Procedure in place
We know that the needs of communities and our customers change, and we want to
carry on living up to your expectations, and our own high standards. So, when you get in touch with us with a complaint or some feedback, we record all the details – good and bad. We share your comments with the relevant areas of the business in daily, weekly, and monthly reports. They go to the managers and senior managers responsible, as well as our directors.
The reports help us work out where we can improve, and what changes we need to make to give our customers a great service. That’s why we’re always happy to hear from you.
Find out more about how we deal with complaints and complaints data
- use the complaint data to identify the root causes of complaints.
- take action to reduce the chance of a similar issue happening again.
- regularly review our performance when dealing with complaints to improve how we deal with them.
Number of complaints and outcome
In 2020/21 we received 14,021 complaints and closed 15,553 complaints. We received and closed complaints outside of the reporting period. This is why the number of complaints closed is higher than the number received.
We closed 95.5% of the complaints we received within 20 days of receipt, and we took an average of 4.2 days to respond to complaints.
Categories for complaints
The top 5 complaint categories in 2020/21 were:
- Ticket Buying Facilities - other
- Ticket and Refund Policy
- Delay Compensation Scheme - claim rejected
- the helpfulness and attitude of staff on train
Possible improvement action undertaken
Ticket Buying Facilities - other
The initial COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020 led to an extremely large, and unprecedented volume of refund requests being made in a very short space of time. The high volumes meant it took us longer to process refund applications and the subsequent delays drove complaints from customers as they waited for their refund to be processed.
Complaint volumes peaked in period 3, followed by a steady decline before settling back to normal volumes from period 8.
We reacted to the high volume of applications by changing our process to allow all refunds to be applied for and settled online. This allowed our customers to remain COVID-19 safe and receive their refund without the need to go to a ticket office, or to even post unused paper tickets back to us.
Ticket and Refund Policy
We received and processed more refund applications than ever before over the year. This significant volume of refund applications contributed to a surge in complaints regarding the normal time restrictions to apply for a refund (28 days) and the administration fee applied to each refund.
Along with the rest of the rail industry, our policy on refunds was largely guided by the Department for Transport who amended the existing policy to give customers more time to apply (56 days). This change in industry policy allowed customers more time to make a refund application and was beneficial to all customers.
We regularly updated our website to ensure that customers can easily access any information they may require. We also further developed our Frequently Asked Questions web page and made sure it was up-to-date based on what customers needed to know.
Delay Compensation Scheme - claim rejected
The volume of complaints about rejected Delay Repay claims was caused by a combination of system issues and customer errors when completing the claim form.
We constantly review our customer-facing content and to reduce complaints in this area, we have re-designed and re-written our Delay Repay pages, including advice on how to successfully make a claim. This work will continue with future changes including having helpful prompts on the online claim form to further reduce any errors, and by consequence, complaints.
We saw several timetable amendments in 2020/21 and these changes led to some cancelled services and subsequent complaints. A third of the annual total number of complaints for this category was received in period 1.
A more settled timetable from April/May 2020 onwards led to an instant reduction in complaints, and we went on to record excellent results throughout the rest of the year.
We continue to work to get to the bottom of why delays occur and establish ways to prevent them. Our focus is on the things we can directly control. We are engaging in an ‘Every Second Counts’ campaign to focus all our teams on the importance of an on-time railway, as we know that is important to our customers.
The helpfulness and attitude of staff on train
We saw a steady volume of staff complaints throughout the year, aside from a peak between periods 6 and 9 where we also saw an increase in passenger numbers as lockdown restrictions eased. The complaints were almost exclusively customer concerns about COVID-19, social distancing by staff, or occasions where our customers felt that we weren't managing social distancing well.
Throughout the year we prioritised the safety of our customers and colleagues. We improved the visibility and clarity of our customer-facing safety information, so customers are aware of the guidelines. We continued to work with the British Transport Police when passengers were not wearing mandatory face coverings and following social distancing rules.
We refined our guidance for our on-board colleagues as the Government advice changed.