Another Complaint – This time to East Midlands Trains

I’ve been left to feel very angry after ringing East Midlands Trains this evening to ask for some assistance, a service they say they provide for disabled passengers. Here’s my latest letter of complaint.

***

22nd September 2009

Dear Sir,

It is with regret that I am writing to you to make a complaint regarding your assisted travel service for people with disabilities. I have been led to believe that it is better to book direct with the company with which I’ll be travelling so phoned East midlands Trains for the first time. I rather wish I hadn’t.

I phoned just after 8 pm this evening and spoke to a gentleman. I explained that I am a blind person with a guide dog and required assistance for a journey to London from Nottingham this Thursday, 24th September. I am travelling on the 10:28 train from Nottingham.

I was asked if I had a preference for where I sit and asked if I could have a seat with some space for my dog. I was told that I couldn’t have the disabled space as I’m not in a wheelchair and unlike other operators, East Midlands Trains do not book an extra seat to make space for a guide dog. I asked the operator what provisions were made for someone in my situation, he sighed and said he’d find out. He came back and said I could have a priority seat but I’m not sure this will give me any space for the dog.

I accepted the booking however, and he then went on to take my details. He asked for my address and when I asked him what this was to be used for, he said he’d be sending out written confirmation. As you can appreciate this is no use to me so I asked if I could give an Email address instead. He wouldn’t take it and by this time he was very impatient saying he’d never been asked these sorts of questions before. I got the impression he couldn’t wait to get me off the phone.

I work in customer service so appreciate how difficult it can be. I therefore remained calm and polite with the operator concerned and at no time was I rude. However, I was made to feel like an awkward customer which has made me feel very upset and angry. Had I said I was a wheelchair user I feel I’d have received a very different response.

At this point I wonder if I even have a reservation as the operator rattled off the reference number very quickly and as he won’t be emailing me any confirmation I am left wondering.

I have been left feeling that East Midlands Trains and their employees are sadly lacking in disability awareness. I was left feeling brushed aside because I asked for a little bit of extra space and an Email. neither of these requests are unreasonable or difficult in my opinion. Not all disabled people come neatly packaged on wheels but we still have needs and resent being made to feel awkward when requesting them.

I am not looking forward to my journey at all on Thursday now and await your comments as soon as possible.

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About Mel Griffiths

I live and work in Nottingham, England and am blind. This blog is often centred around things that happen to me because of being blind. This is my space to write and sometimes people will disagree with what I write, but its the one place I have in which to be frank and honest. I also like to reflect on the funnier side of life from time to time.
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4 Responses to Another Complaint – This time to East Midlands Trains

  1. on the same train
    hi mel, are you going to the protest on thursday? if so, me ez and some n f b members will be on the same train as you! maybe we could sit near each other. huge hugs and sorry you received suchy a bad service. they’ve never been like that to me before. i appreciate i have no guide dog, but still! hugs again.

  2. welshgeordie says:

    Absolutely unbelieveable! Well actually I should say appalling as, sadly, it’s all too believeable. But Mel I am so sorry you had to go through that just to book a seat and some assistance, after all it doesn’t seem like too much to ask does it? It’s not as if he has to call round your house, get you dressed, bathed, fed, out the door up to London on the train on the way taking care of your every whim and desire lol. He doesn’t even have to personally do it. Na, that letter is very warranted and extremely well written.
    It’s exactly as you said. Some people, who should, simply do not have any disability awareness and so grossly under-estimate us and over-estimate our disabilities.
    Anyway good luck with voicing your concerns and please let us know what, if anything, is done.
    Cheers,
    Simon

    • melspooner says:

      Unfortunately I doubt that much will come of this complaint. I’m getting to the point, however, in my life where I am tired of being spoken to as though I were a nuisance and an interruption to people’s daily routine. I all too often get the impression that blind people are expected to put up, shut up and be oh so grateful for the assistance we get.
      I’ave had people on stations moaning because they had to assist me in the past. If assistance was given a little more gracefully, I’d be more than happy to express gratitude for good service.
      I could rant on about this sort of thing for hours but had better not.

      • ezzie_j says:

        that was a very well-written letter.
        Ironic that this kind of behaviour happens two days before we go to protest for the right to have our streets back!
        Take care, and see you tomorow!
        Ezz.

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