Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Tuesday Twat(s)
No. 45. Virgin Rail
"Christmas is coming,
Branson's getting fat,
All I want is a ticket home,
You irritating Twat!"
I feel a bit of a cheat doing Virgin Rail, given that I have already done theTrainline.co.uk. Despite the protestations of the telephone operators, VirginRail.co.uk and theTrainline.co.uk are actually one and the same. Nevertheless, Virgin have earned this one all on their own.
With Christmas and New Year approaching, I have been forced to join the mad scramble for the last remaining, mythical, cheap rail tickets. Fortunately, I have managed to avoid having to buy tickets back to Mum and Dad's on the 23rd by persuading an obliging sibling to drive me home. This is probably just as well, considering that I have just ordered Mum and Dad's christmas present - a brand new computer printer. A few years ago I tried to catch the train with a foot spa for Mum's birthday. By the time I got back, the wrapping paper looked like it had been mauled by an angry poodle with overgrown toenails.
However, I am going down south to see in the New Year with a bunch of old uni mates. I logged on to VirginRail to try and find a return ticket. £70 was the cheapest on offer. Since I have started working at the Sports Centre, I have taken to measuring everything in terms of daily wages and I'm buggered if I am paying 2 days wages for a 2 hour train journey. So following the "buy single tickets option" I split the ticket up. £58 down and £11 back. Yup that's right, it costs five times as much to travel there than back. An identical route and timing. WTF?
OK, I thought. How about the bus? The round trip for the bus was a cheaper £48 - but the catch was that it was 4 hours down - and 8 hours back. I've said before, that me and long road journeys don't get on terribly well, and the thought of 8 hours (possibly with hangover) really doesn't do it for me. So I decided. Go for the trip there on the bus (£32) and catch the train back (£11). Expensive, but given the money I've saved by coming home in the car, I'll swallow it.
Now the fun begins...
I log on to VirginRail. In order just to check times, I needed to create a user account (why? I suspect its just so that they can flog my email address to spammers - does anyone believe that privacy statement? No, thought not). after going through all of that bullshit, I logged in. Clicking through several pages of options, I chose my ticket. A Virgin Value C. There was also a Virgin Value B for a fiver more - then everything else was £50.
This is what I am met with.
So I decide to phone. After 14 minutes 38 seconds (yes I did look at the call timer) listening to the same recorded message telling me "For your added convenience you can now by tickets online at..." (Why "added" is emphasised I have no idea), I finally get through.
Now, over the years I have lived all over the country. Because of this, any one who meets me describes my accent as "neutral English". Very few people can guess where I am from. It isn't BBC English, but when I speak on the phone I have very little regional bias (I've been told this by both native and non-native english speakers). Nevertheless, the voice recognition software had garbled my details beyond recognition, and I had to start again. I swear that they only include that option to give you something to do whilst the sole operator in the call centre finishes their cup of coffee.
"I'm sorry, sir. I can't book the ticket either. There appears to be a technical hitch. I'll log it. Try again in 1/2 an hour." It's a sunday, no way will it be fixed in half an hour, and I have things to do.
Two hours later, I try again. I repeat the whole rigamarole all over again, only to be met at the final stage with the same screen again. Sod, it I think. I'll phone again. According to the clock on my phone, it takes almost exactly the same time again to get through (coincidence? I'll let you decide).
This time the operator (different one - must have been a shift change) is a bit more honest.
"They haven't released those tickets for sale"
"Then why are they listed on the website?"
He ignores my question.
"Try again in a few days time"
"When will they be released - I'm not paying £50, I want the cheap tickets."
"I don't know, sir"
I'll bet you bloody don't. I am convinced that they don't really exist, and that even though I will try to buy them at 9am and again at 10pm every day they will magically sell out, leaving me with no choice but to pay full fare.
Virgin Rail - money grabbing twats. Bet the train is cancelled, as well.
Labels: The Tuesday Twat(s)
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