Introduction About Site Map

RSS 2 Feed RSS 2 Feed

Main Page | Blog Index

Saturday, April 25th, 2015, 12:37 am

Metrolink Customer Services Not a Good Service (Updated)

Manchester transport

The Manchester Metrolink, a broadening system of electric public transport, is generally a good service. I love it. Many people love it, some hate it, and judging by some aggregated numbers or more recent polls, the number of complaints seems to be rising, which should definitely be cause for concern. Metrolink staff should listen. Some common complaints may be all to do with maintenance, but any service that it being extended/augmented should be expected to have occasional disruptions, which relate to maintenance or faults. Speaking for myself and my wife, we did suffer from such disruptions before, but it’s usually not critical and the bus system is a safe fallback.

In order for the Metrolink system to continue its growth (reaching further and further in each direction) it will need to have public consent, general popularity, and support from the Council. Any kind of disruption might be excusable, depending on how Metrolink handles it and explains it. Failure to deal with a failure or with a complaint would not be viewed favourably and since people speak to each other, negative sentiments can spread quickly.

This post is not intended to bash Metrolink itself but only to express concern about the way Metrolink staff handles failure. Metrolink should by all means be supported as a whole. This is great use of taxpayers’ money and it can be self-subsidising because it’s of interest to millions of people on a daily basis. It keeps pollution low and the city relatively clean, also in the noise sense. Greater Manchester can be proud of it and derive a lot of value from it (it now goes as far as the airport down south now). Despite running its Web site using horrible Microsoft software which is not only expensive but also unreliable (there have been issues over the years), the trams are quite reliable, except when cars get in the track (the trams use rail, unlike some other such services). This post is not a complaint about the frequency of failures but purely about the way they are handled, either by people at the stations or those accepting calls and E-mails ( They must improve or they will inevitably alienate regular customers and therefore put the whole service at risk (due to lack of public support).

My wife and I, both regular travelers of the Metrolink, embarked on a journey from Holt Town last Tuesday, as we quite often do. I was using the machine at the west side of the station, which was a big mistake. As soon as I dropped the first pound coin inside in order to make the payment (8 pounds for my wife and I, overall, in total) it was slow to fall in and I waited until it finally did, barely. Something was clogging it up its way. I then put in a 2-pound coin and it really struggled to go in. I tried to push it in with the next coin (1-pound coin) and at this stage both were stuck inside. The machine then cancelled the transaction, shut the lid, and returned one pound to me (the other two coins were still stuck inside), so I basically lost 3 pounds. To retrieve such lost money it usually takes a lot of work (bureaucracy), but I remained optimistic. This ultimately ruined the rest of my day, especially since I approached Metrolink staff and all they could say is that I should send an E-mail. I even saw one man fixing a machine with a similar fault in Piccadilly Gardens station (north side) half an hour later and asked him if he could report this for me, but he could not help (he wore a shirt that said “Metrolink” but insisted that he does not work for Metrolink). There was nobody to speak to and those whom I could reach by phone were unwilling to help (I asked repeatedly if this can be done over the telephone). The fault with the machine was apparently not so uncommon (despite it being the first time I have such an issue) because the guy working at Piccadilly Gardens station was fixing what seems like a similar if not identical issue (the guy works for the company contracted to maintain them). The machine would not accept cash anymore, at least not in Piccadilly Gardens station, which indicates either a chronic issue with these machines or some yobs messing about with many of these machine in an effort to abuse them, which in turn hurts people like ourselves. Either way, never mind the frequency of these issues or the cause; this may not be the top issue, just the way they were handled (or not). I honestly think that jumping through all these hoops to receive my money back shouldn’t be happening. They said I should give my postcode. Our address was given to them. It has not been 4 days and we are still waiting.

After spending a lot of time giving Metrolink all my details I said: “Please rectify this as soon as possible (I can send ticket number/time if you need it). I presume you already have log files/CCTV footage near the machine, it was around 2PM today. I cannot believe that I have to go through all this trouble just to get my 3 pounds back. I will be writing about this experience online because by this stage you are the third line of support that I approach and for merely 3 pounds which were lost not by my own fault I think there’s merit for a complaint.”

