Honestly, starting next post I’ll go back to the usual light posting full of photos! But I want to say this because someone needs to say something about this sort of crap. And even though my anxiety issues (that and not wanting to get thrown off the train at the next station) prevented me from speaking up at the time, I’ll do it now. Because frankly, better late than never.
And I feel people deserve to know what kind of bull crap goes on, on NMBS trains.
Yesterday, Bert took the 14.31 train from Antwerp Central station with end station Louvain.
We decided, just like quite a few other people, to go sit down in the bike compartment, because there was quite a bit of space there.
Between Berchem and Lier station, the conductor came in to sort out some announcements. Nothing dodgy there. A lady also came in, wanting to speak to him, and she proceeded to apologise and ask if she could speak to him. Said lady was white, but she had a clear eastern European accent. Spoke perfect Dutch though, just with an accent. The conductor proceeded to bark at her that he needed to get on with his job first and that she had to wait.
Which was rude.
She sat down, he did his announcements, and then he gave her his attention.
Turns out, she had wanted to buy a single ticket to wherever she was going (which could be any station along that route where the train stopped, and also irrelevant for this post), but the clerk at the ticket booth had sold her a return ticket. So she wanted to know if she could get a refund and how, because obviously she didn’t need the return trip and had overpaid.
The conductor was EXTREMELY rude. He talked to her literally as if she was a particularly stupid child. Which was bad enough in itself, but then he proceeded to LIE.
And this is a lie that has been maintained by the NMBS for a while.
He claimed that the weekend ticket is half price of a regular (weekday) ticket. Meaning she only paid for one way anyway.
He literally fobbed her off with that lie.
And then when she thanked him for his explanation and apologised for even asking a question (which she really shouldn’t have had to do) he said “that’s fine. By the way, nice try.”
EXCUSE ME?! I can imagine that conductors deal with a lot of crap, and sometimes you get fed up and snap at someone that is really grating on your nerves because they are being rude etc, but this lady was kind, polite and basically ripped off and simply wanted to know what to do!
And not only did he snap at her, he proceeded, in front of an entire train section, to imply that she had tried to do something unfeasible!
That sort of bullshit is simply not ok.
I don’t really want to go and point the finger saying he was racist, but the fact that he was friendly and acted normal (or at least less like a total dick) to people that were white and clearly Belgian (had no accent) leaves me to believe that her ethnicity had something to do with his behavior.
Now, let me explain where he lied, because it’s very easy to prove.
A weekday ticket to Antwerp from where I live costs €9,60.
A weekend ticket to Antwerp from where I live costs €5,80.
Weekend tickets literally state “red (reduction”. 50%”.
Now, I know I’m not good at math, but any person that is, as well as any calculator, will quite happily confirm that 50%, and thus half, of €9,60 is in fact NOT €5,80 but €4,80.
Which happens to be the price of a SINGLE trip from where I live to Antwerp.
And that goes for ANYWHERE.
You pay a certain fair on week days.
During the weekend the tickets are discounted (not 50%, but the price is significantly less, which is great, don’t get me wrong, I love the weekend ticket price!).
A single fare, regardless of the day of the week, is always half of the full, week day, price.
Which is very easy to see if you look up the fares on the NMBS website, so you can see that I’m not making this up for yourself.
Also: if you need a train ticket in Belgium on a day that falls in between a bank holiday or the weekend (like yesterday), ALWAYS check the prices at the ticket desks manned by human employees.
Case in point, website price for a return ticket to Antwerp: week day price of €9,60.
Bert and I paid €5,80 weekend price because they counted it as a weekend ticket as it was an extended bank holiday weekend price wise. At the ticket desks.
So yeah, handy tip right there that can save you a few €.
Basically, I just wanted to point out that once again, the NMBS doesn’t give a shit about customer service, and habitually employs people that lie and are rude.
Obviously NOT every NMBS employee is like that, I’ve met some absolutely lovely people that work for the old firm (bonus points for the ones that get that reference!), but they are few and far between.
Should anyone wonder why they are allowed to carry on the way they do: they are a goverment owned company, and basically the government protects them (in every situation that does not involve a strike) so they get away with this kind of shit (and much, much worse).
Like I said, I just wanted to speak up, with a delay, against the BS I witnessed.
I wish I had been less scared of that kind of conflict situation and said something yesterday, but I feel that making this post is at least better as remaining completely silent and not saying anything.
Mind you, the NMBS will pretend they take this post to heart, and nothing will change, but at least I’ve put it out there.
And people now know how the ticket system works, price wise, which is at least informative I feel.