Crappy Customer Service from Arriva

Dafydd Vaughan on 7 September 2006

Well yesterday evening had to have been the worse experience of customer service from Arriva Trains Wales I have ever seen – it almost beats the fun I had with Orange last year when getting my contract renewed. The evening started off very well with a meal and few drinks with the guys from work. When time came for me to get home, I headed over to Cardiff Central armed with my debit card and young person’s rail card (YPR) to get myself a ticket home.

On arriving at the station, they had 1 guy handling ticket sales, and naturally, there was a sizable queue. As a result I opted to use one of their brand new automatic ticket machines that were introduced when ticket barriers were installed at the station. I selected my ticket, added the YPR discount, and inserted my card as requested. All of a sudden “Out of Service” flashed up on the screen, and then went back to the start screen. No matter what i pressed, it would not return my card. Slightly annoyed, I joined the queue to the ticket desk, only to be told that there was nothing he could do as he hadn’t been trained on how to use the machine. I was sent to the station duty manager. He rang around the other offices in the station, only to find out that not a single member of staff on duty had been given any training, and as a result, there was no chance of me getting my card back until the morning – totally unacceptable. I could come back the next day to find the card is no longer in the machine and my account badly overdrawn.

At this point, it became obvious that the card was a lost cause and would have to be cancelled – leaving me without access to my bank account for 2 weeks until a new one arrives. However, although this is inconvienient, there is also the issue of paying for a ticket home. With my card now a useless piece of plastic inside a broken machine, how am I supposed to pay? The station manager decides that the train gard will have to give me an “Unpaid Fare Notice” and I will have to pay when I can get some money. Having had the station manager tell the guard to write one out, I was horrified to find out that it would not only force me to pay the FULL cost of the ticket (no YPR discount), but I would have to pay the fare by Cheque or Card. Bearing in mind I have no valid chequebook any more and my card has been lost, that could prove difficult.

Lets get this straight… you lost my card, leaving me with no bank account access for 2 weeks, AND you are expecting me to pay the FULL price even though I am authorised to have a discount AND you expect me to pay this within 10 days? **** off.

So in summary:

  • Arriva have chewed my card and won’t give it back
  • No Arriva staff who are trained to deal with the situation
  • Arriva wouldn’t let me have a YPR discount
  • I have to pay within 10 days or face an extra £20 fine and possible legal action
  • I have no access to my bank account for about 14 days until a new card arrives

Why do I get the feeling I’ve just been screwed by Arriva Trains Wales?! A very strongly worded letter will be on its way to them VERY soon.

Any views stated here are my own and not those of my employer unless otherwise stated.