I did receive a reply on the same day. It said:


Thank you for your email and all your valuable feedback.

Can you send copies of your Metrolink tickets.

Best regards

That’s an odd thing to say because, putting aside the work required to photograph/scan, then pass files and E-mail them (or sending any originals by post), these tickets have nothing to do with my issue. We later purchased two tickets with my debit card; are these relevant to it? Not really, these are not the tickets which the report is about.

Why is Metrolink staff asking for photographs of tickets completely unrelated to the ones for which error made. They’re terrible at reading the detailed explanation of what happened. Maybe it was a ‘template’ response.

I then had to nag them again for another response. About a day passed with not a single reply. It’s almost as though they discourage one from reporting the issue and hope that the person will just lose interest and walk away (problem ‘solved’).

In my response to my nag the Metrolink staff (which I won’t name because privacy is deserved here) wrote:


After reviewing further all you have said I can give you the option to receive a £3.00 cheque refund (within 15 working days) or I can post two replacement day tickets to you this evening.

I have forwarded all your feedback in relation to the refund procedure, to the management team.

“Thanks for getting back to me,” I replied. “If you can send replacement day tickets for me and my wife, that would be preferable.”

I have not heard anything since them. It has been two days.

I added: “I appreciate you making the effort to pass my comments to those who can improve response in the future. As soon as the coins got jammed I foresaw it becoming a huge hassle and I was right.”

Well, it still is a hassle because I have not heard back and here I am writing a long rant about it. Because of 3 pounds. That’s less than five US dollars.

Metrolink should definitely reassess its handling of cases like these because if it repeats this, then it’s likely that not only will it lose customers but also tarnish its reputation.

This post will be updated as developments are made

Update (one week later): After waiting for over a week, contacting 3 people, and sending ~5 unanswered mails I am going to make a complaint against Metrolink Customer Services. From my one-way communication with them:

  • “Any update on this?”
  • “Any progress on this? This is the third time I write to you guys this week. This is very bad service…”
  • “At this stage I wish to make a formal complaint about metrolink customer services. Please provide me with contact details of the relevant department.”

Update #2: 9 days later I finally received a response again (first in about a week, only after I had expressed intent to file a formal complaint).

Metrolink staff:


Thank you for your email.

I have been awaiting your address.

I have just read the email trail below, and it appears I have not asked you. I am very sorry for my error.

Can I please have you full postal address.

Best regards

Customer Experience Advisor
Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd

And later:


I was on rest day yesterday, you will notice I have just responded to your email on Tuesday (as that is the first one I came to), would you still like to take this further?

Best regards

Customer Experience Advisor
Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd

To which my response was: “My full postal address was in my first message, as I was advised over the telephone to get it to you (I phoned the Services at Piccadilly Gardens Station last Tuesday).

“I was disappointed to see what hoops people have to jump through, even if they’re loyal customers, due to machine malfunction and a subsequent prolonged process that discourages the victim. I can imagine that few people bother pursuing (getting their lost money) and those who do bother will lose interest quite fast and be grumpy about it, whereupon they might stop using the service. I did try to provide a detailed account of what my wife and I had to go through and how it ruined not only our day but also our week (as this has been preying on my mind since).”

Let’s see how long it takes for money to be returned.

Update #3: The staff replied promptly, stating:

Thank you for your sending me your address.

Follow passenger feedback, similar to your own, the process is currently being reviewed. Hopefully the process can be improved.

I have now posted your tickets, my apologies once again.

Best regards

Customer Experience Advisor
Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd

This indicates that other people have had similar problems.

Update #4: Yet another week and a half has passed and still we’ve received nothing. Here is the correspondence so far.

Me (one week later):

We have not received anything by post yet. Was it sent last week?



Four complimentary tickets were sent last Friday.

Please allow a couple more days, as our post may have been delayed with the bank holiday weekend.

