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Author Topic: Railway staff pawning people off with nonsense  (Read 2047 times)
Robin Summerhill
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« on: January 26, 2022, 08:29:29 pm »

That might be a strongly-worded title, but it does really grind my gears when staff  try to pawn people off with nonsense and half-truths.

One afternoon last week we were going to Bath from Chippenham, went to the booking office and duly bought our tickets. As I have now managed over 60 years to smoke my lungs to death and have COPD, and am also now registered blind into the bargain, we went along the unused platform to go up to the footbridge in the lift.

The lift was out of order – clearly a very short term problem because it was working less than 2 hours later when we came back.

Muttering oaths and curses and blights on FGW (First Great Western)’s crops and what have you, like a Black 5 in 1968 I wheezed my way back to the gateline on the platform which is normally unused when the main entrance is open. There was a guy on the other side in his hi-viz (I hope his job title doesn’t include (“Customer Services” in it...), told him the lift was OOO and asked him to let us in. Please remember I am standing there sounding like I’ve stopped for a blow-up half way up Shap with a white stick in my hand...

“No” says he – “you’ll have to walk round and come in the main entrance. “ Muttering more oaths and curses, and wondering whether I could ask a vicar to marry his parents, I duly did so.

When I got in, I them approached my new-found nemesis, and reminded him that he had a pass key that would open that gate. He replied that I had to go through the proper gateline to “validate my ticket” and also to help in the collection of passenger stats. When I pointed out that the gatelines are often left open anyway because there are no staff to man them, his reply was “I’m not going to argue with you Sir”

I didn’t want to argue with him either; I just wanted to be let in the easiest way for me, and not to be fed bovine excrement by a staff member at Chippenham station.

Am I being unreasonable? Comments either way would be welcomed.
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bignosemac
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2022, 09:24:47 pm »

Entirely reasonable.

Bloody poor excuses. Doubly so when someone is less able. Sounds to me like someone flexing what little power they have for no good reason other than because they can. What you've posted is a classic description of a jobsworth. The phrase "I'm not going to argue with you, Sir" is a classic passive/aggressive response.

If Mr Jobsworth was really concerned about validating tickets and not skewing passenger counts he would (with your permission) offer to go and put your ticket through, or scan your e-ticket at, the barrier himself then return it to you. That's proper Customer Service for someone less able who has already been inconvenienced by an OOU (out of use) lift.
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There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist. - Sir Terry Pratchett
eightonedee
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2022, 09:32:51 pm »

Absolutely BNM

This is just the kind of behaviour that not only upsets the direct victims, but others who witness it or have to read about it in fora like this.

This is the kind of behaviour that should deserve a management reprimand. To be fair it is infrequent in my experience as a commuter for many years along busy routes. I can think of just two equally egregious incidents in 20+ years commuting that I have witnessed since I started again in 2001 (OK - not much in the last 2 years!). They are exactly the type of experience that is likely to dissuade people from using the train.

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johnneyw
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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2022, 01:47:24 pm »

It would be an understatement to describe the staff member's attitude as insensitive.  I have to say with station staff generally, I have experienced various levels of helpfulness but thankfully never encountered anyone that I would describe as unhelpful to the point of being rude or even obstructive.
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froome
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« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2022, 02:18:36 pm »

I have to say that on my last visit to Chippenham I had similar experiences. The staff members I had contact with weren't exactly overly helpful, and the station design, with the barriers halfway down the first platform, make it awkward to use if you have luggage. I had to use the lift as I had a bike with me and so had to get through the barriers, which took longer than it needed to, and then once you get up to the footbridge, access to the lift down to the platform is just awful. You have to walk around in what feels like a circle to get to it, and then find you can't get through the barrier and there are no staff there. After feeling non-plussed for a short while, you look around, and if lucky, find a button to push to speak to a staff member (presumably the same person you met with at the other barrier). They then, in my case, say they can't see the bike, so suggest you just go through the barrier, which I can't because I do actually have a bike. Anyway, I did eventually get let through the barrier, but it doesn't leave you feeling welcomed.

All this palaver, and a perfectly good platform right by the entrance which no train stops at!
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bignosemac
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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2022, 03:10:19 pm »

Here's the job description from a recent GWR (Great Western Railway) Gateline Assistant vacancy:

Quote
Gateline Assistant

About the job

The purpose of the job is to be the face of Great Western Railway and to give Great Western Railway customers a positive impression of the company and to exceed their expectations of customer service.  As a Gateline Assistant, you will assist in the operation of the ticket barriers and provide information and assistance to customers.

