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Northern Fail day 2

December 3rd, 2010 tj 1 comment
For the second day in a row your ‘service’ has been so awful that I am moved to complain.  A copy of my original complaint is appended to the end of this email.
 
This morning I became aware that the 8.07 from Mossley to Manchester Victoria had been cancelled.  Luckily I hadn’t left my house yet.  So I set off later with the intent of catching the 8.27 instead.  When that train finally arrived at around 8.35 it was only two coaches long and was already full, meaning no one could get on at Mossley.  The advice from the guard was that he had been told that as there is apparently a bus service from Mossley to Manchester the service was not a priority.  I then had to wait in sub zero temperatures until the 8.55 train arrived (on time, a miracle in itself).
 
Quite frankly I am appalled at the contempt with which you treat your paying customers.  I do not pay £80 a month to be to be inconvenienced by you and then told to spend my money elsewhere on an inadequate replacement.  For what it’s worth, a few commuters seemingly did try and get a bus but the bus was too small and the driver said the route is so long and slow that it would make more sense to wait for the next train.
Do you really think that this is an acceptable service?  Do you honestly believe that I am getting value for money?  Because I don’t.  Yet no doubt I will be forced to pay increased costs as of January.  I am surprised that you have the bare faced cheek to have still been checking tickets at Victoria both yesterday and this morning.
 
I have not been using this route long but speaking to other commuters who have, these problems are not uncommon.  However, in the relatively short time I have been using the route I have regularly had to contend with overcrowded and late running trains.
 
Ask yourselves this question.. would you put up with this kind of ‘service’ if it was affecting you?  Unfortunately I have no other option.  Do you think that this ‘service’ is acceptable and worth £80 a month?  Would you pay £80 a month for overcrowded trains that you mighit not even be able to get on?
 
Even your turn around on complaints leaves a lot to be desired.  Four weeks?  How can you say that this is reasonable?  Or are you so swamped with complaints about your non-existent service that this is as quick a turnaround as you can manage?
 
Regards,
 
John Hyde
Categories: Northern Rail, Rant Tags:

Northern Rail, or should that be Northern Fail?

December 2nd, 2010 tj 5 comments

Yep, you guessed it! One of my famous complaint letters coming up!

Dear Sirs,

Now that my fingers have thawed out sufficiently I find myself having to write to you to complain about the ‘service’ you offered commuters at Mossley Station this morning (2nd December 2010). I’m probably not the first person you’ve heard from this morning, and I’m certain I won’t be the last.

I arrived at the station at around 8am, planning to catch the 0807 to Manchester Victoria. As 8.07 approached the screen updated to say the train was expected to arrive at Mossley at 8.08; I wasn’t too perturbed by this as late arrivals are quite common.

However, when the train did arrive it was standing room only in the front 2 carriages (of a 4 carriage train). The rear two carriages were completely empty. As many people as possible crammed themselves onto the front two carriages but there were at least 30 people, myself included, who could not fit on the train. When we asked the guard (whose head appeared out of a window in the rear 2 carriages) to open the carriages to let us on he said he could not do it. Apparently it was down to that bane of modern life… health and safety reasons, The platform at Mossley is apparently too short, even though the train seemed to fit just fine. I assume a full risk assessment has been carried out?

The next few minutes descended into farce, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. People, understandably frustrated by proceedings, were blocking doors and pleading with the guard to show some common sense. Unfortunately common sense seems to be a rare commodity on today’s railways. The guard threatened to involve the police, but this didn’t deter the commuters. Why would it? They had nothing to lose. Eventually the protesters had to concede defeat and let the train depart.

Thankfully the next train, the 8.27, was relatively empty and I was able to stand uncomfortably all the way into Victoria.

I wonder if you could explain why this happened? Why was common sense not allowed to prevail? There are at least three possible ways to combat this happening.

1. Why could the guard not stand in the supposedly ‘unsafe’ door to stop people using it?  The train wasn’t so long that the entire rear coach was beyond the platform. In fact, it looked safe enough to board to me. Had the guard just stopped people from using the ‘unsafe’ door then passengers would have easily been able to board using the other doors.

2. Why could the front coaches be closed to enable the train to move forward by a few feet and enable the rear doors to be opened safely? Again, this is pure common sense. It would be safer than the first suggestion and all it would take would be a few minutes. I guess you wouldn’t want to do this as it might make your trains (even) late(r).

