Southeastern Customer Service, Complaints and Compensation: What Do We Want?

We have been working hard on our responses to the many questions in the consultation paper on the requirements for the new Southeastern franchise from December 2018. There’s lots to say, and we will be sharing some of our draft responses here for public comment and improvement. This first instalment is to the questions on customer service, complaints and compensation. Continue reading

On Southeastern, compliance with the 0845 law still seems lacking

Nearly three years ago the law changed to prohibit the use of 0845 numbers for customer service lines; and nearly two years ago OFCOM changed its regulations to require a business using 0845 numbers for any other purpose to specify its service charge and warn about access charges wherever it advertises or communicates the phone number.

However recent checks at Sevenoaks and Knockholt have shown continued, multiple, uses of 0845 numbers in breach both of the Consumer Regulations and the OFCOM conditions.

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This “Out of Service” screen shows Southeastern’s lack of customer focus

The ticket vending machine at Bat & Ball has been out of service for the last few days.

The “Out of Service” screen simply says that. Since it’s a programmable screen, it could have been specified to say anything. An organisation concerned with customer service might have asked the programmers to code the screen with:

  • an apology – “We’re sorry that this machine is out of order
  • an explanation – “This is because ...”
  • a confirmation that action is being taken – “It’s been reported and we’re working on it” (surely Southeastern have remote monitoring of their TVMs?!)
  • information about what to do instead – “You can start your journey without a ticket, but please buy a ticket at the first opportunity on the train or at another station“.

Southeastern have done none of this. All machines fail from time to time, and Southeastern should have thought through what the customer needs to know then. Here they’ve shown a lack of customer focus and a lack of priority to customer communication and customer information.

South East Smart Ticketing: £120m spent, and not much to show for it

The National Audit Office have published the results of their investigation into the South East Flexible Ticketing programme, of which Southeastern’s “Key” is part. It’s not good reading for the Department for Transport, or for the rail industry more generally. At least £120m has been spent since 2006, and it has not delivered its main objectives.  Continue reading