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“Please help me persuade East Coast to improve customer care around ticket sales” – Ben Jeffries

Description

Ben Jeffries

I am currently on my way to London with east coast.
Some weeks ago I booked a ticket for the journey on my phone.
A return costing me £152.75 with outward journey upgraded to first class.

When logging on to print off my tickets this morning I was first met by "the server is not responding"
Then once logged in nothing was listed in current bookings.
Not worrying, I set off a little earlier for the station to give me time to get tickets on arrival, armed with the card on which I booked and a print off of my receipt for the tickets I had bought from east coast and the confirmation number.

I first tried to use a collection machine - no record, I assumed it may have been suffering the same issue as the online service, so approached the East Coast ticket desk to speak to a customer sales representative, a member of your east coast staff.

I presented my card and my booking reference print off and she accessed the system to tell me there was "No record of the ticket on the account"

I explained that East Coast had taken £152.75 pence for a return ticket and given me a booking confirmation e-mail to that effect which she was holding in her hand, so there is in actual fact a very tangible record.

She advised me that "they are a totally different company, they are nothing to do with us" I asked if she meant east coast, whose badge she was wearing and whose receipt she was holding and she advised me "The online bookings are a totally different company"

I said that while I appreciated there may be different arms to her operation, as a customer it is all East Coast to me and having paid East Coast for a ticket, I would like to board an East Coast train at 6.25am and asked how we might achieve this.

She advised me that "the only thing she could do was sell me another ticket" I thought there must be some way to use the payment receipt as a ticket, she said no and that I would have to have a valid ticket and the receipt would not do, she had no way of accessing a valid ticket and checked again on her system, confirming there was "nothing booked in that name or against that card, so All I can do is sell you another ticket"

Left with no option, I paid an additional £199 to buy a second, more expensive, standard class ticket to the same train. I asked your representative if she minded writing a note on east coast paper explaining my problem that I could send with a request for a refund to her company, she said she didn't have any paper so she couldn't and as she had told me already, it was a totally different company.

While not helpful, or even pleasant, she proved correct, Once on the train I could not use the receipt and had to use the newly purchased tickets, which were stamped by east coast staff.

At 7am my wife managed to access the self print ticket document and e-mailed it to me. I immediately sought out the guard and explained the situation, showing him my first class ticket on my phone. I asked him if I could take up the seat I had paid for in first class using the ticket on my screen, He thought it would be fine after consulting nearby catering colleagues saying "it's up to you guys if you want to serve him"

I thanked him and explained the situation and showed him my recently purchased new tickets. He advised me that as they had been stamped I would not be able to reclaim them, and if I sat in first class I would not be able to reclaim my first class tickets either.

I remarked that I fully expected a refund of at least one set of tickets and pointed out that the position he seemed to believe his company would take would be very unjust given that I had been needlessly forced by his company, it's systems and representatives to buy 2 tickets for the same train, the latter, standard class ticket more expensive. I asked again whether he thought customer service would be best served by at the very least allowing me to take up my first class seats, He advised that this would make any  reclaim more unlikely, that he could do nothing to help and that I would have to call up and speak to the customer relations team, he reiterated his belief  that any attempt to apply for a refund for the more expensive replacement tickets would be invalidated as they had been stamped, So the only seats I might be able to reclaim would be those first purchased and this would be less likely if i took up the cheaper first class seat I had paid his company for. I was a little incredulous that this could be true, but increasingly confident that East Coast might indeed treat its customers in this way, so I took his advice.

I am now seated in standard class, in total £347.75 out of pocket for this journey, I am a hungry ( I only upgraded for the breakfast), disappointed, regular east coast customer who feels badly let down My conversation with customer service this morning has led me to believe the customer service team are there, not to serve customers but to defend the company profits at all costs - I have just been told that I need to prove their system wasn't working with screen shots from when I tried to log on this morning if I expect to get a refund, even though their own staff at the station could not access the booking with confirmation code, receipt and credit card. I have been treated as if I am trying to perpetrate a fraud, I am only trying to pay once for one ticket for one train.

Customer service is obviously an issue here - staff pushing blame around different parts of the company is bad for customers and the brand. There also seems to be a problem with the system online and in stations not being connected. I had the time and the details to help east coast resolve the problem this morning, but was told it was not possible to do so, could this be improved?

Problem History

  • 1 Ben Jeffries reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 10:34 31 May 2012
  • 2 Ben Jeffries wrote to East Coast close 10:34 31 May 2012

    Here is the letter that Ben Jeffries wrote.

    Charged twice for the same journey

    I am currently on my way to London with east coast.
    Some weeks ago I booked a ticket for the journey on my phone.
    A return costing me £152.75 with outward journey upgraded to first class.

    When logging on to print off my tickets this morning I was first met by "the server is not responding"
    Then once logged in nothing was listed in current bookings.
    Not worrying, I set off a little earlier for the station to give me time to get tickets on arrival, armed with the card on which I booked and a print off of my receipt for the tickets I had bought from east coast and the confirmation number.

    I first tried to use a collection machine - no record, I assumed it may have been suffering the same issue as the online service, so approached the East Coast ticket desk to speak to a customer sales representative, a member of your east coast staff.

    I presented my card and my booking reference print off and she accessed the system to tell me there was "No record of the ticket on the account"

    I explained that East Coast had taken £152.75 pence for a return ticket and given me a booking confirmation e-mail to that effect which she was holding in her hand, so there is in actual fact a very tangible record.

    She advised me that "they are a totally different company, they are nothing to do with us" I asked if she meant east coast, whose badge she was wearing and whose receipt she was holding and she advised me "The online bookings are a totally different company"

    I said that while I appreciated there may be different arms to her operation, as a customer it is all East Coast to me and having paid East Coast for a ticket, I would like to board an East Coast train at 6.25am and asked how we might achieve this.

