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The state of customer service and user experience on Britain’s railways and the delay repay scheme is well past being a national joke. Its from the dark ages, and like the dinosaurs, its needs to become extinct.

A couple of weeks ago we travelled down to the harbour for an afternoon out. Upon arriving at the train station to see the not unusual horror with Southern (F)Rail of Delays and Cancellations across the departure screens.

To cut a long story short, the train that did eventually arrive was around 45 mins late, and stopped short of the destination, meaning we had to get a taxi to finish the journey. No surprise either, that later in the evening, the return journey hadn’t made it through, so it meant a taxi back.

Southern have made a big thing of their delay repay scheme since the last time I tried to use it a few years ago, so I thought let’s give this a go. Well, they don’t make it easy for you, do they, and that’s only half of it. The process itself its quite clunky, almost like its designed for you to give up and decide it’s not worth the effort. Get yourself a cup of tea while going through it.

I then get a series of emails this week. The 1st telling me that one of the claims has been rejected, as its duplicated. Apparently, and yes this is true, I cant submit the claim for me and my partner, each person has to submit their own claim. Wow.

2nd email, your claim has been approved, and we are refunding you the princely sum of £1.20. 13% of the total fare. 13%!!! And that’s only for the 1 ticket, not the 2 I actually bought from them!

In what world is this acceptable? And to make it worse, they actually seem proud of this standard judging by the amount of posters they have promoting around their stations.

If this was a private company not refunding customers correctly in such an appalling way, and leaving them out of pocket after a purchase you didn’t fulfil, you would be on watchdog.

2 dreadful experience with railways the last couple of weeks, and the nation wonders why passenger numbers are down…but what do the TOCS care these days, they are now on management contracts, little if any incentive for them to actually deliver what the customers require.

We can hope that the much vaulted Williams review finally bring the companies into line, or does away with them altogether, but anyone old enough to remember the nationalised days of the 70’s or mid 80s may shudder at that thought. Central government programmes don’t have a strong record of delivering for the actual end user.

Its highway robbery and it’s a scandal they can still get away with it. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask.


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