Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Reluctant exercising of consumer choice

So I said something very like:

Dear Stagecoach Oxford

Yesterday afternoon I boarded one of your #1 buses from Oxford city centre to Cowley Road, as I do regularly. 'Tesco, please!' I said to the driver, as I do regularly. He said 'two pounds'. I thought he'd misheard me, or maybe thought I wanted the big Tesco right at the end of Cowley Road (not that the bus goes there), so I said, no, the second stop on Cowley Road, the one before Manzil Way. He said 'two pounds'. I said 'it's not two pounds, it's £1.30'. Which it is. He waved me away and said 'get the other bus then'.

I stood there for a while, and he sold tickets to the people behind me, who asked for St Clements. He charged them 80p. I said 'I just want the stop after that'. He said 'two pounds, or get the other bus'. I argued a bit longer, asking how much to Manzil Way, because that costs £1.30, and I want the stop before it, but he wasn't going to sell me a ticket for less than two pounds. And I wasn't paying two pounds.

I figured I would stand my ground, as I had a lot of stuff with me and I thought eventually someone else would get on and ask for the stop I wanted and I could just say 'same as them!', but there was a huge queue behind me getting impatient, and he'd clearly decided he wasn't backing down. So in the end I said forget it and got off. I then ran for the Oxford Bus Company's #5, and asked for Tesco. The driver said '£1.30, love'. I nearly cried.

I found your driver's behaviour to be upsetting, unpleasant and rude. And I don't know why he didn't want me on his bus, unless there was some complicated face saving thing going on. If he was, as I believe, wrong about the fare, I would like him to know that's how I felt, and I would like you to know that he did it. I wouldn't want anyone else to have that experience, it was horrible. If on the other hand your fare from Oxford to Tesco *has* gone up to two pounds, *I'd* like to know, so I can make sure to avoid your buses in future.

The Oxford Bus Company's bus delivered me to Tesco sooner than your bus, possibly because of the queue that built up behind me while your driver was intent on overcharging me. So when I got off, I took a photo of it (attached), the registration number is visible as OV51KAJ, and you should be able to work out who the driver was.


Haven't heard anything yet. Bus drivers were never this unpleasant in small town Lancashire.




Anonymous Charlie said...

I can't believe it's £1.30!

10:30 am  
Blogger Jo said...

I know, it's extortionate. Tesco is a fare stage, it's the same price all the way up to the Swan I think. But I don't get the bus often enough to make it worth getting a pass. And I usually walk in and bus back, so don't buy a return, which would save a bit on two singles. Basically, the system is already designed to piss me off, even before they add nasty drivers into it.

10:36 am  
Blogger Beth said...

He probably thought you look like someone who doesn't use buses very often and wouldn't know the cost.

Then again, the price on the train varys from conducter to conducter (only by 10p or so though, so it's not worth questioning - and if anyone does question it they just point at the machine, and you can't argue with the machine).

Anyway - well done for getting off!

1:26 pm  
Anonymous Charlie said...

If there is still no reply, I suggest the following redraft:

Dear Stagecoach,

£1.30 would be bad enough, but at £2 it would literally be cheaper for me to buy a 4x4, drive to Glasgow airport, get a flight to Stansted and then take a taxi home. And then burn a pile of tyres in my back garden.

Hysterical exaggeration is the only language they understand. I think your original may be too dry and understated.

9:42 am  

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