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 2021/22 we received 35,965 complaints and closed 26,815 complaints.
We closed 96.69% of the complaints we received within 20 days of receipt, and we took an average of 12 days to respond.
Categories for complaints
The top 5 complaint categories in 2021/22 were:
- Quality on Train - Sufficient room for all passengers to sit/stand
- Train Service Performance - Punctuality/Reliability (i.e. the train arriving/departing on time)
- Company Policy - Ticketing and refunds policy
- Delay compensation - claim rejected
- Quality on Train - facilities on board
Possible improvement action undertaken
Quality on Train - Sufficient room for all passengers to sit/stand
The ‘IET cracks’ issue that led to all GWR Intercity Express Trains (IETs) being withdrawn from service in May 2021 for two weeks, led to a large volume of complaints about crowded services.
Alongside Hitachi, we went through the rigorous process to repair the trains that were unable to re-enter service. This was a laborious process that took many months to complete, and in the meantime, we had to operate many services with reduced capacity. As the year went on and more trains returned to service, we were able to operate with increased capacity, and saw a subsequent reduction in crowding complaints.
Train Service Performance - Punctuality/Reliability (i.e. the train arriving/departing on time)
2021/22 was a challenging year for train service performance issues with many variables impacting the punctuality of our services.
The ‘IET cracks’ issue led to the temporary removal from service of our IET fleet in May 2021. Over the course of two weeks, the issue was assessed for any impact on safety. Some of our IETs started returning to service over the following months as fixes were applied.
We also saw the impact of the storms in February 2022 that hit the South of the UK. The severe weather conditions resulted in significant disruption, alongside a steady stream of infrastructure issues which impacted punctuality. Throughout the year we have been working with Network Rail colleagues on ‘Project Fusion’ to drive focus on pain points affecting punctuality in the Thames Valley. This collaborative approach has helped drive improvement.
Company Policy - Ticketing and refunds policy
This category mainly covers issues arising from our refund processes – It is driven by complaints about the process itself and the late payment of refunds to some customers. As per previous years, the volume of refunds we received has spiked due to the varying nature of the pandemic.
We recently (March 2022) changed suppliers for handling our refunds. Alongside the subsequent re-design of our refund forms to make the process easier, this will lead to an improved service for customers who are seeking a refund on previously bought tickets.
Delay compensation - claim rejected
This category captures the complaints raised by customers following the rejection of their initial Delay Repay claim for compensation, with the 1,936 total representing 0.7% of the claims we received in 2021/22.
The complaints were mainly driven by issues customers had uploading multiple tickets and claims for multiple passengers as part of a group. We recognised the complaint driver, and in February 2022 we made changes to our Delay Repay portal that made it much easier for multiple tickets to be uploaded to support a claim. This led to an immediate reduction to the percentage of claims rejected each period, and we expect that improvement to subsequently impact the volume of complaints made against this category.
Quality on Train - facilities on board
The impact of the COVID-19 Omicron variant did not only affect the number of customers travelling with us, but also had a negative impact on staff availability around the turn of the year. This led to some train cancellations, but also impacted on our ability to provide our planned catering offer, both in Standard and First Class. GWR catering staff were required to self-isolate due to either having COVID-19, or because they were pinged by the NHS app. This issue dissipated as the impact of the variant reduced, and we were pleased to be able to return to close to our full catering offer as a result.