Best regards

Customer Experience Advisor
Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd

Me (another half a week later):

Nothing has arrived by post. Can we please have the complaints E-mail address?


Hi Roy,

The tickets are in letter form, have you received the letter?

Best regards

Customer Experience Advisor
Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd


We have not received anything yet. Was it sent to [redacted] Manchester? Was it returned to sender maybe?



I have no idea why you have still not received your tickets. I have double checked the address, and it matches the one you sent.

My manager has authorised me to email them to you, do you have access to a printer?

Best regards

Customer Experience Advisor
Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd

Sounds like a lot of trouble. Now we need to print our own compensation, if it ever gets sent digitally at all.

I replied:

Yes, we have a printer at home.

Later I added:

Watch how much trouble we have had to go through over the 3 pounds devoured by the Metrolink machines (not our fault). What a total waste of time it has been (maybe about 5 hours so far). I could earn hundreds of pounds at work in such a period of time. Earlier today we rode the tram, but it’s an experience like this which leaves me wanting to just avoid the tram altogether, for good, as a matter of principle. I have started to have a bit of resentment towards the service because of what happened — a complete reversal of my previous position. Had someone at the station been able to help us on the day it happened (about 20 minutes later in Piccadilly Gardens), I wouldn’t have had to start this month-long pursuit which I now regret, seeing what a waste of time it is (at both sides, yours too). This type of procedure needs to be fixed/rectified, which is why I asked about a complaints address. Nothing is going to improve unless cases like ours are properly studied and there’s risk that you would alienate yet more loyal customers.

Update: this has finally been escalated to management. Turns out that Metrolink Customer Services sent the replacement tickets to the wrong address (a manager has just told me). Wow. Disaster on top of a disaster. Here is the full message I’ve just received:

Good Evening

My name is [redacted] I am a Customer Network Manager here at Metrolink.

I cannot apologise enough that firstly you had an issue with the ticket machines and then you had to wait for the replacement tickets to be sent to you only to find they had initially been sent to the wrong address.

I have checked the database where the tickets are generated and it does show that three tickets have been posted out to you. As it seems the post is unreliable I asked my colleague to email them over to ensure they are received.

Here at Metrolink we operate an open system where it is not possible to man all 94 stations on all platforms throughout service hours. I understand how frustrating this must be when you have a problem with the ticket machine and I sincerely apologise.

Metrolink are contracted by Transport for Greater Manchester to operate the system any major changes to our operations would need to be made by them. If you would like to contact them and discuss any suggestions you may have please email

I will have my colleague email the ticket over to you as soon as possible.

Kind Regards


Customer Network Manager

Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd

For the record, I have asked again to ensure a mistake was indeed made:

Good Evening [redacted],

If I understand this correctly, you initially posted the tickets to the wrong address, which helps explain the infinite delay. Is that the case?



This was then confirmed:

That is the feedback I had from my colleague the initial address was incorrect that we had on our database.

Again I apologise

My reply (while still waiting to see how to acquire or redeem the replacement tickets:

Thanks, I appreciate you taking the time to respond and acknowledge the error.

Hopefully it will all be fine from here onwards.

Technical Notes About Comments

Comments may include corrections, additions, citations, expressions of consent or even disagreements. They should preferably remain on topic.

Moderation: All genuine comments will be added. If your comment does not appear immediately (a rarity), it awaits moderation as it contained a sensitive word or a URI.

Trackbacks: The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

Syndication: RSS feed for comments on this post RSS 2

    See also: What are feeds?, Local Feeds

Comments format: Line and paragraph breaks are automatic, E-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Back to top

Retrieval statistics: 21 queries taking a total of 0.341 seconds • Please report low bandwidth using the feedback form
Original styles created by Ian Main (all acknowledgements) • PHP scripts and styles later modified by Roy Schestowitz • Help yourself to a GPL'd copy
|— Proudly powered by W o r d P r e s s — based on a heavily-hacked version 1.2.1 (Mingus) installation —|