Thursday, 5 November 2009

Virgin says "computer says no"

Yesterday morning. M at the station ready to travel to Edinburgh once she had collected her ticket from the pre-pay machine, having bought it with a credit card on the fab Raileasy website.

Looks in rucksack... coat pocket... no wallet and therefore no credit card, debit card, cash or anything.


Remembers she left wallet in pocket of other coat the previous night.

Stops panicking and hopes that nice lady behind the counter can issue her ticket given she (M) knows the booking reference number (written in her diary) and all the details of the journey.

Nice lady says no because computer says it must have the credit card that made the booking.

Nice lady also says "please let me finish" when M was not aware she had interrupted in the middle of a sentence. (Middle of a paragraph maybe but humans do not always have to deliver a pre-prepared speech.)

M cannot travel to Edinburgh.

M has to phone husband and get him to come to the station with cash to buy another ticket.

Husband arrives just as train leaves - without M on it.

M is late for work and cross with Virgin Trains. "Computer says no" is a feeble excuse for bad customer service.

WiFi on the train

Now that I'm travelling up and down to Edinburgh several times a week, I'm trying to find out whether I can access the internet on the train (mobile broadband dongle is hopeless on the train because the reception is so poor).

Virgin have WiFi on their Pendolino trains. But the trains that run between Carlisle and Edinburgh are SuperVoyagers which don't yet have WiFi.

Virgin say on their website that this will be available in "Summer 2009". OK, it's now November. That's not summer by any stretch of the imagination.

The other trains that run between Carlisle and Edinburgh are First TransPennine Express trains.

So I asked both these train companies about WiFi. For Virgin, it was "what is the updated timescale for putting WiFi on SuperVoyager trains?" and for TransPennine, it was, "are you planning to put WiFi on your trains?"

That was about 2 weeks ago.

TransPennine have since said "no - but we do have power sockets at every table". What good that's going to do me when I'm trying to access the Internet I do not know :-)

And Virgin haven't replied yet. Black mark for customer service there.