Marketing Mix: We'll call you - Transport for London

We got a prepay card to avoid the queues caused by clapped-out ticket machines. So why are we still late for work?

TFL Customer service. Can I help?

Mktg Can you tell me what's going on with the District Line? I get on at Wimbledon at 8.30am every day and there are always delays coming into Earls Court. It's really frustrating.

TFL There is no particular ongoing issue with the District Line, but there have been problems lately.

Mktg They say it is due to signalling problems or because there is a queue of trains. I sat on a train in a tunnel outside Earls Court for 15 minutes last week. I was late for work.

TFL There are more signalling problems on the District than other lines.

It has a very ancient signalling system, which is due for renewal as part of the refurbishment that is happening all over the Underground.

Mktg When is that likely to happen?

TFL It will happen over time, as a consequence of the new funding arrangements, but I don't have a time scale. The problems you're experiencing is a consequence of the age of the signalling system.

Mktg One other thing, the ticket machines at Wimbledon are constantly broken or will only accept one type of payment, causing huge queues of angry commuters. Why don't you install machines that work?

TFL If someone has to come out from the ticket office to fix the machine we may have to shut the office in order to do it, which might fix the ticket machine but would upset somebody else.

Mktg But Wimbledon is a large and busy mainline station.

TFL Is that the station you're referring to in regards to ticket machines?

Mktg Yes.

TFL We run the Tube service from there, but the station itself is run by South West Trains. Would you like a customer service number for them?

Mktg Yes please (TFL gives number). One last question. To avoid queues I got an Oyster prepay card, but the only way I can top it up at the station is at a staffed ticket booth. Any plans to install an Oyster top-up machine?

TFL That you will have to put to South West Trains.

VERDICT

The call-handler was very polite and informative. He explained the reasons for the problems I was experiencing and assured me that steps are being taken to improve the performance of the District Line - although he could not specify when this would be done.

He also explained the situation at Wimbledon Station and suggested that I should call its operator, South West Trains, direct regarding the ticket machines and dearth of Oyster card top-up options.

Score 7/10.

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