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“Please help me persuade Southeastern to improve their system for querying online purchases” – Myf Nixon

Description

Myf Nixon

Hello,

Today I had the experience of trying to contact Southeastern to query a web booking I made yesterday.

This turned out not to be a simple endeavour. I am forced to conclude that your website is set up to deliberately discourage this type of communication.

Firstly, there was no link in the email I received to confirm my booking, and no instructions on what to do if one wanted to query it.

So I visited your website. The 'contact' link is small and hidden away at the foot of your homepage. On clicking, I am taken to this page. The text reads: "We welcome any comments you may have on our service, your feedback will help us to meet your needs better."

This implies that this is a feedback form, and not the right place for enquiries, an impression which is further strengthened by the options in the mandatory drop-down: "Train Environment; Station Environment; Train Performance; Staff; Assisted Travel; Previous Correspondence; Website".

None of these fit what I wanted to do, which was to query the terms and conditions of the ticket I had bought.

So I came to the conclusion that Southeastern would prefer that this kind of contact be made by phone. If this is the case, it would be good to implictly state that, at the head of your contact form and perhaps on your homepage.

On the feedback page, the message says "Why not check our Frequently asked questions to see if your query has already been answered, or call our Customer Services team on 0845 000 2222", so I called that number.

When I explained my problem, your customer services person told me I had the wrong number and should phone 0844 335 1640. When I did so, I was given a number of options, ranging from 'help with using the website', 'assisted travel' and 'customer services'. Customer services seemed the closest to what I wanted, but when I selected that, I got an automated message telling me to ring 0845 000 2222 - the number I'd just been sent away from.

So I dialled again, chose 'issues with the website', and this time got through to a person who was able to help.

It is a good thing that I had the patience to go through this process. I imagine that your customers have queries with web bookings every day - do they all manage to navigate this tortuous process?

Have you, as I suspect, deliberately set the system up to dissuade contact and keep your customer service team's work at a manageable level? if so, I think that this is a disservice to your customers, and a false economy.

Problem History

  • 1 Myf Nixon reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 14:39 10 Jan 2012
  • 2 Myf Nixon wrote to Southeastern close 14:39 10 Jan 2012

    Here is the letter that Myf Nixon wrote.

    Your website discourages communication

    Hello,

    Today I had the experience of trying to contact Southeastern to query a web booking I made yesterday.

    This turned out not to be a simple endeavour. I am forced to conclude that your website is set up to deliberately discourage this type of communication.

    Firstly, there was no link in the email I received to confirm my booking, and no instructions on what to do if one wanted to query it.

    So I visited your website. The 'contact' link is small and hidden away at the foot of your homepage. On clicking, I am taken to this page. The text reads: "We welcome any comments you may have on our service, your feedback will help us to meet your needs better."

    This implies that this is a feedback form, and not the right place for enquiries, an impression which is further strengthened by the options in the mandatory drop-down: "Train Environment; Station Environment; Train Performance; Staff; Assisted Travel; Previous Correspondence; Website".

    None of these fit what I wanted to do, which was to query the terms and conditions of the ticket I had bought.

    So I came to the conclusion that Southeastern would prefer that this kind of contact be made by phone. If this is the case, it would be good to implictly state that, at the head of your contact form and perhaps on your homepage.

    On the feedback page, the message says "Why not check our Frequently asked questions to see if your query has already been answered, or call our Customer Services team on 0845 000 2222", so I called that number.

    When I explained my problem, your customer services person told me I had the wrong number and should phone 0844 335 1640. When I did so, I was given a number of options, ranging from 'help with using the website', 'assisted travel' and 'customer services'. Customer services seemed the closest to what I wanted, but when I selected that, I got an automated message telling me to ring 0845 000 2222 - the number I'd just been sent away from.

    So I dialled again, chose 'issues with the website', and this time got through to a person who was able to help.

    It is a good thing that I had the patience to go through this process. I imagine that your customers have queries with web bookings every day - do they all manage to navigate this tortuous process?

    Have you, as I suspect, deliberately set the system up to dissuade contact and keep your customer service team's work at a manageable level? if so, I think that this is a disservice to your customers, and a false economy.

    anorak
    admin
  • 3 [email address] responded to Myf Nixon close 11:58 24 Jan 2012
    Please do not reply to this email. We are unable to respond to
    emails we receive at this address. If you’d like to email us
    another question or comment please use our email contact
    webform:
    http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/abo...

    Thank you

    Southeastern Customer Relations, PO Box 63428, London, SE1P 5FD

    Tel: 0845 000 2222

    Ref: 521627 / 292780

    Dear Mr Nixon

    The Association of Train Operating Companies have passed to us
    an email about your concerns regarding our website which you
    registered with fixmytransport.

    I am very sorry that you have experienced difficulties using our
    website after purchasing tickets. I understand you had a query
    following your transaction, and I should confirm that the link
    for information and for queries of this type (online ticket
    booking) is:

    http://tickets.southeasternrailway.co.uk...

    At the bottom of this page is the Web Support Team telephone
    number: 0844 3351 640 (between the hours of 08:00 - 21:00). The
    first option on the recorded message is to press 1 if you wish
    to speak to an agent about your online booking. I believe you
    must have viewed our general customer services online feedback
    page instead, which is for those with complaints about train
    services, lost property etc. However, I will certainly notify
    our Web Content Manager of your views on the clarity of the
    website to see if there any improvements that should be made.

    Once again, thank you for raising this matter and I am sorry you
    needed to do so. I hope this response is helpful.

    Yours sincerely

    Charles Higham

    Customer Relations Officer

    Southeastern

    Please do not reply to this email. We are unable to respond to
    emails we receive at this address. If you’d like to email us
    another question or comment please use our email contact
    webform:

    Disclaimer

    This email and any attachments (together "this email") are
    strictly confidential and intended solely for use by the
    individual or entity to whom they are addressed. Unauthorised
    use of this email (including disclosure, copying and printing
    for any reason) is strictly prohibited.

    Southeastern denies any responsibility and liability in relation
    to the transmission and use of this email to the extent
    permitted by law. Any views expressed by an individual within
    this email do not necessarily reflect the views of Southeastern.

    Any emails sent to Southeastern personnel may be monitored by
    systems or persons other than the addressee for purposes of
    ascertaining whether they comply with Southeastern’s policies.

    If you have received this email in error, please notify the
    sender immediately by email, facsimile or telephone.

    Please visit our website at: www.southeasternrailway.co.uk

    London & South Eastern Railway Limited is a company registered in England (No.04860660). 
    Registered office: 3rd Floor, 41-45 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6EE.

  • 4 Myf Nixon added an update close 12:25 24 Jan 2012

    Well, it basically confirms that you have to contact the web support team if you have an enquiry about your booking, which I still think is an unituitive labelling. But it does say they'll raise it with the Web Content Manager.

    As someone who's been the Web Editor for a large sprawling site representing a complex corporation, I feel for this Web Content Manager, as I know that changes like these can't be made overnight. I just hope my advice is helpful, rather than something that makes him or her sigh at the impossibility of improving usability at all on such a complicated site.

    anorak
    admin
  • 5 Myf Nixon commented close 15:30 21 Feb 2012

    Had a quick look at the website and there has been no change to the wording or content.

    anorak
    admin
  • 6 dglp commented close 22:45 04 Jun 2013

    Can you add a 'Like' button to threads and/or comments on this website?
    I liked your initial message!

Comment
  • started 10 January 2012
  • supporters 3
Train route between Brighton and Sittingbourne operated by Southeastern
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