Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The Tuesday Twat(s)No. 7. thetrainline.co.uk
Anyone who has ever tried to use our overstretched privatised rail network will no doubt be able to nominate a whole raft of railway Twats, but I save most of my vitriol for thetrainline.co.uk. Sadly, they are the only really practical way to buy tickets in advance. I have countless tales of woe - but this one really sums it up.
Over the summer, I was trying get a return train ticket from the NorthWest to Essex, over a weekend. The trains invariably go through London Euston, which is fine by me. There had been disruption over the preceding months with replacement bus services around the midlands making weekend travel a real pain in the arse. Despite it being the busiest rail route in the country, according to thetrainline.co.uk there were NO trains going from London to the Northwest that Sunday. At all. The only train listed left London at 2200h - and arrived at 0700h - yes you've guessed it, I could buy a ticket then sleep on the train as it sat idly in a train station. Err, No.
Finally, the best I could do was buy a single ticket to Essex, via London, then on the return journey buy a single from Essex, via London to the midlands, stay over night at relatives, then buy a second single ticket to finish my journey the following morning for an extortionate fare. Doing so meant that I needed to cancel a meeting on monday morning and take another day's holiday. I was seriously pissed off, but there was nothing I could do about it.
So I bought the tickets and travelled down to Essex. On the return, I travelled into London Euston and went to find my train to the midlands. I blinked unable to believe my eyes. The train to the midlands went to the stop I wanted - then continued to the NorthWest!!! WTF! thetrainline.co.uk told me it couldn't be done!
The train was due to leave in 15 minutes, so I went to the Virgin Travel office. Having purchased 2 single tickets, paying more than I would have done for 1 single ticket, I figured that I could probably get them to "join" the 2 tickets together. No.
"We can't do that, sir - you've already used part of your first ticket".
Well yeah, to get from Essex to here, but I'm continuing this journey. Ok, I would like to change the second ticket to today's date.
"We can't do that - you will have to buy a new one for £60".
Are you having a laugh?
I explained that I had been miss-sold the tickets.
"You bought them from thetrainline.co.uk - not Virgin, sir so I can't help you."
Virgin and thetrainline.co.uk are one and the same I helpfully pointed out.
"No they aren't, sir".
Well yes they are, if you buy a ticket from Virgin.co.uk the website says "Powered by thetrainline.co.uk". When you phone thetrainline.co.uk to query a booking, they answer the phone with a chirpy "Hello Virgin trains".
"No they don't" he insisted/lied. "Anyway, if your holiday is booked incorrectly you don't blame the airline do you?"
YOU DO IF ITS THE SAME SODDING COMPANY!
At this point I was told to phone thetrainline.co.uk directly, and whilst I was at it leave the office before I was escorted out.
So I phoned thetrainline.co.uk. After eventually getting through the bored and indifferent "advisor" made me repeat myself 3 times.
"So what do you want me to do?".
I want to join the 2 tickets together, so that I can stay on the train all the way home and not have to take another days holiday.
"I can't do that sir, you have used the tickets."
However, I was miss-sold them, your website stated that the train doesn't go to the Northwest - when actually it does.
"Did you ring in advance to check the train times today"
WTF? I'm not going to ring up and ask if they have invented a new train journey just for me, you fuckwit. When the trainline.co.uk claims that a journey doesn't exist - I rather naively assume that they are right, and that whilst journeys may be cancelled, they aren't going to be magically created.
I demanded to speak to his supervisor.
I demanded the address of the rail ombudsman.
I reminded him that he was legally obliged to give it to me.
I demanded his name.
He then said that he was going to hang up because I was raising my voice. I pointed out that I was running across the platform at Euston to grab the disputed train.
He hung up.
Anyway, I got on the train and waited until it left Euston, before making my way to see the train manager. I showed him the two tickets I had bought. He clucked his tongue sympathetically and said
"Don't worry mate, just stay on until you get to the NorthWest".
Labels: The Tuesday Twat(s)
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