Monday, 28 June 2010

"The quiet coach is a myth"

Another instalment from the Not-So-Quiet-Coach on Virgin Trains.

Tonight's travel companions? A family with young children. Adults valiantly trying to keep them quiet, which is something.

Besuited man two rows ahead of me asked them to keep quiet in low but cross tones.

And then he complained to the train manager about it when she came to check the tickets. She said "We can't do anything about children in the quiet coach".

He gave her a hissed earful.

She turned away from him when it looked like he hadn't quite finished.

He grabbed his bag and stomped out of the coach.

Now I don't think that getting stroppy with the family was the approach I'd have taken. As an auntie of five I know that young children don't do quiet unless they're asleep.

But if the train manager can't / won't do anything, then as Relative Sanity quite rightly says, the quiet coach is a myth.

I don't think there's any point at all in forbidding customers to use mobile phones in here if Virgin aren't going to at least try and control noise created by other passengers.

Thankfully it doesn't cost extra to sit in here, which is something. But perhaps it should. I'd gladly pay a premium to sit in a genuinely quiet coach. And I do mean genuinely quiet. Not as it currently is.

Because it does make it very difficult to work if the environment is noisy.

Speed the day when I can afford to travel first class :-)

UPDATE: Another tweet contact has quite rightly pointed out that it can be awkward if a family's booked seats and have ended up in the quiet coach. Perhaps Virgin should add - or designate - a family coach.

UPDATE 2: I have contacted Virgin Trains customer service using the feedback form on their website, to give my feedback about the quiet coach issues I've encountered. Let's see what effect that has...

Friday, 25 June 2010

Sometimes it needs a real person

My browser of choice when I'm on my home PC is definitely Firefox.

I was using it to make a screencast a couple of weeks back and managed to lose not only the navigation bar but also the menu bar (the bit that says File, Edit, View, etc) which made life much harder.

All of a sudden navigation was well-nigh impossible and I was having to bite the bullet and use IE as my browser.

Then this afternoon I got fed up and pinged out a tweet asking if anyone knew how to fix the problem and bring back my menu bar.

Within seconds I got a reply from a friend with the answer - press Alt + F and the menu bar will temporarily reappear so that you can choose View, Menu Bar to turn it back on permanently.


Firstly, thanks Patrick.

But there's also a lesson to learn here for customer service.

No matter how good your knowledge base, manual, website or other support documentation is, there are times when you do just want to ask a "real person", a "quick question".

This is why a phone or live chat support helpline is so valuable. Even if the answer to your question is in the support documentation, sometimes you just don't have time to wade through and find it.

And this is also why push-button helplines are a pain. Struggling through all those menus trying to work out which option you need... Oh for "press 1 to speak to a real person".

Or, even better would be, "Press 1 to speak to a real, intelligent person".