Friday, 11 November 2011

The bus ticket scandal!!

Here is a good one... frankly you can't make this sh** up!

We have for the last 4 and a bit years bought my daughter a termly season ticket to get to school on the local bus company.  Luckily the council just introduced a scheme when she moved to secondary school that allows us to get that at half price - yes unbelievable to many of you but until then in the free republic of Medway you had to pay full fare to get your kids to school!  Even at half price that is a lot of money - that latest one cost us £98 a couple of weeks ago... yes folks about £600 a year for about a 4 mile commute!  My £4000 a year to London which is 10 times the distance actually seems a bloody bargain compared with that!

Anyway - it has always been a family gag about the bus station.  They used to have to look the cost up in a book and then do a calculation manually on a calculator then write the ticket out by hand!  Recently i.e. in the summer they "improved" this.  Now they... look the price up in a table, do the calculation but then print the ticket on a ticket machine like the drivers have in the buses!  However they still have to write on the students name and the stops it is valid between!  (Dark ages really :-).  They then get a bit of company branded card and laminate it to that.  Brilliant.  When this new system came in my wife was told it was because the drivers wanted the tickets to all be the same style.

Since then my daughter has been challenged several times regarding the validity of her ticket.  On Tuesday morning finally one driver said "This ticket is a forgery you can't use it".  My daughter sighed and said - "Ok single to the school then" and bought a ticket.  "Can I have my bus pass back".  "No you will use it again it is a forgery".  My daughter was incensed - by now the whole bus is knowing something is up.  She states "That cost my Mum £98 you can't just take it off me".  He refused to return it.

My daughter in tears called my wife.  The driver refused to discuss the issue with my wife on the phone at the next bus stop.  My wife called the bus company - well a call centre located somewhere in the UK nowhere near us - to complain.   I called at 2pm to be told that the driver was "still on the road" - I very nearly wanted to quote HSE at them that given he took the ticket off my daughter at 7:20am I really hoped they seriously weren't suggesting he'd not had a break for the last 7 hours driving a bus with up to 70 people on board about!   My wife called again at 5pm to be told they had identified the driver but not spoken to him yet!

Next day we decided to leave it - no point in racking up expensive calls - it was one of those 0845 numbers which cost a blinking fortune from mobiles.  4pm my wife called - to be told that the following...   (The lady read it verbatim off the incident system)

"Driver took ticket as it was a forgery and Chatham bus station have dealt with it".

Even she was incredulous.  We'd had no phone call, no explanation.... nothing.   She noted my wife's anger and returned it to the duty manager of the area with an urgent flag. 

By now my position was that we'd never see the bloody ticket again and that either through incompetence or to cover tracks someone had conveniently "destroyed" it.  I was having fantasies of me having to go to court to get my £98 back!

Thursday - my wife gets a call in the afternoon at her place of work.  A very very apologetic man explained that the ticket had been confirmed as genuine, the driver spoken to and the ticket could be collected from... the place we originally flipping purchased it!  My wife went there straight after school with my daughter and it was "sheepishly" handed over by the counter staff, who made no comment and no apology either.

So we have the ticket back... for how long I wonder?  I still feel she will be challenged again and can't rule out the possibility of another confiscation as the drivers clearly have limited knowledge of their companies operating procedures.  God help them if they do - I think this time Mrs F will give chase along the route, board the bus and there will be the mother of all rows!

We are going to write a letter of formal complaint to the bus company firstly complaining strongly that they need to train their drivers better, that the way my daughter was treated was humiliating and degrading - she was in floods of tears and shaking with upset on arriving at the school, we want compensation for the additional tickets, phone calls and parking fees incurred and finally demand a written apology from the company and hopefully the driver himself to my daughter.   I don't hold out much hope - my ploy will be saying the letter is "open" and will go to the local press if they fail to act within 7 days.

This is all on the same theme as the other posts today - my daughter is a polite, hard working, diligent student.  She is on the brink of adulthood and at the point where she can put in the effort and sacrifices to study more, get a job, try to make a difference, pay her taxes, be a role model to others or she could... give up, treat people with disrespect, look to either live of the state, fiddle her taxes or fare dodge etc.

I hear many people crying out for the youth to show respect.  You know what?  Disrespect breads disrespect!  I see it daily - and sadly I have to say mostly by people in my generation or older - it is true the students and youngsters around me show polite respect most of the time the those around them.  Who the hell is at fault with the degeneration of our society.... I'm inclined myself to be on the side of the young currently.

1 comment:

  1. What a lot of Furtheron news. Most importantly, well done to your daughter for doing so well at school. You have every reason to be a proud parent. Lovely to hear.

    Hmmm, well. I have made my fair share of complaints. Not that I enjoy complaining in the slightest, but because various people who should know better have put me in dire circumstances because of their actions. I tend to get no where, however. We seem to have forgotten how to apologise. Who's at fault? Sadly, we are.