The consumer complained to the Rail Service Provider about the “deteriorating condition” of a particular station car park. It was specifically noted in the escalation to the Ombudsman that a flooding issue has remained for over 5 months since the consumer first raised the issue. The consumer stated that this flooding caused at least 10 spaces to be out of use and the first complaint was prompted because the consumer was unable to get a space that day and had to park elsewhere. This was supported by dated photographic evidence.
The consumer was seeking reassurance that the flooding will be fixed and wanted an explanation about what they considered to be poor customer service. The consumer confirmed that they had not suffered a related financial loss, but was seeking compensation for the ongoing inconvenience caused by less spaces and poor case handling.
The Rail Service Provider had responded to the consumer three months after the first complaint to advise that they had “inspected the area and found no issues with flooding preventing the use of any car parking spaces”, but that it had found “a build-up of silt” around some spaces, which would be dealt with.
The Rail Service Provider’s response to the Ombudsman explained that the original complaint was sent to the relevant station manager, but not followed up in error. The Rail Service Provider apologised for this via the Rail Ombudsman and investigated further to find that a drainage survey report had identified that repairs were necessary. It was advised that a third party was due to undertake this work in a month’s time. (This was now over 12 months from the initial complaint).
What the Ombudsman did
The Ombudsman noted the third party’s involvement in the works, but as this station car park was managed by the Rail Service Provider, it was considered that they should be answerable to consumers about ongoing work.
The Ombudsman took into account the lack of public information about this car park issue affecting space availability. In addition to this there was a lack of resolution to the issue and delays in responding to the consumer. The Ombudsman considered that the consumer went to extensive efforts to get a meaningful response on this complaint. It was noted that the first response took three months. We acknowledged that the Rail Service Provider apologised and explained that work was to commence within a month. However, we also recognised that the flooding issue had been evidenced by the consumer as ongoing for an extended period of time prior to Ombudsman involvement, despite the consumer’s continued complaints.
Accordingly, the Ombudsman awarded a financial sum to be paid by the Rail Service provider as an apology for the complaint handling issues – this equated to the amount of two daily parking tickets. Additionally, we awarded direct monthly email updates for the consumer until this flooding issue was resolved.
Recommendation: The Ombudsman recommended that the Rail Service Provider reviewed their approach to providing information on car park maintenance issues such as these. It was highlighted that in similar circumstances, it would be beneficial for all parties if complaint handlers had a single point to direct the consumer to for regular updates, such as a webpage with maintenance updates and/or station signage. Alongside this, it was also recommended that the Rail Service Provider considers linking car park maintenance to the current car park information displayed on the website.