Tuesday, May 26, 2015

All aboard the ghost train - epilog

by Chris P. Bacon

Back in March, I got to travel on a GO Transit ghost train.  If you recall, the trip was a comedy of errors, and precipitated an e-mail to Metrolinx asking why the GO Train Service Guarantee claim could not be submitted.  I know, you’re wondering whether Greg Percy & Co. ever responded to that e-mail.

I must share with you that when Gary McNeil ran GO Transit, he always responded to my queries – weekends included.  I asked him once whether he wanted to be apprised of issues I encountered.  Mr. McNeil responded as follows: 

Subject: Re: PRESTO transaction history out of sync with reality
Date:   Fri, 30 Mar 2012 01:51:33 +0000
From: Gary McNeil
To:       Me

Pls [sic] keep me in the loop. I like to hear the true customer experience.

The current president of GO Transit has never responded directly to my e-mail; the ghost train experience was no exception.  It was a month before anyone from Metrolinx even acknowledged my query – in stark contrast to Bombardier’s Raymond Bachant, President, Americas Division, Transportation, who responded to my e-mail commending our CSA in less than twelve hours.  GO Transit finally answered my query as follows:

Subject: GO Transit, A Division of Metrolinx EM0018001412
Date:   Mon, 4 May 2015 09:42:43 -0400
From: GO Transit Customer Relations
To:       Me

Dear Mr. S,

Thank you for your patience while I looked further into this matter for you.

I’m not sure if you’re aware that the GO Train Service Guarantee system is a fully-automated system. It relies on a trains scheduled arrival time to determine if a trip was late. It will then use additional information, such as how many minutes the train was delayed and for what reason, to discover if the trip is eligible for a refund.

Unfortunately, since there is no scheduled arrival time for this trip, the Service Guarantee system is unable to determine if the trip was late. However, I would be happy to apply a credit to your PRESTO card for the price that you paid for your trip, as a customer service gesture. This credit will be available for you to claim within 2 business days from today’s date, May 4th, 2015. Simply tap your card onto any PRESTO device after this time frame and the credit will be uploaded automatically.

Thank you for letting me assist you.

P. E.
Director, Customer Care, GO Transit

Cc.      Greg Percy, President, GO Transit
Robert Hollis, Executive Vice President, PRESTO

There you have it.  Over six weeks to get and answer from the GO Transit award winning Sunshine List team.  Awesome, isn’t it?

As CJ advised in this recap of less than stellar service on the LSE, you are encouraged to send e-mail to the president of GO Transit with your concerns.  I find it never hurts to copy CJ, too.  Remember, you pay the salaries of these folks.


Nora1968 said...

I'm intrigued to see that the automated process described for determining service guarantee eligibility for a late arrival (why would you be requesting one for an on-time train, really?) doesn't include among its factors the "service corridor arrival time" BS I was treated to a few months back when my very late 6:12 am LSE train arrived at Union at 7:35 pm (about 25 minutes late).

At the time, CJ kindly posted my experience on this blog and NO ONE had ever heard of the "service corridor arrival time" as a component of determing whether a trip is "on time" or not - this is quite possibly because the poor excuse for a customer service rep I spoke to initially made it up and everyone else involved who followed her had no choice but to pretend that this was a real thing. When I followed up some time later to enquire why this important detail had yet to be added to the Service Guarantee page of the GO web site, I was met with zero response.

So I'm not surprised at the length of time it took you to receive what is fundamentally a non-answer. I love, though, how they suddenly feel compelled to reimburse YOU (but no one else), as a "customer service gesture". A better one, I'm sure, would have been a cogent response, and sometime weeks earlier than you received it. We do pay their salaries (effectively) but, in case you haven't noticed, this truth does absolutely nothing to impact the level of service and respect that Metrolinx routinely shows its customers.

Chris P. Bacon said...

Yes, Nora1968, you are absolutely correct. I rolled my eyes at yet another perfunctory reply. I could have re-engaged them over the nonsensical "customer service gesture", but to what end? I don't get angry anymore. I just note the source, file the response, and share it with others - all in the name of transparency. There's already another story in the works for This Crazy Train; I can't get bogged down with history.

Anonymous said...

Chiming in that the "customer service gesture" grinds my gears. You were owed the refund, it isn't them being nice.

Whats this service corridor arrival time business about?

Nora1968 said...

@Anonymous: I had never heard of this "service corridor" thing until the day I went online to claim my refund for a 25-minute late arrival and the automated system said "sorry, train wasn't late". When I called CS, the girl there told me (in tones that suggested that I was an idiot) that the arrival time for the Service Guarantee "isn't the time the train actually arrives at the PLATFORM". Since I couldn't imagine an alternative, I enquired and was told (with the verbal equivalent of hugely rolled eyes) that of course the time they use to determine if a train is late is the arrival time in the "service corridor". All attempts to (a) advise that never in all my years of travelling with GO has I ever heard of a "service corridor", (b) determine where, exactly, this corridor actually begins, and (c) point out that, unless the train stops and the doors open for passengers to disembark in the "service corridor", the arrival time at that location is irrelevant to the service guarantee were met with huffs, puffs and general insolence.

A slightly higher-up CS rep was nicer about it but reiterated the service corridor policy (but as I said, I had the distinct feeling she was doing so under duress) and she even admitted that it "made no sense whatsoever". And magnanimously offered to refund my fare (which I was OWED, as you note). She also agreed that she would look into clarifying this service corridor thing and ensure that it is clearly outlined on the Service Guarantee portion of the web site since NO ONE has ever heard of that being a factor. To this day, the words "service" and "corridor" do not appear together ANYWHERE on the GO Transit web site. I wonder why.....

Anonymous said...

Oh wow. Now that's silly.
In my mind, until those doors open it hasn't arrived yet.

Michael Suddard said...

I would forward this to the Ontario Ombudsman who, on Twitter, is asking if he should do an investigation into GO Transit.

This is precisely the customer service that GO Transit seems to be dealing out lately. I don't fault their people on Twitter or on the phone as they seem to be doing their best. I fault the management.

The Ontario Ombudsman will gladly investigate customer service issues to get at the truth. I mean if he can figure out Hydro One better than Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, he can easily disect Go Transit's issues.