Category: experiences

Translink NI – How not to do trains, or customer service

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Second day travelling on a new job, scheduled to arrive in plenty of time. Cue Translink, with their mysterious ‘signalling problems’ to make a rainy morning even worse. I honestly received the most unprofessional service possible today by Translink. You need to do so much better.

Bus whooshSo I was standing at Adelaide train station trying to reach Central Station, and got to the station with my housemate Nicky Young at 0815 this morning. The train was due to arrive at 0824, although, as I arrived at the station I heard the other platform (to Portadown direction) had a delay via the tannoy. I anticipated a delay given the conditions, but sure, I’d left plenty of time to arrive at Central by 0915, when I was due to start the day’s work.

I hear an announcement on our line – a delay of 8 minutes. No sweat, sure I’m getting a bit damp, but I’ve got loads of time. I even expected Translink’s usual dirty trick – rolling delay a service until the next one is due. They use this frequently to avoid logging a cancelled service, which impacts on their performance reviews. So, me and Nicky wait… and wait… only to have first one (about 0830), then two (about 0840), then a third train (0855) pass straight through Adelaide. One even teased by slowing a bit, then going through anyway. Thanks to this and my feeling that the first one might have whooshed on through because it was full, I noticed clearly that at least the latter two of these trains had free seats.

All under the guise of ‘signalling problems’. Translink announced NO cancellation over the tannoy, only rolling delays. They seemingly just – excuse the phrase – threw the 30 or so passengers at Adelaide station under the bus for the sake of getting the already late others to Great Victoria Street a minute faster. We were all there, waiting, ready each time we heard a train, hoping one would stop. But sure, it’s ok, most of us are week ticket holders, Translink already have our money. Yup, we all paid money for a service – then didn’t get it. That’s failure to deliver on a contract right there, ladies and gentlemen. Yet, their reimbursement policy makes it pointless to pursue such a reimbursement.

Bad ServiceSo the service at the station by the trains, and by whoever made those decisions to skip the stops, is not only totally unprofessional, but it gets worse. I’m never one to let bad service go unheard – I stand up to at least try to make things better in future. So, when I phoned up (after giving up waiting and having to book a taxi instead at my own expense; I should get to claim this back too, Translink) to complain, I got a woman on the phone, and despite merely politely trying to ask why no train had stopped, got the excuse of signal problems. I countered by saying that three trains had passed by, none of which stopped. She seemed surprised,putting me back on hold to ‘check’. I honestly think this poor woman was not aware of this decision. However, when I tried to reply saying that this was unacceptable, she rudely cut me off mid-sentence to put me through to so-called ‘customer services’. Well, you need to do some more training here too – I was put through to a man who I openly told I knew it wasn’t his fault. I said I would like to register a complaint and he took a few details (Matthew Leebody by the way – I hope it’s logged and I hope recorded).

Yet, in response to my criticism, he questioned me on whether I was SURE that I’d seen free seats on the train. I was. He went on to tell me that neither he nor I really knew what decisions were getting made in the best interests of everyone, and unless I had experience working in the railway system I couldn’t really criticise! The fact I am a paying customer apparently means squat – the almighty train conductor gods work in mysterious ways, and are above the will of us mere mortals to comprehend! I mean, I’m sure they were, but really, this is not the way to address a customer! The lack of knowledge in customer service is baffling. I don’t believe the staff are appropriately trained. Instead of making the customer feel important, I was simply told that I was incapable of understanding the problems. I was told the trains must have been full despite my eyes. I was told that the signal problems weren’t the cause of the rain.

Well then, I ask, why did they fail? Why do Translink have no backup for crucial signalling systems failing during the rush hours? Why did the trains fail to stop at Adelaide for approximately an hour today? These questions still remain unanswered. And I remain out of pocket to the tune of £5.23 (My £7.30 week ticket, divided by the 10 journeys, is £0.73, and my share of the £9.00 taxi is £4.50). I will accept a cheque anytime, Translink.

When I went husky trekking, with Bessy Bell Husky Trekkers

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Huskies!

Recently, as part of my 25th birthday present, my wonderful boyfriend arranged for us to do something really different – Husky Trekking! He found an organisation called ‘Bessy Bell Husky Trekkers‘ that advertise the experience in Northern Ireland. He found it originally through Groupon.

 

Now, husky trekking isn’t exactly the first thing you think of in Northern Ireland. Believe me, I thought the same – “Don’t you need snow?” I thought. NUH-UH! It may often be cold and shitty in Northern Ireland, but we don’t get nearly enough snow to make snow sledding possible. The alternative? Scooters!

Matt controls his husky
They may be RIDICULOUSLY cute, but they are very strong dogs! Though, to pull my weight, they’d have to be 😐 (Pic taken by James)

Yeah, it’s a big wheeled scooter, and a dirt / gravel track. Think your typical country lane, more used to tractors than cars, and that’s essentially the idea. It was an incredibly picturesque environment, with rolling hills, forests, puffy clouds, valleys and even wind turbines (which personally I think look rather nice despite what others may think).

Vanishing Point - Our route to the forest
Vanishing Point – Our route to the forest winds into the distance. It was a great day for it!

You can see what I mean, and as you can imagine, it doesn’t make for a smooth ride! You are teamed with two dogs each, and basically the dogs are well trained to run! They were SUPPOSED to respond to commands… but mine didn’t seem to!
I took the lead with my two dogs, Sasha and Hank, a beautiful mother and son combo! James followed with Jack Leaper and Starsky, the instructor followed with Monty (he was strong enough to pull her alone!) and we were off – down the track and winding into the forest. Surprisingly, the take-off was relatively easy, I’d expected from the instructor’s comments to get a real jolt as they started. After a few seconds of gathering my balance, the trekking was a go in earnest. You DO have a brake in the scooter, for if the dogs either get a bit too fast or they slow down and you begin to gain on them (wouldn’t want those ropes tangled!)

Sasha and Hank
Sasha and Hank

The route was nice, a good few kilometres if I recall. Some great bits of speedy downhill action – where I went rolling right into a big puddle the dogs stopped in! And of course, there were some uphill segments where the dogs needed a hand, queue me and James swiping furiously at the ground to get some speed up; a good enough workout for us let alone the dogs!

It was a fantastic day out, the only criticism being it was a little short for the money, and a bit of a hassle due to some Groupon confusion – but I had a great time during and after the actual trek, just interacting with, petting and cuddling the huskies! Some nice photos too of course 😉

James and Starsky
James and Starsky – He was a lovely pup, very docile. Starsky wasn’t bad either 😉

The location is, admittedly, a bit out of the way, it is a rural estate very close to Newtonstewart. It took us two hours to reach the town by coach, and for a small additional fee the organiser picked us up and dropped us off at the bus stop. This was pretty important – otherwise I don’t know how we would have got to the actual site!

Monty looking proud and windswept
Monty looking proud and windswept – very photogenic, or maybe just a poser 😛

It was a great day, as I’m sure you already gathered. I highly recommend the experience (even Gary Lineker enjoyed it!) and it totally confirmed to me that I realllllllllly want a husky :’)

Hank begging
Come on, who wouldn’t want one of these?

Big big big thank you to James Copeland, my wonderful boyfriend and partner, who got me the gift and went through the hassle of booking, having the original Groupon get cancelled, and having to rebook and pay a bit more for that and transport. I really appreciated it, it was such a unique gift – love you <3

Peace, out!

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