Monday, May 12, 2008

No free WiFi? Why?

So there I was, smiling valiantly and answering the questions of rail expert Christian Wolmar, as he asked me exactly why I spend my spare time moaning about First Great Western and sending people badges to wear when their trains are delayed, when something unexpected emerged.
We were filming for the BBC's Week In Week Out series, and I'd agreed to do an interview on Reading station. I dutifully brought along my massively heavy and rather out-of-date laptop, as we'd been told there was WiFi access at the coffee shop on platform four. And so there is, but you have to pay for it, at the rate of £2.50 per half hour, or something like that.
There followed much hassle and bother as the producer tried to use his card to log us on to the system. It took us about ten minutes. My question is: why not make this service free? If it takes ten minutes to log onto it, many people won't bother, and the amount of money it makes must be negligable. So, why not give everyone a treat and offer something useful and free, which they can use when their trains are delayed, thereby distracting them from thoughts of penning a complaint letter to FGW.
Just a thought.


Lord Hutton said...

Because "Customer Service" is run by teenage eejuts who need mummy to blow their noses? Railway Treacle? Wolmar knows all about Railway Treacle. Things take years to change on the railway.

Anonymous said...

Why should the WiFi be free for the minority who wish to use it? It would not be free, it would be paid for in part by those who do not use it, as the overall cost would come out of ticket prices.

Anonymous said...

Travelled down from Edinburgh to London KingsX on the new National Express East Coast franchise. They have rolled out free wifi across the entire train. Have to say it was brilliant and would make me consider travelling with them over Virgin West Coast. Was on a packed Sunday afternoon train, and there were plenty of users.

Wonder what would make FGW roll out a customer friendly innovation like that?!

Incidentally, East Coast train was on time, and even the Circle line was running with no delays. Got to Paddington and got on the train, which then sat there for 20 minutes with no annoucement or anything. I popped my head out to the door to ask one of the train dispatch crew who merely shrugged their shoulders and said the driver was taking his time! We eventually got moving, but no apology or announcement... The contrast with the almost over attentive staff on NEEC was stark!

Richard, FGW said...

wifi coming to FGW soon...

Anonymous said...

no it isnt: I discussed the matter with a FGW director recently and the crux of it is: those who want wifi already have dongles and wifi inclusion would cost an enormous amount which cant be justified.

Susannah Patrick said...

I asked FGW customer service about on board a few days ago. Their response:

With regard to the availability of WIFI, I regret that we currently do not have this on our trains and there are no plans to introduce this at the present time.

BTW I dont mind paying a reaonsable fee for on-board wifi. And it would have been a far better service that the on board "volo" screens that have the same small choice of programes on every single journey.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's 2012 and still no wifi...

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