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“Please help me persuade First Great Western Railway to ditch APCOA for a parking system that works for the customer” – Ben Ward

Description

Ben Ward

I rarely park at Oxford station, but the system seems to change every time I use it. First there was RingGo which used the code on Platform 1, then I think APCOA arrived. The code fixed itself at 9912, then stopped working altogether a few months ago and I was able to park with a simple phone call.

Since then the code has been printed on a huge sign in the corner of the car park along with a million instructions on what to do. I took a photo of this and got on the train.

When I went to pay they chirpily announced "that'll be £29 please". Apparently I need the code from the platform. But I'm on the train.

There is no customer service number published anywhere and their website is unfriendly and far too complex for a simple thing like parking. I tried the "contact me" form but have heard nothing. They're trying to make money out of people who don't follow the exact path.

I used Google to find APCOA's customer services who said they had no idea what the code was because it's on the platform. How do they verify the code if they don't know it?

In the end I was told to email fgwrefunds@apcoa.com. I did. It bounced back, undelivered.

Positive steps for improving things:

Unreachable, untouchable, unresponsive and unapologetic. These are the types of company that turn a simple job into a huge time-suck for all involved. I urge FGW to ditch them as soon as possible and make a service which works for the actual customer.

Problem History

  • 1 Ben Ward reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 17:03 18 Sep 2013
  • 2 Ben Ward wrote to First Great Western Railway close 17:03 18 Sep 2013

    Here is the letter that Ben Ward wrote.

    Parking a bureaucratic nightmare

    I rarely park at Oxford station, but the system seems to change every time I use it. First there was RingGo which used the code on Platform 1, then I think APCOA arrived. The code fixed itself at 9912, then stopped working altogether a few months ago and I was able to park with a simple phone call.

    Since then the code has been printed on a huge sign in the corner of the car park along with a million instructions on what to do. I took a photo of this and got on the train.

    When I went to pay they chirpily announced "that'll be £29 please". Apparently I need the code from the platform. But I'm on the train.

    There is no customer service number published anywhere and their website is unfriendly and far too complex for a simple thing like parking. I tried the "contact me" form but have heard nothing. They're trying to make money out of people who don't follow the exact path.

    I used Google to find APCOA's customer services who said they had no idea what the code was because it's on the platform. How do they verify the code if they don't know it?

    In the end I was told to email fgwrefunds@apcoa.com. I did. It bounced back, undelivered.

    Positive steps for improving things:

    Unreachable, untouchable, unresponsive and unapologetic. These are the types of company that turn a simple job into a huge time-suck for all involved. I urge FGW to ditch them as soon as possible and make a service which works for the actual customer.

  • 3 First Group Response responded to Ben Ward close 17:06 18 Sep 2013
    Thank you for contacting First Great Western.

    We confirm receipt of your e-mail and aim to respond fully within 5 working days.

    Please be aware that we are currently dealing with a high volume of correspondence and therefore our response may take longer than 5 days.

    If your enquiry relates to upcoming travel or you require immediate information, please refer to our website for the most up to date information via http://www.journeycheck.com/firstgreatwe....

    Alternatively you can contact us via Twitter using @FGW, or call customer services on 08457 000125 where we will try to give a faster resolution .

    Please note that you will not be able to reply to this automated email, however if you wish to contact us further by email then please use the address below.

    [email address]
  • 4 FGW Customer Relations responded to Ben Ward close 19:34 11 Oct 2013
    First Great Western
    Customer Services Team
    FREEPOST
    SWB40576
    Plymouth
    PL4 6ZZ

    Tel: 08457 000 125
    Fax: 08456 008 363
    [First Great Western Railway problem reporting email]

    www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk

    Ref: FGW 7302595

    Dear Ben

    Thank you for your recent correspondence. I apologise for the delay in getting back to you.

    I was concerned to learn of the problems that you experienced in paying for your car parking space at Oxford station recently. The parking charges at Oxford are different for rail users and non-rail users. This is deliberate and helps to reduce the numbers of people visiting Oxford for the day from using the car park to ensure that our customers travelling by train have an opportunity to park.

    There is a different code for rail users and non-rail users. Those using the train can obtain the code from the platform and will be charged at the appropriate rate and there are a number of signs giving detailed information regarding this.On this occasion, it would appear that the information you obtained from the photograph you took of the sign, led to you paying the non-rail user tariff.

