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Saturday, March 7, 2015

It really shouldn't be this hard

from:NT
to:cj@thiscrazytrain.com
date:Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 2:32 PM
subject:The latest "GO service guarantee" nonsense

Hi CJ!

Had to take a moment to send you the gist of my morning commute today, since I travelled from Oshawa to Union on what should have been the 6:12 am train.

Arrived at Oshawa to hear the announcement (which they repeated often and clearly - the folks who work at the Oshawa GO are great) that the 6:12 would be departing "5-10 minutes late due to switch problems". No problem - we all huddled in the nice warm station house and waited. Train came in at 6:12 but didn't actually depart for another 12ish minutes. Got to Whitby, left Whitby and came to a stop between Whitby and Ajax for a few minutes. Continued the rest of the trip (all stops to Union) with some slowdowns. Ultimately arrived at Union and disembarked at 7:35 am (both my travelling buddy and I cheked our respective phones). Since the scheduled arrival time is 7:11 am, we were a clear 24 minutes late and we both remarked that at least the trip would be free.

About an hour later, when settled at work, clicked onto the GO site to check my trip and register my PRESTO claim. Imagine my surprise when I received the "Unfortunately, no" response to "does my trip qualify?" - ostensibly because we weren't apparently 15 or more minutes late. Except that we were. 24 big minutes late.

I called Customer Service and spoke with "X". X informed me the train log was showing that we were only 7 minutes late. Impossible, I countered - passengers noted the time when we got off the train and it was clearly 24 minutes late.  Then "X" informs me - get ready - that GO doesn't use the time that the train actually arrives at the platform as its arrival time, for service guarantee purposes, but rather the time it arrives in the "service corridor" for the destination station. What the heck is the "service corridor?" I ask. She isn't sure, but thinks that for Union, coming from the east, it's "around York Street". Floored and royally pissed off, I point out two important things: a) the only arrival time that matters to a passenger is the one where they are permitted to disembark and move on with their day, so the "service corridor" arrival time is irrelevant when one speaks of a "service guarantee" and b) NOWHERE on GO's web site (or signage or anything else) does this information appear - in fact, I note, I have never heard the phrase "service corridor" in the many times I've had occasion to request a fare reimbursement or be in touch with Customer Service. I could almost see her shrug. I reiterated that the simple fact is that the train did not arrive at the station in a manner that allowed passengers to leave the train until 24 minutes after it was scheduled to do so, and she reiterated that "well, we don't use the time the train actually gets to the PLATFORM as the arrival time". When I somehow managed to point out through my increasingly clenched teeth that this was completely illogical, I was informed that she was "sorry I felt that way".

You know what comes next. I asked to speak to someone who could actually address this issue. She huffed and put me on hold and eventually I found myself speaking to "Y" who I am to assume is a supervisor. "Y" was a much better customer service representative. She reiterated everything that "X" had said, but in a manner that didn't inspire me to want to reach through the phone. She also did something that was even more useful: she acknowledged that this apparently policy is definitely not communicated to customers properly on the web site and even that she doesn't understand the logic of it herself. And then she very kindly took my PRESTO card number and advised that she would reimburse me for my trip, as well as following up to see if the language on the web site could be clarified so that people were made aware of this policy (which, though idiotic, is apparently the one the CS staff are obliged to cite).

In the end, I got what I wanted (a refund) but not before I had to spend 15 minutes on the phone and hear what has to be the most ridiculous service guarantee rule since "you can't be reimbursed for a late trip if you tapped your card more than 15 minutes prior to the departure time". Considering all the reasons that GO has NOT to reimburse trips, it's outrageous and just plan moronic to issue a service guarantee that is supposed to be based on arrival time and then redefine what "arrival" means. At the very least, I'm hoping to spread the word of this new development to as many GO passengers as possible, and thank heavens we all read your site, which is the perfect opportunity to do just that.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The 15 minute window actually makes sense. If I have a default on my card, think about it; I could tap 45 minutes before the train I actually take, find out that another train I didn't take was late and qualified. Then I get a free ride even though I was on time!

Bicky said...

This is new information I was not aware of. Interesting. Thanks for sharing your story.

Tyson Moore said...

I've had quite a few trips where I tapped before the 15-minute window, and my claims were denied. That said, it only took a 5-minute phone call to sort out, and I had the refunds within a few days. I think 15 minutes is a bit arbitrary, but when I explained "based on the time of my tap, I couldn't possibly have taken another train", they understood.

Squiggles said...

I am sorry. That seems like a load of crap. I say this having tapped on 16 mins early, was denied, called in and was reimbursed same day. NO one had ever said any of that.

But, this leads me to wonder: Did they mix up trains? I am saying that because one day late last week (either Thursday or Friday), there were train issues. So bad in fact that they originated a train at Ajax to bypass the Oshawa/Whitby delays. Normally the train was to leave Ajax at 6:26 (so it could have been your train) and it actually left 6:35-ish. The 6:26 (from Ajax) is supposed to be all stops. But (!!!) after Rouge Hill, it was express to Union. We actually made it into the station 6 mins earlier than had we did the normal route.

Skin Man said...

That 15 minute window is fairly old news. I was expecting to see a ton of vitriol regarding the service corridor. Did everyone else know about this?

C.J. Smith said...

First I heard of it and also, customer service reps shouldn't be using internal logistic terms with passengers. Really?!

Nora1968 said...

I'm the original letter-writer. I too am unsure why we're talking about the casually-mentioned-on-passing 15 minute tap time instead of the point of my email, which is the ridiculous "service corridor" arrival time BS...

Anonymous said...

I always thought the service corridor referred to the entire line. For example, I take the train from Oakville so I am on the LSW corridor. I'm pretty convinced that Metrolinx has a limit on the number of refunds they will grant and once the claims go over that limit they pull out every vague excuse in the book not to give you your money back.