Virgin Ticket Office Exchanges

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by 47271, 6 Dec 2018 at 00:28.

  1. 47271

    47271 Established Member

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    I got a bit of a surprise today. I've tried to find an existing thread on this, but there isn't one, which makes me think I've just been given twaddle.

    I want to change an advance bought on Virgin's own website. I took it to a Virgin ticket office, expecting to pay the difference plus the £10 fee. I've done it twice in the past month, at Edinburgh as it happens, and both times changing Virgin advances bought on the Virgin website.

    I was informed elsewhere (I won't name the location) that Virgin has a new booking system and can't do it any more. I said, 'but an LNER office changed one of your tickets for me last week'. The answer was that LNER's still on an 'old system' and Virgin's 'new system' won't do it. I struggled to keep a straight face and said that I'd take the ticket they sold to me but can't change for me to another operator to have after sales performed.

    Is this right does anyone know, it sounded very odd to me?
     
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  3. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    One of two things is happening. Either Virgin is using new software that can't produce common excesses, or it can and the staff just don't know how to do it.

    Whichever it is, hopefully it will be sorted out soon as it's a service customers have a right to.
     
  4. Wallsendmag

    Wallsendmag Established Member

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    Correct on both counts.
     
  5. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    Having trained and supervised people in several non-railway service industries I am afraid that any staff training comes up against a basic block. There are a significant minority of, often quite intellegent, people who simply cannot cope with looking things up in a manual. They learn how to deal with a range of scenarios by rote but training can never cover every case and if there is nobody to ask then they are stuck.
     
  6. Flying Snail

    Flying Snail Member

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    I was given the same excuse from a VT ticket office when they were unable to book a sleeper berth.

    Normally I would just put this down to the all too predictable ticket office staff incompetence. Two other TOC offices also failed to book this ticket, it was only when the 3rd turned the screen around that I was able to direct them to the correct procedure I got the correct ticket.

    In the case of Virgin there may be some truth to the excuse as they have replaced their PCs with crappy tablets so it is not beyond belief that their new system is less able to process more complex tasks than the previous one.
     
  7. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I'd suggest, then, that those people should be weeded out via the recruitment process, and if they aren't, then the recruitment process is faulty. I thought (and I know someone who did apply for a ticket office job who said so) that looking stuff up in a manual *was* actually part of it.

    Having said that, producing software that can guide people to it is hardly the proverbial rocket science. The ATOS "Mixing Deck" UI would seem to be a very good setup for ticket office use to me, for instance.
     
  8. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Pretty much - people naturally have different tolerances to learning and carrying out research. Some will consult manuals and official sources for guidance. Others will defer to whoever they consider to be a subject matter expert and will struggle if none are available.

    The railways do not test for the ability to autonomously read and understand instructions when recruiting for ticket office clerks. This is why the quality of service offered in ticket offices is so variable, to the point you get people serving who can't work out how to sell a point to point ticket without assistance from a third party.

    I recall when I attended London Midland's ticket seller training school. The gentleman they brought in to teach us was very good. As he showed us The Manual, he made the point that it is important to have product knowledge - and just as important to know how to find out the things that you don't yet know. I 100% agree with him, but being able to do that kind of research is actually a skill which is necessary to do the job well. Those who can't do that end up winding up customers by turning them away when they make reasonable requests.

    If the software can't do excesses, surely a fare override should be done and if the accountants have an issue with it, they should be redirected to the IT department so they can get the software sorted out.
     
  9. route101

    route101 Established Member

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    There was a notice at Glasgow Central VT ticket office that they are no longer issuing tickets for the sleeper.
     
  10. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Are they not required to do so as part of impartial retailing?
     
  11. CyrusWuff

    CyrusWuff Established Member

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    That depends who the "Lead Retailer" is...Though there's no question that VT is the Lead Retailer at Euston.

    I can't remember where it was, but I saw a briefing before they introduced their new Ticket Issuing System stating they'd no longer be able to retail Sleeper tickets after the switch. Though with Serco having performed "odd" changes to the product definitions for the Caledonian Sleeper, at least one Desktop TIS produced blank (but correctly encoded) tickets when attempting to issue same, though this has since been rectified.
     
  12. 47271

    47271 Established Member

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    Just an update - I've been to another operator's station and they made the exchange within three minutes. There was a bit of eye rolling when I told the assistant what had happened.

    I'm going to raise it with Virgin and I'll report the response.

    If anyone from Virgin is reading this, maybe you'd like to explain whether it's a software issue or a staff competence concern?
     
  13. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Ah, I think that'd be ScotRail at GLC - but that said, traditionally in Scottish stations the ScotRail ticket office didn't do tickets for outside Scotland, it'd be the English TOC that would handle those, almost like having a separate "International" ticket office at many European stations.
     
  14. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Whichever of the two it is, it's something that can be attributed squarely to Virgin!
     
  15. Wallsendmag

    Wallsendmag Established Member

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    But Virgin WC is a 49% Scottish TOC
     
  16. 47271

    47271 Established Member

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    It was a Scotrail office that changed the ticket for me.
     
  17. Skie

    Skie Member

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    Virgin are a law unto themselves when it comes to Excesses, there have been a few posts over the past couple of months. Basically they don't want their staff to issue an excess, they would rather do a refund (or get you to get a refund from the ticket issuer) and then sell you the full ticket. I could be uncharitable and say it's because they want all of the revenue for themselves, but it's almost Christmas so I'll just say the cynic in me thinks that is probably why they are doing it :)
     
  18. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    By ownership, but not by operation. It's no more Scottish than Greyhound buses in the US are in practice (being owned by First).
     
  19. 47271

    47271 Established Member

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    I can easily see that that might be the case, but I wasn't offered that as an alternative - I was just told to go to another operator's office!

    The other thing is that two days went by before I had the time to do that, I've got plenty of other things to do as well as work round Virgin's nonsense, so I'm pretty certain that the cost of the new ticket had increased - so I've wasted money as well as time.
     
  20. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    And the view the railways will take is that if you are asking for something their staff don't know how to do, you must be the problem - they won't acknowledge that they should know how to perform basic clerical functions, which excesses are.

    Unfortunately from a pragmatic perspective, it might well be the case you have to return when somebody else is on shift, try somewhere else or ask a friendly, helpful guard. It sucks especially if you're not somewhere with a dense rail network, but it's the best that can be offered :(
     
    Last edited: 8 Dec 2018 at 18:12
  21. Andy25

    Andy25 Member

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    I changed a ticket this week with Virgin staff at the gate in Euston.

    Had an off peak ticket but got delayed, next train was in the peak window and didn't fancy waiting 4 hours for it to become valid again. It cost me £120 (or least it cost my work) but they did it on an iPad there and then without having to go to the main ticket hall.

    I would note though that the virgin staff seemed to have to type in some sort of short code to find a list of available fairs to charge me. The lady seemed to struggle with what code to search and her colleague had to come over and help her guess what it might be.
     
  22. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    How were you delayed - through making your own way to Euston, or by a previous rail connection?
     
  23. Andy25

    Andy25 Member

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    Sorry, meant I was getting a train from Euston going back to Preston. I had booked an off peak returnticket but a meeting I was in ran over and I missed the last off peak train.

    The next train was obviously a peak time train so had to upgrade to a peak time ticket to get the next train 15:32 I think it was.

    Didn't ask why I was upgrading.
     
  24. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Ah, was just checking, as it wasn't clear whether or not you had been delayed by an earlier train, in which case it would have been wrong for you to have been charged the excess.
     

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