'one' Customer Services Response

Well, as promised, I can now post the response from one to my lengthy open letter complaint a few weeks ago [the response was received shortly after my email but I have held back to allow other postings to be made].

Contact reference: 168858

Dear Mr Gibbard,

Thank you for writing to us. I was sorry to read that your journeys with us have not been to the standard you expected.

I am sorry for the delays you suffered last week. We work very hard to make sure that all our trains arrive on time as we know that any disruption to our passengers' journeys is both inconvenient and frustrating. I have checked the logs for your journeys that week, but the reasons for the delays were different on each occasion. [JG: does this matter to me? A delay is a delay but I should hear them out...] Most of the problems were with the rail infrastructure, which is operated by Network Rail [JG: reads "not my problem guv"], although on one occasion an error by one of our drivers was a contributing factor. We do realise the difficulty that delays cause, and are in constant contact with Network Rail to ensure that such problems are kept to a minimum. [JG: what's the incentive for N.R. to ensure it doesn't happen.]

I am sorry that you have found that we have not been keeping you informed about delays to our services. We understand that this is vitally important and will always try our best to give out the most up to date and accurate information available. Unfortunately, during times of disruption, it can be very difficult for our staff to do this as the information they are being given by parties such as Network Rail, is constantly changing.[JG: Not good enough. Explain this to customers at the time, don't wait for complaints. If Network Rail say the problem is x say to passengers that "Network Rail say the problem is x" it's only fair. This still isn't happening though...]

We also appreciate how upsetting and frustrating it can be to be told one piece of information, which then changes within minutes. Therefore, we always try and get the correct information first before announcing this to our customers [JG: Not so. Passengers rarely get any info at all.]. It is unfortunate that this can take some time to be confirmed.

Our information boards run on an automatic system that updates the expected time according to when our trains pass the signal points. Unfortunately this can mean that if a train is stuck at the signals outside the station [JG: sic, this indicates the letter was not proof read before sending...]

We are currently in the process of introducing refurbished rolling stock on our mainline services, which should provide a far more comfortable environment in which to travel than that which is currently provided. All of our Norwich to London carriages are set to be replaced by May. These will have improved heating and air conditioning systems. [JG: UPDATE I have travelled on two of these services. This 'far more comfortable environment' meant re-upholstered seats, floor and wall carpets and a lick of internal paint. That's it. Oh, and the improved heating/air con just means that it works, for the moment]

I do not think we are planning to introduce the kind of facilities that you enjoyed on your GNER service. [JG: Why not? There was mention of in-train WiFi in the service magazine a year or so ago, customers demand more...] There were plans to introduce on train television, but this proposal did not prove popular with our customers. [JG: I never mentioned this. In train TV clearly is a bit daft. In-train audio and broadband has proven to be a success elsewhere.] We have been innovative as a company in other ways however - our 'Delay Repay' scheme for compensating people for delays to their journey is one of the most generous among train operating companies, and our website consultation exercise on the proposed changes for the West Anglia timetable (a first for the region) received warm praise from the Rail Passenger's council. We are currently developing our 'Season Direct' service, which will allow people to pay for their season tickets via Direct Debit at approximately one twelfth of the season ticket price. [JG: better, and service orientated. But the best companies are always innovating not just reflecting on their Greatest Hits!]

I have spoken to our buildings manager, who has informed me that we did not repaint Ipswich station during the summer. [JG: reads "liar". The reverse is true. The outside of the station WAS painted in white and a few other bits in Anglia green.] Unfortunately the display board at Ipswich has not been repaired due to a dispute with our contractors.
This has been on-going for some time, but has been resolved, with the contractors agreeing to repair or replace the board soon. [JG: No, not good enough. The board should have been fixed first and the liability for repair/replacement settled later. The customer should have been the prime concern, not who was to blame.]

The installation of matrix displays at rural stations would require significant investment, as at present many of these stations have no connection to the information systems. If you had any particular stations in mind, I would be happy to look into this further.[JG: Crossed-wires. I meant more screens at Ipswich and Norwich. I maintain this desire as passengers should be able to stand on the platforms and see the screens from almost any point. This would provide a more even distribution of passengers joining the train at various points.]

With regards to the service our staff offer our customers, we are committed to delivering a regular Customer Service Training Programme for all our front line staff. From April all our staff will attend a three day Customer Service Culture course at our new Customer Service Academy located in Stratford. This is a significant investment in this area, and along with better recruitment ideals we hope that our customers will see a better and improving level of customer service across 'one'. [JG: A Good Thing. Will wait and see. Some of the younger new recruits are much better.]

I am sorry that you are dissatisfied with the announcements made by our conductors. We do not have a set 'script' as such for what our conductors should say on their announcements, but allow them to welcome our passengers onto our trains as they see appropriate. Of course, we expect our conductors to offer a warm welcome, and I assure you that our announcements do meet basic health and safety requirement.

Our website currently shows a selection of our most popular fares. We are intending to introduce a more extensive facility on our website in the future, although I do not have a set date for this at present as our I.T. team are also engaged in other projects to help improve the service we offer. [JG: "we'll get round to it. At the moment we're building more online games and marketing gumpf"]

I hope I have managed to answer your points to your satisfaction, but if you would like me to expand on any issue, please let me know, and I would be happy to do so.

Once again, I am sorry that you are dissatisfied with our service, but I hope that you will see an improvement soon. Thank you again for contacting us.

Best wishes,

Customer Relations Advisor

JG: Ok, so xxxx deflated a few of my arguments but I have to say I was a little disappointed that he didn't rise to my tone. More seriously I was genuinely disappointed not to receive a phone call or get any real sense that they worship the customer at one. There's an impression of a persecution complex there. I know that Network Rail are to blame for much of the problems but until one make the customer feel more valued, they will continue to be the public repository for all the commuters' ire. The saga continues...