Monday, March 24, 2008

>1 year later, TfL respond

At long last, TfL have made a serious attempt at addressing the issues raised by the incident, over a year ago, in which my wife was detained and assaulted by a member of TfL staff because a failure in the Oyster system meant her card didn't work correctly.

Sorry this is quite long, but since I have blogged for so long about this it seems only fair to show you all of what TfL have to say. Note, though, that this letter is not actually from TfL, it is from London Travel Watch who seem to be acting as editors ...

Dear Mr Badger,

Subject: Dissatisfaction with Oyster

Thank you for your recent email, TfL have now provided a response which was received on 14 March 2008. Tfl apologise for the delay in replying.

In order to answer the points raised, TfL have answered them one by one and I have set this out for you in the same format below; the bold text being your further questions.

TfL need to acknowledge that there are systemic problems with the Oyster system and the training of station staff regarding the Oyster system.

By and large, TfL say the Oyster system has proved to be a success. Its introduction has reduced congestion in ticket halls, as well as allowing station staff to be more flexible, out with the customers where they are needed. However, there are occasions when an error will occur on a card and they do sympathise, as this can be very frustrating. Fortunately, they say the majority of these problems can be resolved by their Station staff. That said, some more complicated issues will require the help of specialist Oyster staff. This is due to the significant scale of the Oyster system, as well as the complex mechanisms and procedures that govern its operation. We would agree with TfL that on the whole Oyster has been a success, but there have been issues and this could be put down to it being a new system.

In terms of the training of their staff, all London Underground station staff undergo an extensive three week initial training programme, before taking up their post within the station. During this course they are trained to effectively provide customers with support, advice and assistance in many areas including Oystercard protocol. This training is further consolidated by an additional two weeks of mentoring with a senior member of staff.

TfL say with the ongoing support of their training and development department, station staff continue to be trained, and develop the appropriate skills to ensure excellent customer service standards.

TfL need to explain what station staff should be expected to do in
situations such as the one we suffered.

If an error occurs on a customer's card, TfL say a Customer Service Assistant (CSA) should take them to the ticket office where a statement can be printed. If this does not resolve the issue, the CSA has access to further information from the staff Oyster helpline. London Underground Station staff are the public face of TfL. As such, they are expected to be courteous and respectful at all times. They are sorry that your experiences were contrary to this.

TfL need to explain what passengers should do in situations such as the one we suffered. (e.g. should we have immediately called the police?)

If a customer wishes to complain about an incident or a member of TfL staff, they can speak to the Station Supervisor. If this is still not sufficient, the supervisor should explain the complaints procedure, where matters can be investigated further. If the incident is a particularly serious one, the customer can demand that the British Transport Police are contacted.

Most of all, TfL need to take this matter seriously. Some of their words suggest they are taking this seriously. Their actions say very loudly and very clearly that they are not taking this seriously at all.

TfL say they are eager to resolve this matter to your satisfaction. In order to do this however, they require a detailed account of what happened (e.g. in what way was your wife assaulted), including a detailed description of the member of staff involved. Without this information, they say there is very little they can do to pursue this incident further.

If you would like to meet with an appropriate manager to discuss the matter, TfL say you should phone Cassius Powell, the Group Station Manager (GSM) at Bank station on 020 79189875.

TfL do not feel it would be appropriate to offer a further goodwill gesture, as they feel that the earlier cheque was sufficient. They also do not wish to give you the impression that they are simply giving you money in the hope that you will drop the matter. As already mentioned, TfL repeat they are very keen to resolve this incident to your satisfaction, and the emphasis they feel must be on that.

The offer of a meeting might prove helpful as face to face contact rather than correspondence can be beneficial. If you have any comments or questions on the above, please let me know. If you are dissatisfied and in order to see if we can progress this further with TfL, it might be helpful to state why and to do so in point format in response to their answers.

Yours sincerely

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