Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Intelligence on public transportation

I ride the Long Island Rail Road to and from work. I've been doing this since 1991 so I consider myself somewhat of a veteran but something happened tonight that amazed even me. I was taking the 7:11 train home, went down to the track at Penn Station at 7:10, and found the train doors closed and the train pulling away. I was dumbfounded. The train left early. I looked around and while the train was pulling away I took this picture of the train and the clock.Since I now had time to kill while I waited for the next train that was scheduled to leave at 7:44, I found the customer service office to complain that the train left early. I expected no satisfaction beyond venting a bit but the conversation went like this between me and two of the crack LIRR customer service staff:

Me: I wanted to take the 7:11 but the train doors were closed and the train left at 7:10
LIRR: Maybe your watch was wrong.
Me: No, this was based on the clock on the platform.
LIRR: Are you sure?
Me: Yes, I have a picture of the train leaving and the clock showing 7:11.
LIRR: Well, you know the clock might be wrong.
Me: If the clock is wrong, shouldn't someone fix it?
LIRR: The train leaves when the dispatcher tells it to leave. It really doesn't matter what the clock says.
Me: Huh?
LIRR: Dispatching trains is very complicated. They have a large console room and the time in their command center may be different than the time on the platform.
Me: Again, why would there be a different time? Should your clocks tell the same time?
LIRR: They are allowed to tell the train to leave before the time it is scheduled to leave by up to three minutes. We are sorry you missed the train but you should get there earlier.
Me (realizing that I was dealing with morons): Is there an email address that I can complain to?
LIRR: No. There is a phone number that you can call tomorrow. Why would you want to email anyone?
Me: To send them a copy of the picture of the clock and the train leaving.
LIRR: Well you could call them and ask if they have an email address. They might.

Who says customer service is a lost art?


KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

When there are too many hands in the pot, it is so hard to hold anyone accountable because they all pass the buck AND they know it doesn't matter b/c the chances of you tracking down someone who actually gives a crap is probably nil and they know that. A-holes! I hope you do find the appropriate channel to forward the picture and time to. Maybe there is a logical explanation.

Big Clyde said...

It is a sad trend in America...no one wants to apologize anymore.

Remember the story last year about the police officer, the professor and the President? At least one of them, if not all three of them, made mistakes in judgement. But not one of them apologized! To trivialize it, they "met for beers" (and let the v.p. come)...but not one of them apologized. Amazing.

chris mcpeake said...

Hey you got it much better then us. Up here in Toronto our mayor insists that we have one of the best systems in the world. We still use tokens here for god sakes ... TOKENS!!

I run home everyday just to avoid having to deal with the TTC and easily make it home faster then the subway.

If I had to lodge a complain I would have to wake up the booth attendant. (just google search Toronto and sleeping ttc worker to see what I am talking about)..

Still no excuse for your crappy service to.

Ewa said...

Is there 'to be continued'? Did you call?
I can't wait to hear how many menu options you had to go through and how many times you heard that 'your call is important to us, please hold', or 'all our representatives (one guy in India) are helping other customers'.
Of course why would you want to call. It is not like anybody is treating complaints seriously. Gone are the days of small businesses who had to value every customer.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

OK that sucked, but, sorry, I had to laugh at the conversation

Carly said...

Gahh!!!!!!!!!!!! How did you not scream. I hate dealing with customer service in all areas.

Heather said...

So......the departure time was more like a vague idea? This reminds me of Seinfield and his car rental problems.

JAllgood said...

It's the Twilight Train Zone!!
And the customer service just confirmed it!

Al's CL Reviews said...

I was stuck on the fact there was public transportation and it actually took you some place you want (need) to go.

Maybe I can get a job at CS. Seems you need a lot of skill.

The un-Zen Runner said...

And that person at the desk was probably who answered the customer service phone number...haha. Why couldn't they just admit that the dispatcher made a mistake? Weird.