Driver error left Southsea couple planning a day in London high and dry

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For Southsea couple Jo Wilder and her partner Jake, the promise failed to meet the expectation when a company left them in the lurch after they’d made an advance booking for a day trip to London.

Jo explained she desperately needed to go fabric sourcing to complete a course submission.

In the end I sent about six or seven e-mails but they just ignored me.

Jo Wilder

The couple planned to make a day of it in the capital, combining fabric shopping with visiting museums.

But all their careful planning came to an unexpected grinding halt at The Hard interchange when they were unceremoniously bumped off two National Express scheduled coach services on the same day and ended up arriving four hours late.

Jo said: ‘Thankfully it wasn’t anything substantially important like catching a plane or anything, but I really needed to spend the whole day there.

‘We’d booked a few days before and made sure we got to The Hard stop about 20 minutes early but when we went to get on the coach the driver told us it had been overbooked.

‘Three people could get on after three people left the coach, so they just left us there. The driver said there was a replacement coach coming which never showed up.’

They then had to hang around for an hour until the next scheduled London service arrived at 9.50am.

But confidence that they’d soon be on their way was dashed when they got on, as they were kicked off again because there wasn’t enough room for the current passengers.

By this time it was 11am, some two hours after they originally booked to set off. They were then permitted to board a coach to Southampton, where they waited to change to a London-bound coach, finally arriving at their destination four hours later than planned.

Joe says their day was completely ruined. There simply wasn’t enough time left to get their planned day out into gear and and they were furious at the way they’d been let down.

Much of the time was spent hanging around trying to get on a bus, despite the fact their seats had already been booked well in advance.

Determined not to be short-changed, when they got back they filled in one of the company’s online complaint forms.

Jake was soon offered a refund which arrived within three days, but for some inexplicable reason Jo’s complaint fell on deaf ears.

She says: ‘I e-mailed them the complaint form and then sent another e-mail saying they hadn’t replied.

‘I then got a bit angry and started sending them e-mails every day to say how appalled I was at the bad customer service and I hadn’t even received an apology, not even on the day.

‘In the end I sent about six or seven e-mails but they just ignored me. They had my e-mail address but no-one got back to me.’

An infuriated Jo got in touch with Streetwise to ask if we could help her get the dispute with National Express sorted.

We contacted the company to say it appeared it was in breach of contract. It had promised the couple a seat on a specific coach journey and it had made a pretty poor fist of it.

To make matters worse, no-one had come forward to explain why Jo’s complaint wasn’t being taken seriously and whether what had happened was the result of an overbooking policy in the event of passengers not turning up on the day.

However, we soon discovered the firm’s conditions of carriage say that anyone making an advance seat reservation on a particular service had to accept it was subject to availability of seats. We understood the couple’s seats were available at the time of booking, so couldn’t fathom why they’d been so badly let down.

As a result of our intervention, Jo’s bank account was promptly credited with the cost of the outward fare.

A National Express spokesperson confirmed the problem was all down to driver error. He said they’d tried to contact Jo by phone, but were unable to speak to her because her phone went unanswered.

He said: ‘We apologise for the inconvenience caused to Ms Wilder. We never over-book coach seats, but due to a rare driver error Ms Wilder’s coach departed without its full number of passengers meaning there was not enough capacity for everybody to board the next service.

‘Arrangements for her to catch a different coach were made and we immediately arranged a full refund for the inconvenience caused by this unfortunate error.’

Jo was delighted Streetwise had got to the bottom of her unfortunate experience and for obtaining the refund and apology.

‘Thank you so much’ she said, ‘You were a great help.’