Daily Archives: June 21, 2009

National Express – The Worst Train Service In The World

I am finally back in the UK! I shall be arriving in Norwich tomorrow for the by-election.

Meantime I am dashing up to York with Emily today. This means dealing again with National Express – undoubtedly the worst train service in the world.

Last night around 21.30 I went online on the National Express website to purchase the train tickets. All went well on the website, until I reached payment. Then I received the following message.

“Delivery method not available. Collection on departure not available due to essential maintenance. Please purchase ticket at station.”

There was nothing I could do as telephone support stops at 20.00.

Today, entirely predictably, the same tickets are £172 more expensive. I telephoned the “Ticket purchase web support” number, and was told they could find me tickets only £80 more expensive, on a luselessly later train. Being a persevering fellow I asked to speak to a manager, who insultingly told me he had never heard of the message I had received on the website. He did not call me a liar outright, but plainly implied it. He suggested that I buy the full price tickets and then write to a PO Box number in Newcastle for a “Full investigation.”

I really don’t know why we put up with the ludicrous prices charged for on the day train tickets – generally much higher than the air fare. But if companies are going to insist that people book in advance to get cheaper fares – which are still extremely high by international standards – the least they can do is make sure their advance purchase systems work. A particularly annoying aspect of this is that I am registered on the National Express website, and was logged in when I tried to make the purchase, so they ought to be able to have a record of what happened, even if they don’t record when their own site is under maintenance.

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