The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

National Rail: Gulag style customer service comes to London Waterloo

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Last night, I lost my train ticket. It did a disappearing act between coming through the Jubilee Line turnstyle and paying 30p to use the lady’s facility at London Waterloo.

It cost me £18-40 when I bought it at 4 o’clock – A day travel card.

So what does one do? Of course, you ask for assistance. And expect some form, perish the concept, of customer service.

Anyway, there I was, looking exactly like what I am: A 44-year old divorcee with a stinking cold trying to get home after attending Classic FM’s Carol Concert at Westminster Abbey. All on my own, no pack of hoodies in sight, speaking clear and concise (granted: slightly nasally challenged by the cold) English, and I never even said innit once. All I wanted was some help, and to find out the cheapest way to get home.

What I  got, was a rude and bolshy muscleman with a shaved head and very little interest in listening to what I had to say at all. Granted, the young Chinese counter assistant at least LOOKED sympathetic, but I wonder whether that was to do with her severe challenge in the English comprehension department.

“Look lady” says Muscleman, “I get your types every day, trying to buck the system. No ticket, no travel.”

Fair enough, I guess. Except I certainly don’t do this everyday, and when I pointed out that I had a valid proof of purchase, issued by their own ticket office, he snorted. And as for being typecast by someone who had known me for a total of 30 seconds? Well, I will reserve my opinion on that.

So I bought the £13 ticket, whilst having my question ignored of why the return ticket I bought originally was only a fiver more. And then I saw it on his chest: Revenue Protection Officer. That’s when I got it. This big brute was specifically employed to make sure that little ladies like me don’t rob this huge national entity from it’s rightful income. The fact that my rightfully earned income had to pay twice for a journey I only undertook once, proof of purchase regardless, is evidently beside the point.

Ironically, I’ve just posted several forums on LinkedIn with a question about whether a second fee should be due if a client recruited two people off a single shortlist. This scenario always raises conjecture about customer service, and the perceived exchange of values. And often results in a major fee reduction on the second placement.

I guess its a good job the railways aren’t in the business of recruitment. Their revenue protection strategies would bankrupt industry!


Written by Cathy Richardson

December 16, 2009 at 10:38 am

Posted in Recruitment

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