Yesterday the expected snow hit the London area. We knew it was coming yet Southeastern trains capitulated like the Information Commissioner’s Office. Whenever the weather plays up the usual friendly greeting tends to be a shuttered ticket office and no announcements. I wasn’t surprised to see that yesterday morning. Getting home was a nightmare mainly because of the complete lack of coherent information from Southeastern.
When the weather plays up I don’t mind the odd delay. When there’s no information coming from the train operators and a complete lack of customer care that’s when there’s something very wrong going on.
When I eventually got back home I logged on to Twitter and watched the #Southeastern hashtag unfold. I’d been one of the fortunate ones. I e-mailed Caroline Pidgeon, the Vice Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee. Here’s an extract from that e-mail:
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The BBC reports comments made by Sir Terry Leahy, Chief Executive of Tesco at the Institute of Grocery Distribution’s annual conference in which he says
“As the largest private employer in the country, we depend on high standards in our schools,”
“Sadly, despite all the money that has been spent, standards are still woefully low in too many schools,”
“Employers like us, and I suspect many of you, are often left to pick up the pieces.
“From my perspective there are too many agencies and bodies, often issuing reams of instructions to teachers, who then get distracted from the task at hand: teaching children.”
I hope that Sir Terry isn’t trying to blame the appalling treatment my partner received at a branch of Tesco (which, by the way means that we will never again shop at a Tesco store) on school standards. Poor service isn’t because of poor school standards, it’s because of poor training on your part. It’s a Tesco uniform that person was wearing. It was Tesco who approved their presence on the shop floor.
Sir Terry’s final point is quite right and one I see first hand almost every day. Some schools and local authorities have an obsession with paperwork, external consultants, change for the sake of change and half baked fad of the week initiatives rather than concentrating on getting the basics right.
What I have seen is that teachers aren’t just distracted from the task of teaching children, they are railroaded into half witted schemes by incompetent management who care nothing for the school or the students. Instead of managing the students and their problems, management are concerned only with achieving exam results with as little provision as possible. Teachers’ morale plummets further as a result, the troublemaking elements in the school (from management and students) pick up on that and then people wonder why standards are seen as being low?
Perhaps Sir Terry could use some of his influence to get Ed Balls and Gordon Brown to get in touch with me and arrange a session where each of them is left in a real classroom with some real year 10 or year 11 students. As a former Chancellor of the Exchequer I’m sure Mr Brown is ideally qualified to teach a year 11 maths class. In fact I know just the class for him. While Mr Brown is teaching the year 11s, I’m sure there are a number of teachers who wish to challenge Mr Balls on his views and policies.
What about it Gordon?
If you treat your customers like retards they won’t come back.
We won’t. Ever.
One employee with a very poor attitude has cost you our custom. For good.
It’s been six months or so since Royal Mail last fouled up so I guess I was due one. However, this one was a considerably more serious foul up which warranted a formal complaint. Recently MFL had cause to order something of a personal nature from someone of whom I am already a customer. Neither of us had a problem with the package being sent out in my name. We know and trust the company concerned.
Returning from a short trip out I noticed a package on one side of our doorstep. Despite being clearly marked “PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL” in red lettering AND being a recorded delivery package for which a signature was required, the package had been left on the doorstep.
A visit to the Royal Mail website showed that one cannot actually submit a complaint via their website. It isn’t rocket science to have a form to complete. But no, to submit a complaint in writing you have to send a letter. Or phone Royal Mail. So once again I phoned Royal Mail. Their answering system is still the same, saying you can do almost anything Royal Mail related from their website. Except complain.
Eventually (12 minutes, better than BT, Virgin Media, HP and Dell in my considerable experience) I got through to an operative who was apologetic that correct procedure had not been followed. Surely when something says “Private & Confidential” that means there is personal information inside and the letter needs to be handled with due care and attention? When the sender has paid for a signature from the recipient surely the post person should ensure that obligation is fulfilled and obtain the signature?
Oddly I was asked for my phone number. Given that they already have my address from the recorded delivery number I had given I was not sure why this was needed. I’m still not sure. I was given a complaint reference number but when I asked if I would receive an update from the Delivery Office responsible I was told that I would not.
So I will not get to know how this private and confidential package requiring recipient’s signature came to find itself on my doorstep. I will not get to know whether or not action has been taken to ensure such an incident does not happen again. That isn’t transparency and a commitment to improving customer service.
Royal Mail fail again.