Passenger vs Customer

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Haig paxton

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So, we've all heard the words "here is a customer announcement" over the tannoy and on literature, posters and TOC propaganda. However where is the logic in this? I prefer the word passenger and there's nothing wrong with it. People who travel by train, bus, tram, plane or ferry are passengers. Yes, they give the railway their custom, this is not in dispute but the fact is using the word customer seems out of place in this context and folk probably don't buy the falsehood of its use by TOCs. Often documents are produced by TOCs that use both terms in the same sentence, it looks shabby and indecisive. Barry Doe of RAIL fame has been on about it for a while but none of the companies seem willing to drop the ridiculous customer tag; in fact Caledonian Sleeper now call their passengers "guests". Thoughts?
 
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sarahj

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Old hat, and we have been through this before, just note:

When your at a station, your a customer, when your on a train your a passenger.
 

Phil.

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When I'm at a ticket office - a ticket office not a bl**dy sales point - I'm a customer.
When I'm on a train I'm a person on passage - a passenger.
 

Harbornite

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Does it really matter? Who actually cares (apart from the OP etc)?
 

Via Bank

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So, we've all heard the words "here is a customer announcement" over the tannoy and on literature, posters and TOC propaganda. However where is the logic in this?

Why bother debating whether we should be saying 'passenger' or 'customer' when we can fix this by avoiding referring to passengers in the third person in announcements in the first place?

In virtually all cases where they say "here is a customer announcement," this could be replaced with "Attention, please!" or "Ladies and gentlemen…" or even "Good morning."

Eliminating the passive voice and adopting a more sensible conversational style in announcements would keep everyone happy, I think - and cut down on the amount of clutter in these announcements in the first place.
 

BuhSnarf

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They have to have a 'buffer' at the beginning of a message I believe to ensure people don't miss important information, I believe there's some optimum amount of time.

Isn't it to also differentiate between safety announcements which a customer will most likely ignore?

Sent from my LG-H815 using Tapatalk
 

cjmillsnun

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The use of Customers in announcements dates back to the sectorisation days of BR. It really is as old hat as it comes. I really doubt you're going to change it now.
 

Via Bank

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They have to have a 'buffer' at the beginning of a message I believe to ensure people don't miss important information, I believe there's some optimum amount of time.

Isn't it to also differentiate between safety announcements which a customer will most likely ignore?

Sent from my LG-H815 using Tapatalk

This is surely what announcement chimes are for. Or, prefixing it with "ladies and gentlemen" or "attention, please." No need for the "this is a customer announcement" tautology.

And surely you want people to listen to safety announcements, too? There's a way to do that: cut the waffle, address the customer directly, clearly, and quickly, and they're far less likely to switch off.

I genuinely do think that the way we surround our customer information with unnecessary extra words, overcomplicated jargon and niceties leads to a worse experience for the passenger. People usually want to enjoy their journey in peace, so they'll just switch off or stick headphones in (which means they may miss an important announcement later on.)
 

jamesst

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I think there's greater things to worry about to be honest. I can't even understand why people get upset over railway or train station.
 

hairyhandedfool

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So, we've all heard the words "here is a customer announcement" over the tannoy and on literature, posters and TOC propaganda. However where is the logic in this? I prefer the word passenger and there's nothing wrong with it..... Thoughts?

A year or so back, Northern Rail issued, to it's staff, a brief on new "tone of voice" guidelines, which, it is alleged, make us all "more approachable". Part of these guidelines was using 'customer' at all times because, apparently, a study has been done and this is deemed to be "more friendly" than using 'passenger'.
 

Haig paxton

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I heard the same announcement four times in under five minutes yesterday at Paisley Canal station, chimes followed by 'Here is a customer announcement: due to improvement works buses will replace trains on Sundays only between Xx and Xx on such and such dates'. Fair enough but it then went on to tell us " in the interests of safety and security customers are reminded to stay with their beloonging at all times... Blah destroyed, Blah BTP". Then "no smoking in any Scotrail station, this includes the use if electronic cigarettes" and finally "Scotrail thanks you for your co-operation"

It went on for too long, nobody seemed to be listening and there was so much waffle in there that could have been cut out. Who do they think they are fooling by calling routine engineering work "improvement works"? Nobody buys this bull. There has been a smoking ban in Scotland for a decade and there are notices everywhere, those hell bent on smoking are still going to do it. Additionally health and safety can't have 'interests' because they're not living things, this should be rephrased as 'for health and safety reasons', if used at all. Whoever is writing these messages needs lessons in basic English.
 

GB

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Why can't you be both and why does it have to be mutually exclusive?

So much more to worry about on the railway (and in life) than what a group of people call another.
 

Clip

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I heard the same announcement four times in under five minutes yesterday at Paisley Canal station, chimes followed by 'Here is a customer announcement: due to improvement works buses will replace trains on Sundays only between Xx and Xx on such and such dates'. Fair enough but it then went on to tell us " in the interests of safety and security customers are reminded to stay with their beloonging at all times... Blah destroyed, Blah BTP". Then "no smoking in any Scotrail station, this includes the use if electronic cigarettes" and finally "Scotrail thanks you for your co-operation"

It went on for too long, nobody seemed to be listening and there was so much waffle in there that could have been cut out. Who do they think they are fooling by calling routine engineering work "improvement works"? Nobody buys this bull. There has been a smoking ban in Scotland for a decade and there are notices everywhere, those hell bent on smoking are still going to do it. Additionally health and safety can't have 'interests' because they're not living things, this should be rephrased as 'for health and safety reasons', if used at all. Whoever is writing these messages needs lessons in basic English.

