For those of you who are not familiar with the name Tom Wrigglesworth, this is an interesting little tale that first goes back to 2008, when Tom, an up and coming Yorkshire comedian, got on a Virgin train from Manchester to London Euston and sat opposite an elderly grandmother called Lena.
As the ticket inspector came round, he noticed that Lenas’ ticket was on off-peak ticket and that she had boarded the train half an hour early and as she was now on a peak time train, she would have to pay the full fare, which was over ten times the amount she had already paid.
The gallant Mr. Wrigglesworth, who just happened to be sat opposite and watching this mini drama unfold, decided that he was going to act.
He was unhappy that this elderly lady was being charged ten fold, when she had already been informed by Virgin staff at Manchester just to get on the train as “it would be alright”, so he decided to get a brown buffet bag and go up and down the carriage and have a whip round from all the passengers in the carriage, who gave willingly (indeed one dropped in £30) and in no time the money was collected in full.
So job done you would think? – Lena can stay on the train, Virgin have been paid in full and all the passengers on the train have a rosy glow that they’ve all contributed and done their good deed for the day – well apparently not !! The ticket inspector took offence and rang ahead to Euston and two burly British Transport policemen were waiting for Tom on
the platform to arrest him for begging !!
Fortunately, other passengers rallied round and explained what had really happened and happily the BT Police were dissuaded from taking any further action.
Tom, rightly feeling very hard done by, decided to take this further, lobbied hard and after incorporating it into his act, tour and a stint at the Edinburgh Festival with “An Open Return Letter to Richard Branson”, Virgin moved to change their policy and now anyone travelling with Virgin on an off peak train who hasn’t got a ticket, will only pay an off peak price. The other rail companies have not followed suit and he is still lobbying and aims to deliver a petition this summer to try to get them to change their policy as well.
So what’s the moral of the story? – well for me it means that if we want the kind of service that we want, then we have to demand it – we don’t sit back and just accept what we’re given.
Often been said that the curse of the British is not having the spine to say what they mean, when they are on the end of poor service, it’s the “we just won’t come back again” syndrome, “we’ll turn a blind eye”, “lets not make a fuss” – Poor meal, badly served, overpriced rubbish and the waiter approaches “everything alright Sir?”
“Yes lovely thanks!!” it is apathetic and pathetic and we end up with the service we deserve.
Good employers and good businesses want their customers’ feedback, it is hard currency to them, it is alchemy, it is so valuable, so don’t let them down – do right by them and do right by the rest of us as well and hey, when you see great service, smiles and warmth, don’t forget to yell about that too !!