Attempting to take a train west of London today we were informed, once we had bought our tickets and got to the platform that trains had been cancelled until further notice because, apparently someone had been ‘hit by a train’ at a station on the other side of town. While this seems a sad event if true, we were dismayed by the way in which the message was delivered. No apologies for inconvenience, no one on hand to give advice. When I refunded my tickets there was no apology either, no smile indeed no customer service of any recognizable kind.
Go to a walk-in clinic at a London hospital and you’ll get similar treatment that could best be described as ‘begrudging’, or sluggish. The individuals in these huge institutionalized ‘public service ‘ positions often seem to function like automatons with flat batteries. No ‘going the extra mile’ anywhere in sight and you’ll be lucky if you get satisfaction at all.
There is so much of this I wonder how we can call Britain ‘Great’. Okay so the Olympics went well but for the rest of us that have to live in this city and come into contact with the over-priced (yes I pay £60 a week or something in national insurance) ‘services’ we have to endure, it often looks like a bewildering mess. The London Underground costs around six times as much to use as Seoul’s and is considerably more cramped and more low-tech. You stand on the platform here watching black mice scurrying through the trash that’s been left to rot between the tracks. There’s no air-conditioning either, which means that if the train is full and it’s a hot day in July, you could actually be in physical peril.
Is this a kind of corruption? Where does all the money go? The often unprofessional staff on London Underground are rarely available or even visible , let alone helpful!
The reality is that much of these big networks are broken and fundamentally not functioning to some degree or another. Monopolies create this kind of low-fi drudgery that so often seem to leave a bad taste. Complacency is the badge they all seem to wear, protected no doubt by public sector regulations that mean they would probably have to actually murder a customer before they’d be up for review in their jobs.
Do we have a right to expect more? God yes we do! If you can’t get inspired by your work, don’t do it. Give the job to someone that can. Someone that wants to make a difference.If you are sitting on a big public paycheck remember; we are the customers ‘cos we pay your wages.
If you doubt what I have to say here go and take a look at what they have in other countries. Our ‘wonderful’ NHS is ready for the breaker’s yard and on the verge of collapse. Our venerated Underground is a bad and sad joke for the people that live in the capital and suffer the damn thing.
The Olympics are over and there’s work to be done. Next time you can’t get around London or can’t locate a cooperative health professional, remember Lord Coe’s speeches about how “we did it” and how we showed the world what Britain is really made of. Broken Britain? I think someone had a point to make there.