chiltern trains and excellent service

A bizarre thing happened to me the other weekend. I had a mildly infuriating experience in a train station, and – here’s the thing – the train company behaved impeccably. I know. This is almost unheard of. Here’s what happened: I went to Marylebone and had to buy a ticket. Rather unusually, I had a purse full of pound coins, and so decided to use them, rather than my debit card, to buy my £11 ticket to High Wycombe. As the pounds plopped in to the machine, it became clear that the computer was very slowly saying no. Each coin took longer and longer to register and eventually, I could almost almost hear the cogs grinding to a halt. Fifteen minutes of furious button-pushing later, the machine finally reset and – no ticket. I called over a member of staff to suggest they put a notice on the machine and was fully expecting to be told to buy another ticket. But instead I was taken to a little booth and given a form to fill out to reclaim my money, which they would have for me when they counted up the machine’s takings at the end of the day. I was then given a quaint hand-written ticket (“Please allow Miss Claire Foss to travel to High Wycombe on 14th May 2011. A faulty ticket machine means she is without a ticket. Signed – Mr Station Controller”). Later that day, I got a voicemail telling me they had my £11 and that I could come and get it. I couldn’t get to the station and thought – well, a special trip to Marylebone (cost: £5-£6) to reclaim £11 is a bit ridiculous. I’ll get it next time I go. But then they called again. Could I pop in this week? Not really, unfortunately. No worries, then – they’ll post it for me. And then the next day, this arrived. It’s a shame that Chiltern Trains only run in one direction out of London because I know a few train companies that could stand to give as much of a damn about their customers and their £11.