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Tuesday, December 21, 2010


the tories are always very keen to point out that private enterprise is so much better than the public sector.
big organisations like the nhs and education can't be run from the centre they tell us - just can't do it they say. ignoring the fact that the most successful big private sector companies are run pretty much from their head offices, but hey let us not let fact get in the way of good ideology.
so remember the mantra: private good, public bad (until we get the private sector in on it).

can't help but think that a big hole has been punched through that argument during the recent snow crisis. you just have to turn towards heathrow airport to see what i mean.
from all accounts many of the passengers who had been stranded at the airport were there with little or no information being given to them. their travel plans wrecked and they were being left in the dark.
it seemed the best british airport authority could do was point out that it was a complex situation and that they were not responsible for the booking of flights that was down to the 90 or so airlines that use the airport.
leaving aside the physical problems that the airport faced: too much snow and iced in airplanes for instance, as they are questions of resources and investment - if you don't think that you are going to suffer bad weather every year do you want to spend money on equipment you will only use occasionally? seems the answer to that is simple: no.
what i haven't been able to understand is why they don't have a plan in place to get information out to customers, either before they get to the airport or when they are at the airport. after all it is not like heathrow hasn't been involved with such delays in the past. there was snow last year, the volcanic ash (the so called plume of doom) and of course the various british airways strikes. you would have thought by now that their would have been a contingency plan in place that kicked into action the moment major delays looked to be occurring.
after all how hard can it be to draft in more people in call centres to deal with the added calls? how hard can it be to constantly update the website? how hard can it be to draft in more staff to be there to speak face to face with customers who are in the airport. how hard is it to send out emails or texts
remember it isn't just baa who has to do it - the 90 airlines who operate out of heathrow know who their customers are, have details of them and could have been proactive in contacting them and informing them.
seems they didn't.
seems they ran around like headless chickens.
i bet they all have  marketing, media and human resources departments yet none of them could make sure their customers were kept informed and made comfortable.

over at eurostar where customers were queuing up at four in the morning to get on the train (the line of people running for several hundred meters from st. pancras down to the british library) who was it who was doling out hot drinks and blankets to the waiting throng?
was it the lovely people at eurostar?
or was it a charity or two such as the salvation army?

next time someone tells you that private companies are so much better than public ones feel free to laugh in their faces.

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