Friday, 3 August 2007

It's all gone wrong (Part 1 of FGW's failings)

I said yesterday that I would comment a bit today on ticketless travel but after work today, I'm starting my series on the failings of FGW early. I'd like to start off with subject which, right now, is somewhat close to my heart at the moment. That is the inability of some sections of First Great Western management to make a decision and stick to it.

As we all know, over the weekend of 20 July, Britain decided that it was time for global warming to make itself known and we had our own little monsoon that submerged most of the South West. After the water had receded and the clean ups began, First Great Western decided to have a little think about how they were going to compensate people who could not get their train hom and had to get taxis or accomodation or whatever.

The problem being that they took 10 days to decide this, while the Customer service office was being flooded (pun intended) with complaints. These complaints could not just be left until First Great Western made a decision about compensation as it would create a backlog that would be difficult to recover from. So complaints were answered in the stabdard form 'Act of God-no comp'. Then First Great Western decided that they were in fact going to pay compensation for tickets, taxis and accomodation.

(Incidentally, this is way beyond anything that they had to do in this situation and, whether you think its a cheap ploy to claw back some goodwill or now, they deserve far more credit than they are getting. Especially since the latest estimate is that compensation payments for 20th July alone are expected to run into 6 figures).

The inital plan was that season ticket holders, who were the majority affected would receive a lump payment dpendant on the length of their journey, plus and incidental expenses. Or at least that is the way it seemed. Daily ticket holders would receive full ticket comp plus expenses. Payment under these terms went on for about a week

Today, it seems, some bright spark (I know who but it's a secret) decided that this wasn't right at all and there had to be a maximum award decided that there had to be a maximum award for compensation of £100.00. So taxis and expenses were paid and then the difference up to £100.00 was a lump sum payment.

So now, it's bound to happen that you'll have commuters paid the first way chatting to commuters who were paid the second way and those who were paid the second way will feel gipped. A most effective way of removing any goodwill that has been built up and inviting further complaints.

This is the sort of slipshod thinking that cannot be excused and I cannot present FGW's point of view as even I don't see where they're coming from. Hopefully later, I can present my bit on ticketless travel and that will be more balanced.



Economy Klaus said...

Thanks for that insight into the bureaucratic beast that is First Great Western. Like many organisations, it's rather like the infamous duck-on-water metaphore: not much happening visibly above the waterline, but lots of furious paddling out of sight.

Insider said...

That is a very good metaphor. I just wish that both legs would paddle the same way more often