Why National Express are muppets

Fresh from being angered about my Council Tax Bill, National Express get my weekend off to a superb start.

Me and Mrs Tory Radio commute down to London each day from Newark at a price of £8,000 each per year. So to pay for £16,000 I guess you have to earn £24,000. Just writing that has made me even grumoier.

As we do it every day we know what platform our train leaves from and wander down to wait for it to be serviced, the reservations put on before it is called for boarding. Only then do we ever get on and staff from National Express are usually happy to let us.

Today Mr jumped up jobsworth approaches my wife and asks what are we doing on the platform. waiting for our train we say, given we have valid tickets to travel. He says we can’t stand on the platform as the train hasnt been announced. I point out that if they didnt want people to walk down the platform they should man the gate and close it, which is what happens at St Pancras. He suggests it’s not the job of National Express, so I point out that as my ticket says “any routes” I can stand on the platform as I may not be even using his franchise for part of my journey.

He then argues that it isnt fair that we are standing next to the train waiting for it to be announced just because we know (as we travel regularly) that its our train. At which poingt I point out I don’t think £8,000 and a 6% increase is fair. I don’t think the fact that you can only reserve seats for up to four weeks is fair. I don’t think the fact that first class season ticket holders have a reward scheme and standard season ticket holders get nothing is fair.

He then says we can’t stand there because we may get in the way of station staff. I point out we are standing, and waiting in an empty luggage trolley bay, and given another train from a different franchise is boarding on the other side of the platform that argument really doesn’t work does it.

To cap it all, the lady putting the reservations on the train said she was more than happy for us to stand there and wait as long as we didn’t board before she had finished (WHICH WE NEVER DO). Biy did he look gutted when his colleague undermined him.

I think my message to National Express and David Franks would be this. Don’t use arguments of fairness to the travellers who buy hugely expensive season tickets and get no loyalty back whatsoever.  Maybe start to treat people as customers as opposed to a problem that you really don’t like. And maybe you want to sort out the delay and repay scheme that customers try to use when their train has been delayed before you start moaning at your loyal users.

Just a thought!

Update – I do apologise – they do of course give us “free” wifi for our £16,000

Can they have it both ways?

The continued talk of credit crunches and banks going to the wall really has got me thinking.

It seems as though there are some businesses that you can make as much hay as you care to when the sun shines, and when that rainy day comes you can ask someone else to cover your back side.

It reminds me of the insurance industry in the states. They have always been happyto take the money from people during the good weather, but when a hurricane comes and wipes out millions of dollars worth of property on coast of the gulf of mexico they go cap in hand for federal help.

Nice businesses if you can get it. Making money in the good times, and being bailed out by the state when things get bad.

Part of me hopes we aren’t going to be going down that route here.