    I am sorry that you also experienced difficulties in trying to contact APCOA. Connect customers can contact the Customer Service team on 0844 332 1210. The email address you used was incorrect which is why your email was not delivered and therefore APCOA have not had an opportunity to respond to you directly. The correct address is [email address].

    APCOA manage car parking services all over the UK and I am sorry that your experience has left you with a poor impression of the excellent service that they offer.

    I would not wish for you to remain unhappy regarding this and in view of all of the circumstances, as a gesture of goodwill I am happy to offer you a refund of the £29.00 that you paid to park that day. In order to do so, I do need some further information from you and would be grateful if you would contact me directly at [email address] and provide me with your full address and postcode.

    Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to explain and I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

    Yours sincerely

    Mark Webber
    Customer Relations Senior Officer

    First Great Western Limited. Registered in England & Wales No. 05113733.
    Registered office: Milford House, 1 Milford Street, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 1HL.

    First Rail Holdings Limited. Registered in England No. 5154485. Registered office: 50 Eastbourne Terrace, Paddington, London W2 6LG.

    This message is confidential. It may not be disclosed to, or used by, anyone other than the addressee. If you receive this message in error, please advise us immediately.

    Internet email is not necessarily secure. First does not accept responsibility for changes to any email which occur after the email has been sent. Attachments to this email could contain software viruses which could damage your system. First have checked the attachments for viruses before sending, but you should virus-check them before opening.

    For more information on our range of services or to book your tickets online, please visit:- http://www.firstgroup.com
  • 5 Mark Stoter commented close 16:52 27 Jun 2014

    I have just found myself in a similar position. I parked up, noted the location code and jumped on the train. Called up and was told the cost for the weekend would be £43! No mention of a discount for rail users and the large signs at the station don't mention it.

    It seemed ridiculous so I googled it and found you can ask for a discount code at the station. That's too late now. Why is the discount system not clearly stated on the boards in the car park and at the station?

    The conductors don't know the code and I can't find a number to call the station, who probably wouldn't give me the code because I am not present with them to show them my ticket. This is ridiculous.

    I second the recommendation to ditch APCOA. I know so many people who have had problems with them. Their customer service is awful.

  • 6 Alasdair McCormick commented close 12:45 30 Oct 2014

    Likewise. It is an awful system, Why can it not send you a reminder you parking is coming to an end, every other phone pay parking system I use offers this. You can’t get the codes for the car park online. All in all very poor but par for the course when it comes to FGW or other companies in its association. How hard would it be to offer an APP for your phone. I use Swindon and had no idea there was a second code this is very frustrating!

  • 7 Mrs. K, Ross commented close 15:03 15 Dec 2014

    I am also aggrieved with the very poor service from APCOA. On 10th December at 9.25 a.m, I put £8.20 into the ticket machine in the car park at Gloucester train station, only for nothing to come out and no refund given. There was a queue of people behind me, so I advised them not to waste their money. On asking advice from a station official I was told "It's nothing to do with us, you'll have to ring the company responsible" and I was given a number on a scrap of paper. I rang the number and got a recorded message, saying the number had changed. After ringing the number given I got through to someone who was clearly disinterested in my loss of such a small amount of money and who told me to email them to ask for a refund. I asked how people were supposed to get refunds who didn't have an email address and she said she had never heard of that situation. I then asked her how I should complain and she reluctantly gave me a PO Box address to write to.
    While I realise that £8.20 is not a vast amount of money, it is still taking people's money under false pretences if they do not provide the service paid for. I am appalled by the rudeness I received on the phone and the lack of any proper means of obtaining a refund. I have checked the website with regard to refunds and it appears to only apply to season tickets.
    Why are the train operators allowed to get away with this shoddy service?

  • 8 Laura Lambell commented close 15:44 13 Feb 2015

    Geoff & Lin Lambell, Having just tried to speak to someone from APCOA and eventually speaking to a member of staff, I was given a convoluted explanation as to why no trace of an email sent to APCOA from us a week ago had not been responded to. Apparently despite completing our query on their site it was the wrong site ! How does that work ! Now that I have read the other comments on this site I find myself wholly in agreement with the observations made by other disgruntled customers, what a system, not at all user friendly, and probably highly lucrative in terms of customers falling foul of the process. Beware !

  • 9 Mrs. K, Ross commented close 18:38 13 Feb 2015

    I agree, it is a disgrace. They seem to have found a legal loophole that allows them to steal money from the public and have no accountability. It is clearly a very lucrative business for them.

Comment
  • started 18 September 2013
  • supporters 8
Oxford Rail Station in Oxford operated by First Great Western Railway
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