3. Why not extend the platform at Mossley to accommodate 4 coach trains?  Wishful thinking, I know. And I already know the answer if I’m honest. As a monopoly you would rather bleed your customers dry with yearly price increases (without any noticeable improvement to the service or facilities) than invest in the infrastructure to provide your customers with a better service.

I look forward to hearing you try and explain your way out of this one. I won’t be letting it drop easily. Nor, I suspect, will any of the other people affected this morning. I would like you to address all points raised in this email, but especially those in bold. If I do not receive a satisfactory response soon I will take this matter further.

Yours faithfully,

John Hyde

Categories: Northern Rail, Rant Tags:

UK Fail

June 19th, 2010 tj No comments

Well, this is turning into quite a bitter blog isn’t it?!

The competition for the title of “UK’s worst delivery company” is hotting up though so I thought I should let you all know about the recent developments!

Following my complaint to the Royal Mail I got a grovelling letter back, admitting that they dropped the ball and that standards were not being met, and also enclosed a cheque for a few quid by way of an apology.  (Companies please take note, cheques are always welcome!)

There’s a newcomer to the title race though, and by God they’re doing everything within their power to make sure they take the title home with them (in completely the opposite manner that the English football team are currently operating).

That newcomer is… UK MAIL!

Their postal service is, judging from my past experiences those of my friends, pretty poor; letters seem to take an age to arrive, quite often dated a week or two before they actually land on your mat, but as they’re mainly bills and business letters I don’t mind so much!

However, it would also seem that their parcel delivery service is almost identical.  Please get comfortable because the following tale is en epic to rival even Beowulf.  And so the story begins…

On Wednesday afternoon I placed an order with an online company and chose next day deliver, knowing I would be in the house on Thursday to sign for the parcel.  The confirmation emails came and UK Mail, via their tracker, confirmed they had picked the parcel up and were on schedule to deliver on Thursday.

Thursday came, the parcel had been loaded on to the van and was out for delivery.  Then nothing.  Regular tracking checks throughout the day yielded no updates.  At around 6pm I checked again, only to find that the parcel was back in their depot!  After ringing around several UK Mail offices I managed to get through to the Manchester depot, who informed me that the driver had tried to deliver at 10am but there was nobody in and so he had left a card.  Only there wasn’t a card on my mat.  I told them this and they couldn’t explain it.  I left my details and was assured that someone would phone me back with an explanation.  I was also told that they would reschedule the delivery for Friday, but couldn’t tell me what time.  I’d have to ring back in the morning for that.

So I rang back on Friday morning.  I was put on hold while the operator spoke to the driver.  The operator then explained that the driver had tried to deliver at 10am but hadn’t actually left a card as he hadn’t got any left.  I was then told that delivery would take place between midday and 3pm that day.  I then received a call to say that the driver HAD left a card on Thursday and would reattempt delivery on Friday and had my phone number in case of any difficulties.

By 4pm I had still not received my package.  I phoned the depot again, who consulted the driver again, and was assured that I was the driver’s next delivery.

At 5:30pm the tracker on the UK Mail site showed that my item had once again been checked into the Manchester depot as undelivered.  Once again I phoned the depot to query this.  Apparently the driver (the same one as the day before, who had assured me he had tried to deliver the package) took the parcel back to the depot as he couldn’t find my house.  The very same house he’d been to the day before.  I queried this, only to be told that the driver hadn’t actually attempted delivery on Thursday and it was a system error causing that info to appear.  When I asked why he couldn’t call me for directions I was told he didn’t have my phone number after all.  I was then assured that delivery would be attempted AGAIN on Saturday morning before 10:30am.

The tracker showed that the package had been loaded on to the van on Saturday morning and all was well.  Until 10:30 came and went with no delivery.  Once again I had to phone the depot, despite them having my number.  I was then told that they can’t guarantee delivery before 10:30, but my package would be with me by 2pm.  Unfortunately they couldn’t prioritise my delivery as some people had paid extra for a Saturday delivery (I don’t see the logic in this, as coming to me first wouldn’t endanger those deliveries, unless they really had no intention of delivering to me), conveniently forgetting that I had paid for next day delivery on Wednesday!  To make matters worse, there were no supervisors available to speak to, and the office would close at midday, not to open until Monday morning.  Leaving me unable to chase up the delivery in case of any more errors!

And so I now wait.  I certainly won’t be holding my breath though as it seems UK Mail cannot actually deliver mail.

