Last week I wrote about the outage at the Ordnance Survey getamap service. I then printed an email from the Ordnance Survey commenting on their problems. According to the OS this was a temporary problem although some customers — the implication was not many — had ongoing problems with passwords.
Ian MacDonald then wrote to tell me that he had not had access to getamap from between 6th August and 22nd August. This is an astonishing amount of time for a system to be down and an amazing about of time for a password reset to be undertaken! Over on Twitter, Ian Morton and @steve_sdb seem to be in a similar position. They make the point that there is still no notice of service problems on the OS website.
The OS email sent to me last week has all the feel of a PR damage limitation exercise rathe than a genuine attempt to appraise customers of difficulties.
Getamap is not a particularly expensive service but that should not stop it being effective, after all the Ordnance Survey is one of the most respected mapping organisations in the world.
It would appear that in computer mapping as in much else you get what you pay for and that no longer seems to include pure features but the basic reliability of service.
The OS should have a look at how some of our leading IT companies have dealt with failures and difficulties, combing clean and admitting when products fall short of the desired performance. Such admissions earn respect. Customers may ignore a particular product for a while but if companies are honest they will give things another go in the future.