In my first post about VIA, I described the failure of VIA to get my wife and baby home from Montreal to Toronto in a reasonable fashion. After a train breakdown, it was their customer service that went off the rails.
We pick up the story after contacting their customer support to discuss compensation.
The offered compensation was a 50% ticket credit for the one-way trip and it must be used within the year. It seemed to me this was a very restrictive policy and my family would have no use for this. After some discussion with VIA, and a note to them on Twitter, a refund of 50% of the one-way trip was offered. They required that the ticket must be mailed in before they could process this. After doing so, I never heard from VIA and the refund never arrived.
I’m not exactly sure why the policy of requiring the original ticket exists in the first place, other than to provide a barrier to getting the refund. VIA already had our personal information, credit card number, and date of the trip in their database.
When a company doesn’t deliver on their commitment, and when customer service is particularly bad, the company needs to know. However, when I tried to escalate the complaint, they were not interested in listening. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Customer Experience Executive at VIA ignored two requests to connect on LinkedIn to hear my story.
After posting Part 1 of this story, VIA contacted me via Twitter to review, hence the delay in posting my conclusion. The 50% one-way refund was back on the table. We offered to provide a scanned copy of the ticket since the original was ‘lost in the mail’. The customer relations rep said it was not necessary. So this leads me to believe the ticket is completely unnecessary.
We did accept the offer. I am still not fully satisfied as my point of view is that VIA did not fulfill their end of the contract. One assumes that when buying a train ticket, that the contract involves getting the passenger from Point A to Point B, by train! Failing to meet the contract, VIA provided alternate but, in my opinion, not reasonable accommodations , and certainly did not deliver anywhere near on-time. The scheduled 5-hour trip took over 15 hours.
Delivering a customer from Montreal to Cornwall does not constitute fulfilling a contract and is not even 50% of the distance (it is about 20% of the distance). Of course VIA did not budge on their offer. So how they came up with a 50% refund seems to be part of an internal policy, perhaps regardless of circumstances.
VIA failed in providing train service, setting expectations, customer service, and making the customer whole, although they eventually provided a partial refund. Needless to say, my family will have to think hard about travelling with VIA again.
Readers: Have you ever travelled by VIA? What was your experience? Do you think their eventual offer was fair?