Six weeks ago we reported on the launch of The Key, Southeastern’s Not-Very-Smart-Card. It seemed very limited – season tickets only, no Pay-As-You-Go, no automatic Delay-Repay, not even compatible with TfL Oyster/Contactless or the similarly-named Key on Southern. But we’re getting reports that it is not even working for season tickets – and that some of our supporters are having to buy second tickets.
Feedback from our members and supporters have confirmed our very low expectations of this poor man’s Oyster card. Our original article has triggered a record number of comments.
Some parts of the season ticket processes do not seem to have been thought through, or perhaps are not ready. For instance there seems no way for annual season ticket holders to get Gold Card discounts on other rail travel other than to keep their paper ticket (as well). And, in some circumstances, there is a very narrow time ‘window’ to transfer a paper ticket onto the Key card – that assumes that all the systems are working when you have to do it.
However most troubling is that some supporters – such as Adam K and Ciaran – have been unable to load tickets that they bought online onto their Key cards, and that neither the ticket office nor Southeastern Customer Services are able to help. In at least one case a supporter reports that, having spent £3,500 on an annual season ticket that didn’t load onto the Key card, he was told by Southeastern that he had to spend a further £3,500 on a paper ticket – leaving his shiny new Key card only good for scraping ice off his car’s windscreen. That’s surely a new low for customer service, even by Southeastern’s standards.
It seems that the implementation of the Key may have been rushed to meet the DfT deadline of December 2016 and that design of supporting business processes, testing of the system and training of staff to support it have been lacking. The result is that some passengers switching to The Key are frustrated and suffering – and in some cases seriously out of pocket – because they’ve effectively been lumbered with doing Southeastern’s testing work for them.
We’ve been in touch with Southeastern at mangement level. They’ve offered to help sort out the individual cases that our supporters have highlighted, and that’s in hand. More generally they acknowledge that there have been technical problems, but say “most” of these have now been resolved; and they also acknowledge that there may have been staff error. They say that the “overwhelming majority of season ticket holders who have successfully transferred their paper-based tickets to the Key have not reported any problems”. However that’s a bit of a tautology (if it was successful then there wouldn’t have been any problems). More importantly the people who are out of pocket are those who have tried to buy a season ticket to be loaded directly onto their Key card – those who have paper tickets can obviously continue to use them if they cannot be transferred to the Key.
If you have had any experiences – good or bad – with The Key on Southeastern, please let us know here.