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My gripe is really about the lack of timely communication and there are quite a few companies out there that are guilty of this. If a customer sends you an email or makes contact through a form on your website, the very least you should do is get back to them within 24 hours. After all, any business that left their telephones ringing and ringing would pretty soon loose customers. If have provided an avenue of communication for customers then you should service it and respond to them. I'd also like to say that I find the use of premium rate numbers quite distasteful, and in these times when every penny counts, you can bet that more customers will seek out the lower cost alternative number.
Here's a recent example of this. Megabus may well offer very cheap, practically unbeatable bus fares for travel to and from the UK's major towns and cities, but when it comes to general responsiveness to queries via email, Megabus have been found wanting - at least that has been my experience thus far.
I had been trying to plan a trip from Oxford to Coventry for my son recently and the cheap fares offered by Megabus were very attractive indeed, far better than the train or rival bus companies, also far more cost effective than the cost of petrol if I were to make the return trip by car. There wasn't a huge number of buses throughout the day as you'd expect, but the journey time was just over an hour so it seemed a pretty good service all round.
The pickup point in Oxford was fine as it was at Water Eaton Park and Ride, not too far from home so all well and good. However, the drop of point in Coventry was a bit of a problem. Cannon Park is the other side of Coventry for me and as I would need to borrow my partner's car it wouldn't be straight forward to fit it in with work and school times etc. A local bus journey from there to my home would probably add another hour to the journey.
After a little more digging around on the Megabus website I found out that Coventry (on the 'Stops' section) had two pickup and drop off points, one of them was at Cannon Park and the other was at the rail station in Coventry, the latter being ideal for us. I wanted to check whether or not this stop was used though as it wasn't mentioned on the journey planner. As you'd expect I went to the 'Contact Us' page and found the enquiries email address, so I fired off a quick email asking about the other stop and waited.
I had hoped to get a response at some point during the next business day...
I had hoped to get a response at some point during the next business day so I could carry on and book tickets or make alternative arrangements. No response was received from Megabus however. "Why don't you just call them?" you may be asking. Well I had considered that, but as it was an 0871 number @ 10p per minute and email was free, I thought let's go with the free option. Besides, I personally favour email as a means of communication and most companies (if they have any self respect) are pretty responsive to emails. I decided to wait another day, they may have just been particularly busy.
The next day I still hadn't received a response to my query so I fired off another email. That was actually five days ago and I still haven't received a response to either email. I have just called the general enquiries phone number (no, not the 0871 number as I found an alternative on Say No to 0870 - 0141 332 9644). Anyway, as it turns out they are not servicing the central Coventry stop and Cannon Park is the only stop for that journey. This information was provided by the dour sounding customer service advisor I spoke to having navigated through the menu and automatic messages (yep, that would have cost on the premium rate). I would have thought if the stop is no longer used then they should remove that information from the website to avoid confusion. Just an idea there folks...
The bottom line is, respond to emails ASAP or you'll start to loose your customers!