Rest assured I have written to their Chief Exec already (and will be writing again to keep them updated), I will phone on Monday and demand an explanation, and I have also emailed the MD of the company I ordered from to let him know how piss poor his suppliers are.

I wonder what’s next.  Can any other company rise to the challenge that UK Mail have laid down?  I seriously doubt anyone else could be as incompetent as they seem to be….

Categories: Rant Tags:

Royal Fail – part 2

March 16th, 2010 tj No comments

You might have thought that things couldn’t get much worse than my original Royal Fail post.  Well, think again.

On Saturday I arranged for the item to be redelivered today, knowing I was going to be off work.  I got up this morning nice and early and sat in the front room all morning just to make sure that I wouldn’t miss it this time.  Time passed with no sign of the package.  “It’s ok” I thought to myself “the post arrives late these days, it’ll be here”.

Then the postman walked past my house without posting anything.  “Maybe he’ll post it on the way back down the street” I thought.  But he didn’t.  “Maybe it’ll be coming in a van or something because it’s being redelivered rather than it being an original delivery”.

Just to put my mind at ease I decided to phone the Royal Mail.  That in itself is something of an ordeal; with a convoluted menu system, full of dead ends and false hopes.  After picking the wrong choice the first time around, I managed to get through to a real person on the second call.  This is where the fun starts.

I gave her my reference number and explained the situation.  This is when she drops the bombshell…

“Ok, I can see that the current status on this delivery is that the package did not make it back to the depot and so it has not made it to the delivery office.  We have your mobile number (she read it out to me) and the delivery office manager will contact you when the package has been found to arrange redelivery”.

To cut a long story short, I now have to wait 15 days to see if this package turns up.  And if it doesn’t then I can submit a claim.  No compensation for two missed delivery dates.  No compensation for having to cancel plans.  Nothing.

So I asked why I had to phone up to to chase the item to be told his, when the delivery office knew it was missing, updated the central system with the fact it was missing and even had my telephone number.  Why didn’t they contact me this morning to say “We’re really sorry, we’ve lost it; don’t bother waiting in today”?

Of course, I’ve submitted a complaint about that as well, but I won’t be holding my breath.

As I said last time, they really do deserve all the shit they get.

Categories: Rant Tags:

Shitty Link

March 13th, 2010 tj No comments

Just to maintain a level of impartiality and balance to the blog, I’ll now also post about the troubles I’ve had with City Link today:

I was expecting another package to arrive today, this one shipped by City Link rather than Royal Mail.  I tracked the package this morning and was told that it was in their system and would be with me today.  Only, it’s not with me.  And the chances of it getting here between now and Monday must now be slim to none.

Attempting to track the parcel on their site now throws up an error.  Apparently they can’t find my reference number and I should phone them up.  Only, they close their lines at midday on Saturday and don’t open them again until Monday morning.

Their website happily claims that you can submit a form to them to complain.  Only, it doesn’t work and throws back a 500 Error, which they claim they are working on rectifying.

So it would seem that if you want anything delivered in this country you’re fucked.

Categories: Rant Tags:

Royal Fail

March 13th, 2010 tj No comments

People who know me will know that there’s no love lost between me and the Royal Mail.  If they’re not losing my packages then they’re taking an inordinate amount of time to deliver them.  Today’s experience really takes the biscuit though.  Let me give you a run down…

  • After waiting the required 72 hours, I went to my local delivery office this morning to pick up a package (I’ll touch on this a bit more later on).
  • I got home and passed up on the chance to go out with family to wait in for another delivery.
  • I sat upstairs, watching TV, with all the doors open so I could hear the bell when the postman got here.
  • I heard the post drop on the mat, but didn’t get up to look as there was no bell.
  • Ten minutes later I went to get a drink and lo and behold, a “Sorry, you were out” card was lying on the floor beneath the letterbox telling me I’d have to wait another 72 hours to get my package.
  • I then phoned the redelivery line to be told “Sorry, we’re really busy. If you’re trying to arrange a redelivery then the quickest way is to go and pick it up yourself or do it online.”
  • I logged on to the Royal Mail website and was told to enter my 13 digit Item Number, starting with 2 letters and ending with 2 letters.  Only the item number written on my card is 14 digits long and starts with numbers.

So now I have to wait 3 fucking days before I have to go down to the delivery office (which is only open between 6:30am and 12 noon) and pick my own package up.  All because someone couldn’t be arsed to press the doorbell (assuming they were even carrying the package in the first place) and couldn’t write down 13 digits correctly.