    She advised me that "the only thing she could do was sell me another ticket" I thought there must be some way to use the payment receipt as a ticket, she said no and that I would have to have a valid ticket and the receipt would not do, she had no way of accessing a valid ticket and checked again on her system, confirming there was "nothing booked in that name or against that card, so All I can do is sell you another ticket"

    Left with no option, I paid an additional £199 to buy a second, more expensive, standard class ticket to the same train. I asked your representative if she minded writing a note on east coast paper explaining my problem that I could send with a request for a refund to her company, she said she didn't have any paper so she couldn't and as she had told me already, it was a totally different company.

    While not helpful, or even pleasant, she proved correct, Once on the train I could not use the receipt and had to use the newly purchased tickets, which were stamped by east coast staff.

    At 7am my wife managed to access the self print ticket document and e-mailed it to me. I immediately sought out the guard and explained the situation, showing him my first class ticket on my phone. I asked him if I could take up the seat I had paid for in first class using the ticket on my screen, He thought it would be fine after consulting nearby catering colleagues saying "it's up to you guys if you want to serve him"

    I thanked him and explained the situation and showed him my recently purchased new tickets. He advised me that as they had been stamped I would not be able to reclaim them, and if I sat in first class I would not be able to reclaim my first class tickets either.

    I remarked that I fully expected a refund of at least one set of tickets and pointed out that the position he seemed to believe his company would take would be very unjust given that I had been needlessly forced by his company, it's systems and representatives to buy 2 tickets for the same train, the latter, standard class ticket more expensive. I asked again whether he thought customer service would be best served by at the very least allowing me to take up my first class seats, He advised that this would make any  reclaim more unlikely, that he could do nothing to help and that I would have to call up and speak to the customer relations team, he reiterated his belief  that any attempt to apply for a refund for the more expensive replacement tickets would be invalidated as they had been stamped, So the only seats I might be able to reclaim would be those first purchased and this would be less likely if i took up the cheaper first class seat I had paid his company for. I was a little incredulous that this could be true, but increasingly confident that East Coast might indeed treat its customers in this way, so I took his advice.

    I am now seated in standard class, in total £347.75 out of pocket for this journey, I am a hungry ( I only upgraded for the breakfast), disappointed, regular east coast customer who feels badly let down My conversation with customer service this morning has led me to believe the customer service team are there, not to serve customers but to defend the company profits at all costs - I have just been told that I need to prove their system wasn't working with screen shots from when I tried to log on this morning if I expect to get a refund, even though their own staff at the station could not access the booking with confirmation code, receipt and credit card. I have been treated as if I am trying to perpetrate a fraud, I am only trying to pay once for one ticket for one train.

    Customer service is obviously an issue here - staff pushing blame around different parts of the company is bad for customers and the brand. There also seems to be a problem with the system online and in stations not being connected. I had the time and the details to help east coast resolve the problem this morning, but was told it was not possible to do so, could this be improved?

  • 3 Customer Relations Mailbox responded to Ben Jeffries close 10:36 31 May 2012
    Thank you for contacting the East Coast Customer Relations
    department.  As stated within our East Coast Passenger's
    Charter, we aim to respond to all written correspondence within
    10 working days.

    If your enquiry is time critical, such as lost property please
    do not hesitate to contact us on 08457 225333 (Option 3), Monday
    to Sunday 07:00-22:00 and we will of course be happy to help.

    Thank you again for contacting East Coast.

    Regards

    Customer Relations Team

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  • 4 Peter Dixon commented close 20:27 03 Jun 2012

    Hello Ben

    Please do retain your tickets as these will be essential to claim a refund.

    anorak
    admin
  • 5 Dave H commented close 22:08 03 Jun 2012

    This is perhaps where the Conditions of Carriage have to catch up with modern ticketing methods, and where these break down. I have seen a train delayed by over an hour, potentially writing off a night's maintenance work, and a passenger dumped in the middle of a strange town at 1 am with no care for their welfare, because the conductor could not accept the printed sheet, and the fact that the ticket machine - for collection - was not working. The accepted solution, without delaying the train would be to have the train met and tickets collected or purchased at the end of the journey, or taken the passenger's details.

    Both staff and the public need to know what they can insist on and keep up with the changes in rules - something to get sorted in the ticketing review currently out to consultation.

  • 6 East Coast CR responded to Ben Jeffries close 14:11 13 Jun 2012
    East Coast
    Freepost
    RSRJ-LJCX-GHST
    Plymouth
    PL4 6AB

    Tel- 08457 225 333

    [1]Email- [email address]

    Website- [2]www.eastcoast.co.uk

    Ref: EC-0120531-H15

    Dear Customer

    Thank you for your correspondence received on 31 May 2012
    regarding our ticket policy.

    I was concerned to learn of the problems you experienced on your
    recent journey to Kings Cross on 31 May resulting in you having
    to purchase new tickets to travel. I understand you feel there
    were problems with our online systems which prevented you from
    being able to print out your ticket for this journey.

    I have now taken these issues to our Web Support team in order
    to find out whether there were any technical problems on this
    particular day. I would like to assure you that I will be in
    touch once I have received a response. However please do not
    hesitate to contact me should you have any further enquiries.

    Thank you once again for contacting us and I will be in touch as
    soon as I have received a response.

    Yours sincerely

    Holly Parnell
    Customer Relations Advisor
    East Coast

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  • started 31 May 2012
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Train route between London Kings Cross and Newcastle operated by East Coast
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