Friday, 31 March 2017

Publicity Matters : For Some it Doesn't Matter

fbb does not readily associate Tesco with public transport, possibly with the exception of free buses to certain stores. But when a chum sent this item over the ether, fbb was, if nothing, intrigued. The correspondent had contacted his local store about incorrect price labels on the shelves. The reply was very revealing.

Can we really believe that Tesco, despite its recent fine, could be so cavalier in its attitude to informing its customers of the price and availability of products?

Of course we can't, because the above is a fabricated epistle, created by the ever active mind of an overweight blogging person of some note no note whatsoever.

But below is an actual email!
Back in November 2016, one of our Sheffield correspondents (called Stan Ington, for anonymity) contacted a certain Aberdeen based bus company with some queries about timetable availability and errors. It should be stressed that the original query was about COMPANY publicity.
The "starter" email was via the web site and "Customer Services".

From here on, fbb has abbreviated the emails.

Over one month later (slick reply, eh?) came this reply.

Sadly, Ms J B had been searching PTE non-leaflets (which were error free) ...
... whereas Stan referred to company publicity (which wasn't.

Stan immediately emailed back:-

Thank you for your belated reply to my email regarding errors on your printed timetables (not on the Travel South Yorkshire PDFs produced by South Yorkshire PTE which you attached to your reply). I was referring to the printed A7 size timetables produced by First South Yorkshire and available for a limited time after their publication from Arundel Gate, Sheffield and from the Customer Services desk at Sheffield Interchange. Unfortunately the leaflets in question seem to be no longer available and adequate stocks of them do not seem to be maintained.

Stan went on to repeat the errors which were serious and could have been very misleading to the public.


On 3rd February (2017), Stan tried again.

Did you receive the email below which I sent you on 28 December 2016? I have heard nothing further from anyone at FirstGroup in response.

Since sending this, I have a further question to raise: why were no printed timetables available in Rotherham for the significant changes from 29 January 2017, which included renumbered services? Out of date and incorrect timetables leaflets were on display at Rotherham Interchange and the Customer Services Assistant advised that he had not been given any new ones (presumably by the Company) to replace those which wrong.

Again, more specific details were included in Stan's email.


On 16th March, Stan tried yet again.

Is there any progress on this matter as I have heard nothing further. I would appreciate a considered response to my comments.

Finally on 27th March (Monday last) came a reply to complaints first made back in November 2016. This was the eight bullet points above, parodied by fbb in the "Tesco" item at the head of this blog.

Let us analyse this reply from Ms JB.
Unbelievable! By what twist of intellect can a company knowingly offer its customers wrong information about its products?
Whilst the PTE's abandonment of printed material is inexcusable, First Bus have had over two years to do something about it. The fact that the company can write something like this shows a consummate lack of customer care.
Twaddle! And double twaddle! Costs of producing printed material are negligible when set against the overall cost base of a large bus company.
At worst this is even more twaddle - at best it smacks of poor management and scheduling. It is interesting to note that First's"partner" (snigger snigger) in Sheffield doesn't find it necessary to change its timetables for the same route several times each year. At a rough guess, service X78 (Sheffield to Doncaster) has had a new timetable twice a year (on average) for at least the last six years.
Of this list, only one provides actual timetables. Mobile apps don't (with one notable exception), information points don't and bus stops don't. But there is a deeper problem here. The percentage of First's customers who regularly open up their laptop to check on the time of their next bus is very small. Even a senior man from First admitted to fbb that, when he visited community groups and talked about publicity, they all wanted a timetable leaflet.
No corrected leaflets have appeared. No leaflets of any sort have appeared.

Beyond belief.

And it isn't just Sheffield
fbb heard, from a very reliable source, of a man in Harrogate who contacted First Kernow (Conwall) and asked for a timetable to be posted as he was planning his holiday out West. The reply went something like this:-

Mr Harrogate even offered to pay for the postage!

Beyond belief, again.

For the record, in the 7 years of this blog, the old codger has sent emails on about a dozen times to First Bus companies requesting fares information. He has done this, not as fbb (blogger), but as his real persona.


As Hamlet didn't quite say, "There is something (very) rotten in the state of Denmark First Bus' attitude to its customers."

And to a regular comment writer who hides under the "Anonymous" tag but regularly offers snide opinions and person attacks on fbb, please note that this blog's material emanated from a long-tern resident of Sheffield and a regular bus user. His frustration is real and practical.

And How Would You Find Out
fbb likes to keep an eye on what may be coming up in the Steel City. So, from time to time, he checks the Travel South Yorkshire web site. Hitherto, to be fair, this has been very up-front about forthcoming changes.

A few blogs back, fbb commented that TSY had not publicised the seasonal changes for Derbyshire services which came into effect last weekend. Poor show.

But amazingly, whilst looking out for the next lot of changes (due at the end of April), fbb discovered another change First's web site. The information is well hidden in the "Planned Changes" section of the web site.
Presumably, if Stan wants to go anywhere by bus, he must search TSY and company web sites to make sure these secret "Planned Changes" don't affect his chosen journey.

Beyond belief, yet again! Here is First's secretive note.

Revised timetables will be introduced on services X1 and X78 from Monday 13 March

We're constantly monitoring all our services - because of the roadworks on Meadowhall Road, Sheffield and other roadworks near to Meadowhall, which is adding further traffic onto Meadowhall Road, we're introducing timetable amendments to services X1 and X78.

Back to TSY's site and, yes, there were the revised tables.
But TSY has never announced the revision on their changes page.
How would Stan Ington or any other potential passenger find out? Presumably after they had missed their bus!

Beyond belief, yet again.

Tomorrow, perhaps, we can be a little light hearted, especially in view of the date!?

 Next light hearted blog : Saturday 1st April 


  1. FirstBus clearly put the marketing budget in the file marked B1N

  2. I emailed First Buses of Somerset with a fares enquiry a few months back. I got a reply three days later from a lady in Norwich. Yes, I got the info I wanted but by then I'd been, returned home and travelled with another operator instead as First hadn't replied.

    In contrast I've emailed Stagecoach Devon three times recently with similar queries and every time I've had a email back from their Exeter Travelshop within the hour. That is how you deliver great customer service.

    1. When I've called First however they have given me the fare information immediately