Monday, April 16, 2007

They Don't Know What They're Doing

Today I have received a letter from FGW regarding their lack of compensation for a 30 minute delay I suffered, and their total incompetence in dealing with it, I previously summed it up here.

Firstly Sue Smith the team manager apologises;

I have now had the opportunity to review your case and agree we did make mistakes for which I apologise.

Well that’s something I suppose. Though there’s an automated voice at every station that apologises for delays, so actually apologies from FGW are pretty frequent, but rarely feel meant.

We did record the wrong journey and having checked our records these show that the delay to your connecting service at Bristol Temple Meads was due to a mechanical problem. [they had previously stated that it was due to driver illness] John is a relatively new member of staff and I will ensure that he has the necessary training to prevent this happening again.

Presumably this training is to look at a database of delays and read off what caused my delay. That’s pretty simple training, which makes me believe that he’d had no training at all. She continues;

He was however correct not to compensate for a delay under an hour. I appreciate that this contradicts Alison Forster’s [FGW Managing Director] letter. I have spoken to her office and I regret that an error was made in her reply. The 30 minute delay compensation period relates to previous Thames trains services and not to previous Wessex Trains. We adopted the policy that the companies had in place when we took on the areas they covered previously.

So my questions to my fellow commuters is thus: Is this true? Was Wessex trains compensation policy to pay out for delays of 30 minutes or of 1 hour? I don’t know, I was only commuting with Wessex trains for about two weeks before FGW took over. Also if you’re a former Thames Trains commuter do you get compensation for delays over 30 minutes? Sounds like many of you in the Maidenhead area are experiencing these kind of delays every day. Are you getting your money back? Or is this FGW trying to explain the cock-up with yet another lie? If you want a copy of my letter to post off with your complaint forms let me know.

Finally, Sue finishes with;

In view of the error, and the mistakes in our response, Alison has asked that we forward Rail Vouchers to the full cost of this journey leg as a goodwill gesture and these are included.

Except that this is another mistake. She actually sent me rail vouchers for the full return price. Twice the amount I was asking for. Idiots.

The basic gist of this is that no-one at FGW knows what’s going on, and someone has been telling lies. The Managing Director doesn’t know when compensation should be paid. The man in the office makes up the reason that trains are delayed. Basically it’s just a big farce, and it is clear to everyone with the exception of the DfT that FGW is not fit for purpose.

7 comments:

whistleblower said...

Hello Billyo - your friendly FGW idiot here come to help! Compensation for delays under Wessex was as per the National Conditions of Carriage (http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/system/galleries/download/misc/NRCOC.pdf). If you arrive at your destination more than one hour late you are entitled to NOT LESS than the following in vouchers: Single - 20% of the fare. Return - 10% per leg. (That's journey legs, not your legs - that could be disability discrimination).

So it looks like Sue and Alison will be joining John on his re-training course - for over-compensating you!

As for the mix-up over the reason for the delay, maybe the driver said 'I'm sick of these trains breaking down' and they put it down to both driver sickness and a mechanical failure. After all, we are all such idiots that it's quite likely ;0)

By the way did you see in the Metro the other day about the train that was cancelled in Australia because the driver was temporarily blinded by a sausage roll he was eating? Idiots everywhere!

Anyway, well done with finding out that nobody in FGW knows what's going on. The cat's finally out of the bag. Question is who does know what's going on?

Safe travels

Billyo said...

No, I didn't see that. Though there was an interesting situation last night at Bath Spa station.

A train was stuck on the Bristol bound platform, so all trains were having to pass throught the london platform, meaning we were stuck outside the station for 20 minutes.

On our train we were told not that the train had broken down, but that the train had "lost it's driver". If he was taken ill, or had to attend some emergency then I hope he/she is ok.

Billyo said...

Also whistleblower, do you know if it's true threfore that compensation for delays on former Thames trains services is paid for 30 minute delays?

If so, it's yet another example of the bias on commuters into London (who I know are still getting a pants service) what with the lower fare increase in January, and now a lower compensation trigger.

whistleblower said...

The train had lost its driver? That's a good one- blame the train for a change!

Seriously, though, there are a couple of jobs where there are crew changes at Bath involving the relief crew travelling in as passenger on another service. I don't think it's a very good idea. For instance there's a Westbury job that involves working a train from Westbury to Swindon and travelling from Swindon to Bath to work a service. If either train is late then there will be no relief crew at Bath and you may even have the Catch 22 situation of the relief crew sitting outside Bath on another train unable to get into the station to move the train that's blocking the platform etc. etc. etc.

It's not too desperate at other stations with spare platforms but there's nowhere to go at Bath.

How would you break that news to the customers? Hmmm. Might as well blame the train! They probably wouldn't believe the truth, anyway!

whistleblower said...

Don't know about the Thames Trains compensation. The Conditions of Carriage only state the minimum amounts and TOCs are free to set their own amounts.

The Train Man said...

Hi Billyo, thanks for your posts on my FGW sucks blog - appreciate the support. Services from Maidenhead continue to be generally appalling with no end in sight. I've posted the latest update from our local MP today - check out http://firstgreatwesternsucks.blogspot.com/

Never On Time said...

If you want to complain about First Great Western or any other train company, please visit http://www.railvoice.co.uk You can then post complete details of your complaint and it will be forwarded to the appropriate railway company.