Forcing people to sit in Coach D is nothing short of an admission that VoloTV isn’t working
I just went online to book a return trip from Plymouth to Paddington via the First Great Western website. As usual, I selected ‘Quiet Carriage’. And once again, I arrived at the point of purchase only to notice that FGW had given me a reservation in my chosen ‘Quiet Carriage’ (coach A) on my way up to London and given me a reservation in the VoloTV coach, coach D, on my way back home on Thursday night. Quite a few times before I’ve been caught out like this, ending up with a reservation in the VoloTV ‘entertainment’ coach on the way home.
Tonight, I stopped short of buying and canceled, closing my browser and starting again. I wanted to prove what I already suspected: that there are seats in the Quiet Coach on Thursday night but First Great Western has another agenda. I went back into the First Great Western website and bought two singles, one after another – each time selecting the Quiet Coach. Presto! Two singles, Quiet Coach both ways. In order to get what I (the customer) want, I am forced to pick up two sets of tickets in different locations. Thanks, First Great Western.
No matter how enthusiastic, committed and sociable the managing director of VoloTV proved to be in response to my initial feedback, I haven’t changed my view of VoloTV since the moment I first encountered it. A pay-to-view seat-back TV set (airline style) was, as far as I could tell, always going to be a losing proposition given the proliferation of personal media players (from MacBooks, to Androids, to iPhones etc) and the fact that they certainly weren’t going away. Put simply, VoloTV was always an imposition – a business idea pushed on the consumer, rather than a business idea that responded to consumer demand. And the fact that First Great Western is trying to force people into Coach D against their wishes (and has been doing this for at least a year) suggests I was right in my initial assessment.
I think it was a bad business decision, First Great Western. If you’re reading this, please amend your booking system so that I can choose the Quiet Carriage that I prefer when spending my money on your service.
Remember, I’m the customer, not VoloTV.