And I’d love to know why it takes 3 fucking days to take a package to an office a mile down the road.  A crippled tortoise would do it faster.  I’ve had to pick up packages from City Link recently and if you’re out when they call you can go and pick the package up THAT EVENING.  Not 3 evenings later.  THAT EVENING.

If Royal Mail’s idea of good customer service is to make the customer trek down to pick their own package up in 3 days then they deserve all the shit they get.

Categories: Rant Tags:

News?

February 23rd, 2010 tj 1 comment

So England’s best (or more accurately, only) left back got caught sending dirty pictures to a Page 3 dullard and how his marriage to a professional mime artist is over.

Sorry, someone’s going to have to explain to me why:

  1. I should give a shit
  2. Anyone should give a shit
  3. BBC News consider it important enough to rank the story higher on it’s website than a story about someone trying to blow up a courthouse in Northern Ireland
Categories: Rant Tags:

Stagecoach Manchester, Part 4: An unsatisfactory reply

November 6th, 2009 tj No comments

So Stagecoach replied.  Not as quickly as I’d hoped for, but quick enough I guess.  However, the reply itself was far from satisfactory.  Here it is in it’s entirety:

Dear Mr Hyde

Thank you for your e-mail concerning the 231 service on the 30th October 2009 and your other comments.  I am sorry that you have had cause to complain about our services once again.

At the moment practically all of the main arteries in and out of the city and some of the minor roads that our services travel along are subject to road-works with traffic control and some with diversions.  This is true for the 231 service, but also the combined knock on effect from these disruptions brought Piccadilly to gridlock on Friday evening.

I apologise for the inconvenience that is being caused to your journeys due to these circumstances.  We have arranged for an extra vehicle to operate to support the 231 service from now up until Christmas and hopefully this will help alleviate serious delays.

Yours sincerely

Forgive me if I sound a little cynical here, but I’ve heard it all before.  Just like last time, they completely fail to address most of the points I raised in my complaint.

So I sent this response whilst I was on the bus home (efficient use of time or what?!)

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for your reply. I appreciate that the situation with roadworks at the moment is far from ideal, but your reply also spectacularly fails to address a number of points I raised in my initial complaint. Why are out of service buses able to get through this supposed gridlock yet in service buses aren’t? More to the point, with the situation as it is at present, why are out of service buses going through Piccadilly in the first place? Surely it would be a better use of resources to serve the customers waiting at the stop?

I also note that you have failed to address my query regarding your staff at the stop. Why are they not afforded the power to alter a driver’s final destination if it would benefit the customers waiting at the stand? On Tuesday why did your employee not step in to ask the Littlemoss passengers to step aside and let the Ashton passengers on first, given that there were 2 Littlemoss buses nearby?

Finally, I appreciate the gesture of adding another bus, and assume that it will be running the full route to Ashton. What time will this bus be scheduled to run? Also, I note that the bus will only run until Christmas. What steps will be taken after Christmas to ensure that the service remains punctual and adequate?

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours Faithfully

What next I wonder?

Categories: Rant, stagecoach Tags:

Stagecoach Manchester, a complaint: Part 3

November 3rd, 2009 tj 1 comment

Yet again, Stagecoach Manchester appear to want to outdo themselves when it comes to providing an abysmal service.  Yet again I’ve been pushed to complain.  Yet again I’m posting it here for you all to see.

And if you like it and/or agree with it and/or know someone who would,  then please, share it with your friends!  Let’s spread the word.

Dear Sir,

I’m sure you’re probably sick of hearing from me by now but I am afraid that I once again feel the need to complain about the ‘service’ you provide to your loyal customers; who, by the way are only loyal as they have no real alternative, especially as you seem to delight in driving all competition to the point where they feel they must sell their business to you. Such a rampant display of sheer greed and capitalism cannot have been envisaged when the decision was taken to privatise public transport. Indeed it seems to fly in the face of the idea that privatisation would benefit the customer through increased competition. Anyway, I digress (forgive me, I’m a frustrated and non-practicing economist; it comes with the territory)…

I had thought my relationship with your company couldn’t possibly reach a lower level than that reached over the festive period last year, but once again you have managed to go beyond all my expectations and provide a service even worse than I could have imagined almost a year ago.