Long messages you do have a point but thats for a different discussion rather than one of passenger vs customer.

There may well have eben a smoking ban in for over a decade but up until about a year or so ago you could always smoke on the end of open platforms so they have to educate people more about that. Both passengers and customers.
 

Taunton

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I genuinely do think that the way we surround our customer information with unnecessary extra words, overcomplicated jargon and niceties leads to a worse experience for the passenger.
Scene at Woking a little while ago. Gross disorganisation (not unusual), indicators blank, large numbers on the platforms waiting for whatever was going to happen.

Then the PA booms out "May I have your attention please, this is a customer announcement ...".

Everyone goes quiet to listen for the information.

"... please keep your luggage with you at ALL times ...".

:roll:
 

al78

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Scene at Woking a little while ago. Gross disorganisation (not unusual), indicators blank, large numbers on the platforms waiting for whatever was going to happen.

Then the PA booms out "May I have your attention please, this is a customer announcement ...".

Everyone goes quiet to listen for the information.

"... please keep your luggage with you at ALL times ...".

:roll:

Does that mean that someone has to take their suitcases with them when they want to use the toilet? Could be rather tight for space, especially given the amount of luggage some passengers have. I don't think my full size bicycle would fit in even the large disabled toilet, I've certainly no desire to attempt it.
 

PHILIPE

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I've noticed a recent increase of posters on the Forum using "customers" instead of "passengers".
What I object to is the changing of everyday commonplace language just for the sake of it to try and create an image. There are some instances when the word "customers" just doesn't sound right.
 

tom1649

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Airlines generally refer to "passengers" still don't they? Why are railways any different?
 

Western Lord

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Cinemas used to have patrons until someone decided that was patronising and started referring to customers instead (the someone was the MD of Odeon Cinemas in the late 1980's). At least he didn't go for "guests".
 

Haig paxton

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I really, really, really could not care less.

So don't contribute then and leave the discussion with those who are interested. I couldn't care less about babies being born on Southeastern but you don't see me complaining about it.
 

EM2

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So don't contribute then and leave the discussion with those who are interested. I couldn't care less about babies being born on Southeastern but you don't see me complaining about it.
The last word of your original posting was 'Thoughts?'.
That is my thought on the matter. It impacts on me, when travelling, not one iota.
 

Greenback

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Is everyone on a station, especially a major station, a passenger on the railway? Could there be some that are only there as a customer of a shop, bar, eating place or some other service? (I know there are people who go to Reading station to get an ice cream for example)

Should the terminology be customers on stations and passengers on trains?

Those are my thoughts. All questions!
 

Calthrop

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I think there's greater things to worry about to be honest. I can't even understand why people get upset over railway or train station.

It appears to me over this general issue -- and the disagreement throughout this thread, "does it matter or nor?" -- that it depends what way you happen to be made: for some people, language use is a hot button; for others, it isn't.

I recently visited Northern Ireland, where "Translink" makes a good deal of official use of the expression "Train Station". The friend with whom I was travelling is a big-time English-language purist and pedant, who harbours a furious hatred of "train station": I really feared that he was going to have a heart attack over seeing that wording used officially. I'm much more in the camp of "so what? It neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket".
 

AM9

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Airlines generally refer to "passengers" still don't they? Why are railways any different?

ISTR the term 'customer' emerged around 1990 'ish when the then Conservative government was preparing us for privatisation. It seemed to give the message that we were purchasing something (as in from a commercial company) rather than using a service. Ironically, at the same time the term customer was being used in NHS hospitals instead of patients, - the parallel being the creeping privatisation that atrted about then. Fortunately it didn't stick there as I can't imagine anything more offensive than referring to sick people as customers!
 

Senex

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ISTR the term 'customer' emerged around 1990 'ish when the then Conservative government was preparing us for privatisation. It seemed to give the message that we were purchasing something (as in from a commercial company) rather than using a service. Ironically, at the same time the term customer was being used in NHS hospitals instead of patients, - the parallel being the creeping privatisation that atrted about then. Fortunately it didn't stick there as I can't imagine anything more offensive than referring to sick people as customers!
I thought the idea at the time was to suggest that the user of the services actually had some rights as a customer (compare rights under Sale of Goods legislation, for instance, when you buy products) and wasn't just stuck with whatever the provider chose to offer, which was very much the case with both the railways and the NHS.

In pure choice-of-words terms I personally still prefer "passenger" and "patient" -- the latter being particularly apt with its connotation both of suffering and of waiting!
 

yorksrob

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Is everyone on a station, especially a major station, a passenger on the railway? Could there be some that are only there as a customer of a shop, bar, eating place or some other service? (I know there are people who go to Reading station to get an ice cream for example)

Should the terminology be customers on stations and passengers on trains?

Those are my thoughts. All questions!

That's a good distinction. Customers could include people using station facilities, parcels and freight facilities and those actually travelling on the train. Passengers are just those travelling on the train.
 

Johnuk123

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I heard a headmistress on tv last month refer to her school children as her client base.
Personally why does it matter what rail travelers are called ?
 
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I heard a headmistress on tv last month refer to her school children as her client base.
Personally why does it matter what rail travelers are called ?

The English language is a marvellous thing with many many words available to appropriately describe a multitude of things. To lazily describe a rail passenger as a customer is accurate in respect of people having purchased a service. It in no way describes the type of service that has been purchased however. When you buy a chocolate bar in a newsagents you are also a customer. So it's more helpful/accurate to refer to people travelling on trains as passengers.
That's why it matters, in a small way.

As to the headmistress, I trust she was being facetious. That, or being a numpty.
 
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