Poor First Great Western. Sometimes I feel almost sorry for them. As regular visitors will know, I've been trying for some time to get a refund of £12.00 for a taxi I had to take when a replacement bus service failed to turn up. Since then, I've been exchanging letters with the Customer Service Department, who eventually agreed to give me a refund. However, a month later, I'd still not received a cheque, so I sent a third letter, chasing up the payment. These are selected highlights from the letter I received yesterday:
"I regret there has been an administrative error, and the ordering of your cheque has been severely delayed. However, I have arranged for another cheque to be sent to you at the earliest available opportunity"
"As a goodwill gesture ... I would like to offer you a complimentary Standard Class ticket to make a return journey with First Great Western at any time in the next twelve months"
"I am happy to enclose a Rail Travel Voucher for £5.00"
"I would like to thank you for your letter and your patience in this matter and hope that this will be resolved to your satisfaction soon"
Honestly, all I want is my £12.00 back, but FGW seem utterly unable to send it to me. So, instead, they've so far given me £30.00 in rail vouchers and a free return ticket, valid for 12 months. Which must be worth a few pounds as it's a standard return, which as we know is almost as expensive per mile as a charter rocket flight to Mars.
It almost makes me feel guilty, as though I'm kicking a puppy, when they're so grovellingly sorry for not being able to give me what I want.
But then, I think back to my journey this morning, in which my train from Pangbourne was delayed, and I only made my connection at Reading by sprinting full tilt across the entire station in a most undignified fashion, even though I'd allowed plenty of time for delays.
And, I read articles like this one in the Times, and it turns out I don't feel so bad after all.