I've highlighted pertinent points that appear to be lacking from Robin Summerhill's experience at Chippenham.

Robin, do contact GWR Customer Services and raise the matter. It might take a few rounds of correspondence to reach a resolution you are happy with, but change only occurs if the service provider acknowledges there's a problem. That was my experience with issues at Paddington's gateline. In my case the complaints went all the way to a personal meeting with GWR's Customer Service Director. I'm not suggesting things will, or need, go that far with your issues at Chippenham, but an assurance that the issue will be raised with local management is the least that should be promised. Then, if similar happens again you can escalate further.

I agree with others that, in general, frontline customer service staff, be they booking clerks, gateline staff, platform staff, guards, TMs(resolve) etc are a great bunch, dedicated to doing their very best for customers. It's the one or two jobsworths that tarnish the image. And, of course, we as customers are far more likely to share our negative experiences. I may just start a thread about positive interactions and stories of rail staff going above and beyond the next time I have such an interaction.
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There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist. - Sir Terry Pratchett
froome
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2022, 03:36:30 pm »

Here's the job description from a recent GWR (Great Western Railway) Gateline Assistant vacancy:

Quote
Gateline Assistant

About the job

The purpose of the job is to be the face of Great Western Railway and to give Great Western Railway customers a positive impression of the company and to exceed their expectations of customer service.  As a Gateline Assistant, you will assist in the operation of the ticket barriers and provide information and assistance to customers.

I've highlighted pertinent points that appear to be lacking from Robin Summerhill's experience at Chippenham.

Robin, do contact GWR Customer Services and raise the matter. It might take a few rounds of correspondence to reach a resolution you are happy with, but change only occurs if the service provider acknowledges there's a problem. That was my experience with issues at Paddington's gateline. In my case the complaints went all the way to a personal meeting with GWR's Customer Service Director. I'm not suggesting things will, or need, go that far with your issues at Chippenham, but an assurance that the issue will be raised with local management is the least that should be promised. Then, if similar happens again you can escalate further.

I agree with others that, in general, frontline customer service staff, be they booking clerks, gateline staff, platform staff, guards, TMs(resolve) etc are a great bunch, dedicated to doing their very best for customers. It's the one or two jobsworths that tarnish the image. And, of course, we as customers are far more likely to share our negative experiences. I may just start a thread about positive interactions and stories of rail staff going above and beyond the next time I have such an interaction.


I also agree that the majority of staff are very helpful, and would say that some of the problems faced both by Robin and myself, are no doubt due to (the hopefully temporary) staff shortages making it more difficult for staff to do the job that they are supposed to be doing.

Part of the problem with Chippenham, shown by both of our posts, is that any failings on behalf of the staff are greatly exacerbated by what is an appalling station design for those with luggage. As it happens, Bath Spa is similar in that respect. Trying to access the lift on the London-bound platform is just a joke at times. You get through the barrier to find a large stream of people coming from the other platform waiting to get out through the barriers who block your way to the lift. Sometimes I've lost a few minutes just trying to go forward from barrier to lift, which is just due to appalling design (and yes I understand the reasons why it is that way).
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bignosemac
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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2022, 04:03:13 pm »

It's a problem repeated countrywide. The Victorians just didn't design and build stations with gatelines in mind. That was just so inconsiderate of them!

It's for that reason we need gateline staff who are considerate and understanding of the needs of passengers. Especially those less able.

I'm reminded once again of an incident I had some years ago at Charing Cross. My valid ticket didn't operate the barrier. No problem, just show it to the gateline chap. He then asks to see my Disabled Person's Railcard. Again, no problem. I'm obliged to show it on request. On this occasion though it wasn't in a ticket wallet with the ticket. I had a wheelie case and many pockets. The gateline staffer became a little peeved as I sought out my Railcard. It was one of those occasions where I'd had it to hand on the train and then forgot which pocket I'd put it in. Gateline staffer must have thought I was performing theatrics with the pocket searching and concluded I was a chancer who didn't actually have said Railcard. He said, "You don't look disabled." My reply, as I finally found and produced my Disabled Railcard was, "You don't look like a doctor."
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There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist. - Sir Terry Pratchett
Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2022, 09:31:51 pm »

Thanks for all your supportive comments.

As you may have gleaned from the writing style in my original post, I was just having a minor rant about an unhelpful staff member at Chippenham station. However, after reading Frome’s post and suspecting he encountered the same individual, ad BNM’s post about how he could have dealt with the gateline himself if he had a mind to, I now think the matter is worth a complaint.
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