The sorry tale starts on the evening of Friday 30 October.  After a week of work I left my office at 5pm, looking forward a nice, relaxing weekend at home.  Imagine my disappointment then when I got to the bus stop in Piccadilly Gardens to catch the 17:08 231 to Ashton and it didn’t arrive!  “It’s ok”, I thought to myself, “It’s probably just late.”  So I waited.  And waited.  “Ok, so it looks like it’s not going to come.  Nevermind, there’s another one at 17:23.  I’ll be late, but it’s Friday so it’s not so bad.”  17:23 came and went.  “Ok, this is getting pretty annoying now, but I guess it must be late, I’ll wait a bit.”  Now in between all this, at least two 231 buses came through the stand, only they were turning back at Littlemoss, which is no good for me!  And that’s not to mention the few Stagecoach buses that came straight through bearing the destination no bus traveller wants to see… Sorry Not In Service.  I have no idea where this place is, but I can only imagine it’s overrun with buses.

An Ashton bus finally arrived at 17:38 and I was able to get on my not so merry way.  Take note of that time.  17:38.  That’s half an hour of waiting.  That’s two buses ‘missing’.  Where were they?  Has the Bermuda Triangle finally got tired of the fame and relocated to somewhere between Manchester and Ashton and developed a taste for buses?  Probably not, but that’s the only rational explanation I can find.

Fast forward now, if you would, to tonight, the 3rd November 2009.  (I was lucky enough to get a lift home in a friend’s car yesterday so I didn’t have to suffer your service).  As usual, I arrived at the stand in time to catch the 17:08 231 to Ashton, and for once it was in the stand and people were boarding!  Quite a lot of people were queuing.  In fact, too many people were queuing and the bus left with quite a few of us still waiting at the stand.  To add insult to injury, just after this bus left two more 231s pulled into the stand.  Both were only going as far as Littlemoss, which again is no use to me.

Now where this gets interesting is that on both occasions you had a member of staff at the stand.  Is it really beyond the realms of possibility for you to ask your staff to keep your paying customers informed?  He has a radio so I assume he is in contact with the depot and possibly even the drivers themselves.  Failing that, we’re in the 21st century now, there are miraculous devices around called mobile phones.  I can only assume that he knew what was happening and knew where the missing buses were.  Why could he not let your paying customers know on Friday that they could expect a 30 minute wait for a bus?  Perhaps it’s because you don’t want to lose the business, I don’t know.

Perhaps of more interest to me is why your employee could not let people know tonight that there were two Littlemoss buses coming around the corner and ask the passengers who would be getting off between Manchester and Littlemoss to wait a little while and let us Ashton-folk, who have the cheek to live just a bit further away than the rest, get on first as they would otherwise have to wait 15 minutes.  But no.  Common sense does not seem to have a home in the corridors of power at Stagecoach Manchester and so it was just a free for all and I was left cold and bus-less.  Or even better, why could he not ask the driver of one of the 231s which arrived later to run the whole route to let us unfortunate Ashtonians get home?  I assume this is possibly something to do with overtime payments and your penny-pinching ways, but come on, your business is all about providing a service to customers so DO IT!  Having said that, I’ve come to the conclusion that customers are just an annoyance to you and you’d enjoy things far more if we weren’t around.

Your first letter to me, in effect, described me as a nobody.  I have to admit that such a display of honesty was a refreshing change from your usual question-dodging, buck-passing ways.

I would appreciate it if you could address my concerns and explain why two buses were missing on Friday, why your staff are not afforded the flexibility to provide a basic service and why you continue to provide a wholly unsatisfactory and inadequate service.  However, I won’t hold my breath.  I will also be sending a copy of this letter to the Service Delivery Director at the GMPTE, for what it’s worth.

Yours Sincerely,

Categories: Rant, stagecoach Tags:

Following on…

February 25th, 2009 tj No comments

…from my last post, here’s a video of Ben Goldacre on Newsnight doing a fine job of questioning the ‘scientist’ that wrote the ‘paper’ about social networking and it’s affects on health…

And here’s a fantastic article from the aforementioned Mr Goldacre.

Is it me, or is it very disheartening to hear the Director of the Royal Institution (for so long a bastion of reason and scientific endeavour) using the phrase “There is no evidence…” If there’s no evidence do you not think it might be best to stay quiet instead of shouting from the rooftops?

And for Dr Sigman to state that his ‘paper’, entitled “Well connected? The biological implications of social networking”, was “not about social networking” was just the icing on the cake really.

Having said all that, Goldacre and Paxman do a good job of pouring scorn on the whole thing.

Now if only that happened more often. One things for certain, if it did happen more often the Daily Mail and Express would be a lot thinner!

Categories: Rant Tags: , , ,