NS workers should do whatever they can to help NS customers in case of a delay or cancelled train. Instead they are invited to take out an insurance. NS have gone completely off the rails, writes Annemarie van Gaal.
The other week I noticed a small news item in the newspaper: Dutch Rail is going into the insurance business. There will be a trial period to start things off. For €5 travellers can insure themselves against the indifference of NS staff. If your train to the airport is delayed, the company will do its utmost to get you there in time. ‘We will take you there by taxi if necessary,’ NS says, ‘or we will accompany you to the check-in desk.’
Cancelled journeys or rail defects are not necessarily the fault of NS. Delays are a nuisance but people will put up with them as long as staff realise just how big a nuisance it really is and do whatever they can to remedy the situation.
Having to take out insurance with a state-owned company in order to be treated like a customer and make sure the company is doing what can be expected of it is unlikely to be met with such understanding.
What would happen if entrepreneurs were to do the same? I go to my printers, for instance, and order a stack of flyers for a promotional campaign which is to start in two weeks. The printer says he can deliver the flyers on time. But something could go wrong, of course. One of the presses might break down and my flyers may not be ready in time.
Suppose my printer then offers me insurance which would cover such an eventuality. He would do his best to get the work done by a fellow printer or help me find some other solution. Would I accept this?
What about a kitchen manufacturer who tells you to take out insurance so they will do their best to get you all the stuff you’ve ordered? I think customers would look for another printer and cancel the kitchen.
Off the rails
Printers and kitchen manufacturers aren’t in short supply. If you want a train to Schiphol there is no alternative but to use state-owned NS. We’ll have to put up with their insurance. But the person who dreamed this one up, not to mention the person who sanctioned it, should seriously consider whether they are in the right job.
The insurance says: ‘You may have bought a ticket but that doesn’t make you a customer. You can’t expect us to do our best for you, not even if we’re to blame for the delay.’ A company which wants people to take out insurance in order to be treated like a customer is totally off the rails.
Annemarie van Gaal is head of AM Media and a writer and columnist.
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