Monday, January 14, 2008

Oyster: no progress

In March of last year we had a very unpleasant experience while travelling on the London Underground. My wife's Oyster card failed (the Oyster system double dipped in error and made the card go into the red) and my wife could not get through an exit gate. She asked for help and was taken aside and verbally assaulted by a member of TFL staff. The member of staff made no attempt whatever to examine the card or to understand the problem. All his energy was directed at shouting and berating. After a few minutes of sport, he let my wife go.

TFL have sent us a cheque for a small amount of money which covered the erroneous double dipping by the Oyster system, but the more serious matter of the detention and assault (for that is what it was) has not been resolved. TFL have made no attempt at all to contact us to ask what happened. Through London Travel Watch we have received messages that TFL take this kind of thing very seriously, but that's it. No action.

While trying to get TFL to deal with this matter other people have told me that they have been in just the same situation themselves. The assault and detention of my wife was not an isolated incident.

Given our experience, and the reaction (or total lack of it) of TFL I suggest the following:

If you are detained and assaulted (verbally or otherwise) by a member of TFL staff it seems that your only option is to call the police right away. No internal TFL process will help you at all, so don't try to deal with TFL. Get an external party involved, i.e. the police.

That way there will be a record of exactly what happened and when, and details of the member of staff involved will be also recorded. This is important because the technique TFL use in resolving such matters, if left to themselves, is to drag the thing out so that all memory of the event is eventually lost.

Or so they hope.

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