For anyone of a rightward leaning perspective who believes with unwavering conviction that the private sector is always better than the public, responds to customer demands and offers better quality service, a quick call to Virgin Trains will dispel all these myths.
Here’s the scenario. I want to book a train for Mrs Penguin to go to London for the weekend. This little adventure took place on Wednesday. I wanted to send her off on Thursday and to come back on Sunday so that she could have a well earned break away for a few days, see some old friends and have a bit of fun without worrying about such things as nappies and feeds and all the other mundane daily activities that revolve around looking after Little Penguin.
Not hard one would think to book a train ticket for the following day. I started off on their website that, erm, didn’t work, it was down. OK, it happens to us all from time to time so off to the telephone booking service. The premise is simple, book ticket with my card for Mrs Penguin to pick up tickets at the station the following day.
On to the phoneline, which rather wonderfully starts with an automated service. I personally don’t mind automated services that much, the ones that give you options to press buttons one, two or three but I have an absolute hatred of those voice operated ones because, they are simply crap. After not being understood for a few minutes I get passed to a human being. Sadly this human being seems to have even less a command of the English language than the automated service and insists on repeating back to me exactly what I’ve said and confirming every aspect of the booking three times before we proceed to the next part.
Getting through this was a bit of a job in itself but we get to the last part about paying by card. Is it me taking the journey? No, I’m booking it for someone else, I want them to pick the tickets up at the machine in the train station. Sadly though this isn’t possible, it’s my card and you need the exact card the tickets were booked on to retrieve the tickets on top of the code number they give you. Now strangely enough I couldn’t do without my card for four days as it might come in handy for such things as getting money from a cashpoint so this wasn’t an option. The only other option would be to have the tickets sent but even the special delivery option they have costs