PUBLISHED: 11:57 15 May 2008 | UPDATED: 13:15 06 May 2010
SIR, — The full contempt with which train operator First Capital Connect (FCC) treats its customers was painfully clear on Tuesday when the new multi-storey car park opened at the station. Your reported quotes from other commuters has already summed up
SIR, - The full contempt with which train operator First Capital Connect (FCC) treats its "customers" was painfully clear on Tuesday when the new multi-storey car park opened at the station. Your reported quotes from other commuters has already summed up the main complaints - a 45 per cent price hike, the neglected and unfit state of the temporary car park (a field) and the double whammy of a poor and expensive train service - but it is also hard to comprehend the ineptitude of the outfit than I have encountered in the first few days of operation.
1.) The credit card machines don't work - "just buy the more expensive daily ticket if you don't have the cash or try your luck with the office..."
2.) The staff are untrained and isolated - "if we keep changing the language on the ticket machine will we finally get to the weekly ticket option..."?
3.) The finger pointing - "it's FCC's fault that it is more expensive and isn't working properly...", "no, it's NCP who operate the car park, try them".
4.) The lifts, and at times the barriers, are not operational - "well, it's early days, you have to expect it to be like this"; "out-of-order signs, why should we put those up"?
5.) The lack of communication - "it was opened late so we had to communicate prices at the last minute..." What exactly precluded FCC from telling us what was coming other than blatant cowardice?
6.) The unlikely honesty - "well yes, it's to fund the new housing development" (from an NCP staff member) or "I am only paid £5.75 an hour and they haven't even given me any toilet paper" (again, from an NCP staff member)
My efforts with NCP last week have resulted in a predictable "hands-up, but we can't do anything about it". The real culprits are FCC and the greed with which they are extracting more and more money from both the St Albans commuter and the taxpayer. I thought we were supposed to have seen the end of this with the death of Railtrack. When will we be given a reliable, clean, cost-effective railway and local transport infrastructure and a train company which makes rail transport it's first priority?
Perhaps we'll get another appearance from the FCC managing director at the station with some more malleable statistics and a passive aggressive stance on all things FCC. It can't be any worse than the oddball mix we were subjected to on Tuesday last week from the makeshift NCP/FCC PR people.
Before St Albans becomes renamed the "Tesco Verulamium Site" or the "Grange-sponsored former site of the Milehouse", perhaps it is time for the district council and its MP to stand up for the people who elect them. Failing that, perhaps it is time we started to acted collectively as consumers who are being subjected to abuses of market power and complete contempt.
At least I got a full 25 per cent on my ticket back from FCC after my train was delayed for an hour - thank you First Capital Connect.
The Willows, St Albans.