How not to do PR – by East Midlands Trains!

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I have had quite a good run recently in respect of ‘run ins’ with companies over poor service – however it appears that my stepdaughter Star has stepped into the breach and picked up the baton so to speak!

She is a regular user of the train between Nottingham and Grantham (or Bottesford), so has on a regular basis used the ticket machines at Nottingham station. No problem so far – the machines usually work fine and present her with a ticket – until this week!

On Tuesday she was in a hurry, so at the station she used the machine which took her debit card, debited her account and then failed to provide a ticket. Unfortunately as she was in a bit of a hurry she tried again – same result. So she was now almost £12 down with no ticket. This also meant she had missed her train – so the bus provided temporary shelter back at home.

My issue is with the attitude that East Midlands Trains (EMT) appear to have over a matter like this – they informed her that the money would be paid back into her account over night, fair enough. But we are now 3 days later and no money has appeared back in the account – and as a student £12 is not something she can afford to lose – even temporarily. Having ‘nagged’ her to chase the company it now transpires that it can take up to 5 days for the money to appear back in her account – this was finally confirmed by the manager (Jane) at the station (and it sounds as if this is a regular event for her to deal with).

The station had initially confirmed that the issue was caused by badly aligned tickets in the machine – their problem not ours. Although subsequently it has been blamed on a ‘communication issue’. Also they work on the basis that the money has not left my stepdaughter account so it isn’t their problem – it is true that it hasn’t left the account but it is ‘ring fenced’ so inaccessible – and that is their fault due to the machine not doing its job.

Unfortunately I had to get involved as Star was getting nowhere – so eventually a call to Mark in customer relations at EMT in Derby was made (he doesn’t have a surname apparently). He was very solid in the ‘party line’ that it wasn’t their fault. I suggested that it wasn’t a great way to impress your future customers and get them to use your services! I asked if some show of good faith was in order perhaps? Apparently not – I was very firmly told this case did not justify any form of credit or similar.

Now during my talk with Jane the manager at Nottingham station (prior to my call to Mark) she had suggested that a £5 voucher ‘might’ be paid as a show of good faith – but she couldn’t make that offer herself – that is why I called Mark (but didn’t confirm this to him as I wanted to see what his attitude would be). Interestingly after my call to Mark she spoke to him to confirm she had suggested that to me – now that is something I applaud, thank you Jane.

Guess what – I then received a call back from Mark to confirm that he had spoken to Jane and because of that he would send a £5 voucher. He made it very clear though that it was because of her offer to me – otherwise ‘it wouldn’t normally justify one’.

So what do I think?

The manager Jane at the station was good, and helpful – she is at the sharp end after all and perhaps has a better ‘take’ on how to deal with customers!

Customer services were very poor – the offer was eventually made but it was also made clear to me that it was made ‘under sufferance’! Great public relations! And customer services really need to work on their people skills!

So in reality a save for EMT – but somehow it still feels like it was our fault?

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2 thoughts on “How not to do PR – by East Midlands Trains!

    Richard Baker said:
    July 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Just where do you start with this? I’ll skip the bluster and get straight to the point: we can now officially conclude that East Midlands Trains believes the total value of its reputation to be £12.

    […] experience with East Midland Trains – the good and the bad – you can refresh your mind here if you wish. Is that you […]

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