Normally I refrain from profanity. I’ll make an exception today – I’m pretty sure my audience is 100% adult. And I’ll offer a confession while I’m at it. My name is Gary, and I’m a bus wanker. I have been since I sold my motorbike last June in (ahem…) preparation for the move to Mexico. The local bus company runs a pretty extensive network and if you get their credit card type Key cards for about £60 a month, you get unlimited travel on the whole network. So I swapped my bike for a bus.
I got myself a Key card and topped up with a three month pass and off I went. Generally the service is ok. The buses are new and comfortable and they run regularly enough. But I have had complaints before now. The drivers can be such a miserable, and sometimes outright rude, bunch of so and so’s. There are some good ones, but too many feel they are doing you a favour when they let you on. A smile and greeting isn’t something they excel at. There are other cons to travelling with Wilts and Dorset. The buses don’t always bother stopping for a start. And their customer service department is…well, not very good at customer service. It’s 50/50 if they’ll even respond to your email.
But this last week I have fallen foul of the most appalling levels of customer service. Where do we even start? The story begins just over a week ago. I finished work at 5pm and headed out the front door of the office. A double decker bus was pulling up at the bus stop. Only one double decker stops there – my bus, the X3. I ran and jumped on it, swiping my card. I was expecting Mrs P to be on the bus. She wasn’t. I looked around, and saw another double decker go past and stop in front. That was my bus. What the hell sort of a bus had I got on? It turned out that I’d got on the X2. They are being temporarily diverted past my office.
I jumped off the wrong bus and made it to the right bus, just in time. I swiped on. But the light turned red, not green. The driver told me my card had been hotlisted and he was retaining it. Further, as I had no cash on me to pay for a ticket, I had to get off. In true Wilts and Dorset style, he couldn’t have been more unhelpful and miserable. Mrs P was on this bus, but she got off with me. I drew cash out of a nearby ATM, waited for the next bus and bought a one week pass.
So I got in touch with Wilts and Dorset by email, to ask why my card had been retained and what would they do about it. They replied, just one day later – miracles do happen! I was told that by jumping on two buses in quick succession I had triggered the system into believing I had passed my card to someone else to use. Ok, all systems have security procedures. Annoying, and unnecessary though – I did have photo ID on me.
But anyway, what would they do about it? I was told it would be investigated and I’d be sent my card back in a couple of days. I wasn’t contacted and to date my complaint has not had a formal response. About 8 days later, having spent a further £15 on tickets and several more emails chasing it up, I finally got a replacement card. But things should work out now, or so I thought. After all, in the FAQ of their website, they do promise…if a mistake has been made and you have had to pay for travel when your key was valid for travel we will offer you a no quibble refund and a complimentary day’s travel on your key. That’s pretty straight forward then. A mistake was made. I had not passed back or misued my card in any way, and my card does entitle me to unlimited travel on the entire network. Except, I then got this email….
I am very sorry that it has taken so long to sort this out. We have not received your card back so I am now issuing you a new one which I will send out by first class post this evening. We are unable to refund your £24 but as a goodwill gesture I have added one extra week to your card.
During the eight days I was unable to use the card for travel that I had already paid for, I had to pay £38.20 and sit around for an extra half hour for another bus. But, as a gesture of goodwill, they are going to give me £14.39 worth of extra travel. The idea that the extra week’s worth of travel is a gesture of goodwill is actually insulting. I’d rather have the full refund, thanks very much. Technically speaking, according to their website, I should have been given 8 days complimentary travel anyway.
Here’s how I read their responses so far. Not only do spotty teenage nerds think that people who travel on public transport are bus wankers, but Wilts and Dorset also think along those lines. I’m certainly not going to leave it at that though. I will demand a formal response to my complaint. I will demand a full refund. And if they don’t come up with those, then there is an overseeing body to complain to.
Beyond that, my bus actually stops at the local County Courts. I used to sue people for debts there as part of my job. I can do one more, for old times sakes. I’ll let you know how it goes. Indeed, I’ll let as many people as possible across various social media platforms, know exactly how it goes. Wilts and Dorset will find that I am one bus wanker who’s no soft touch…