Wednesday 13th October 2021
As promised last month, a further quick update on my recent experiences with customer service teams in the public transport sector.
In my Sunday 19th September blogpost I explained how I’d encountered a problem at Tottenham Hale Underground Station on Friday 17th when the ticket gate ate my rail ticket and it disappeared completely (probably getting stuck fast to another ticket already jammed) leaving me no alternative but to pay another fare to Victoria then buy another single on the train back to my home station of Hassocks costing an extra £18.45.
I set out all the details on TfL’s online contact form that Friday evening and after receiving an immediate automatic acknowledgment by email the next contact I had was on Wednesday morning 22nd September when Andrew from Capita (they look after Oyster card issues for TfL) rang and within just a few minutes had confirmed my extra costs would be reimbursed. No messing. No querying. Totally accepting my story of what happened.
How good was that? Very good indeed.
Andrew arranged to pay the £18.45 as a web credit on my Oyster account which I can then transfer to my bank account. The money was with me the next day.
I’ve encountered TfL’s Oyster Card outsourced staff before when I’d inadvertently failed to touch out and been charged the maximum fare and always found them to be sympathetic and helpful.
They must have a “can do” attitude when it comes to resolving customer issues and it’s very pleasing to see. Readers will know I’m very sceptical about companies which outsource their customer contacts but I must say well done to TfL which must have given Capita a remit to resolve issues positively and efficiently. It really does make a difference.
TfL and Capita are in the Premier League for Oyster Card customer service handling compared to another issue I described – waiting for a refund from Loganair for the cancelled journey from Glasgow to Barra on 6th September. We confirmed to the airline’s staff at Glasgow Airport that day we wanted a refund on our fares rather than rebooking the flight yet nothing happened until one fare finally got refunded on 21st September and the other on 5th October just one day short of a month after the disappointment of not being able to travel.
A poor show from Loganair on timeliness and if the company didn’t have a monopoly I reckon they’d soon lose customers for such lethargic handling of refund requests. Transport companies are always quick to take money off you and they should be equally as efficient in returning it when it’s due.
Loganair are obviously aware their lack of timeliness is an issue. An automated email comes with the confirmation of a refund…
You may recall my other refund experience was with Arriva after being sold an incorrect ticket by the bus driver taking me from Bangor to Caernarfon on my trip on 14th September. I finally received the £3.80 credited to my credit card account on 29th September, two weeks and a day later.
Some might say that’s a good result, but I’m afraid my expectations are higher as I recall my time at Brighton & Hove when we always ensured reimbursement for issues where the passenger was not at fault should be done in a very timely manner – by return of post – to surpass customer expectations not just meet them. It was a simple but effective way of winning back customer trust when something had gone wrong.
That’s how customer service should work. And it’s good to see TfL’s Oyster doing just that.
I used to run a bus company but in retirement am a full time passenger travelling all over Britain enjoying its splendid scenic delights by bus and train. Currently social distancing at home.