Sunday, 7 December 2008


It's getting a bit late now and I have a load of junk on my bed in a semi-unpacked state that I need to move before I can get the sleep I desperately need (the adrenalin is wearing off now and I just need to have some rest before work tomorrow). So this may be quick!

So, got up, breakfast (at the same Italian restaurant as Friday night - food good both times), then saying goodbye to Deborah at the tube. Really was a fun weekend, thank you so much to her for that.

Anyway, finished the packing, the ridiculously heavy, suitcase and thought I'd check the train times as I was meant to be getting to London Marylebone for ther 14:50 train to Birmingham and then change there (after walking to a different station) to get to Manchester. Anyway, I had to leave the hotel at 12:00 so I thought I'd look for an earlier train and try and avoid all the walking. Turns out there was one in about 20mins from Kings Cross!

Got to the station as quickly as I could with my arm feeling like it was being wrenched out of it's socket (really need to learn to travel lighter) and dashed to the platform after a bit of indecision about whether I should check with information if I could get on this train. There was a rail-type-looking person at the top of the platform so I asked him instead. Yes, my "Any Permitted" route ticket would be fine on this National Express train, no problem. Great!

Actually not great.

As it turns out my ticket wasn't valid on that route - apparently "Any Permitted" doesn't really convey enough information. It might be more accurate to say "Only the one we booked for you and don't dare try and make *your* life easier by getting inventive and trying to find the quickest way home".

The guard on the train explained that National Express wouldn't get any money for the ticket I had so it wasn't valid. But, I explained, I'd been told it was and that I wouldn't have got on the train if someone had said no. This didn't seem to sway the guard who pointed out that my ticket was cheaper than a valid one on this route and that I needed to pay £70! Said I wasn't going to do that so that meant he took my name, address, and other details and gave me an "unpaid fares notice" - their version of an ASBO I guess!

I have 7 days to appeal this which is exactly what I'm going to do. I don't mind paying (well maybe not £70) if I make a mistake but I did ask someone if my ticket was okay and was told it was, what else could I do!

Anyway, got to Doncaster where I needed to change train to get to Manchester. Ironically the guard on this train had no problem with my ticket at all - seemingly if you can magically get that far "Doncaster to Piccadilly" is part of the set of "Any Permitted" routes from London to Manchester!

Managed to get a fairly quick connection from Manchester to Chorley and then a swift taxi ride and I was finally back home.

Just in the interests of balance I'm clearly not a happy bunny when it comes to National Express and will post updates on here regarding this mess, but I think it's fair to give credit to companies when they do good things as well as when they are a pain in the neck.

So a few nice words about O2: I was due an upgrade today (contract runs out in March but as a long-standing customer I can a chance of a newer phone a few months early). I had whinged a bit and threatened to leave about a month ago (just impatient for a new phone), but in the end I was told I might get some discounts if I stayed. Too be honest I've never had any problems with O2 (or when they were called Cellnet) and it's probably a case of "better the devil you know".

Anyway, phoned today, explained all this and asked what they could do. So, by Wednesday (hopefully - postage permitting) I will have a nice new C902 (Titanium - James Bond style, think that theme will be getting deleted though) and 30% discount on my line rental. How happy am I :D

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