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
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.