When you lose something precious on a train and it is found by the train staff, handed into lost property at a train station you don’t expect to make three visits over two weeks of 20 odd miles each time and still not get it back or be threatened by arrest by the Manager on your latest visit for simply taking 3 pictures of their notice board including their charges (including daily +cover) to put in a complaint AND STILL NOT COLLECT what belongs to you.
I went to London for the celebratory London Disability Arts Festival at South Bank Centre Saturday 1st September, I took my scooter. I got off at Birmingham New St forgot I’d left it behind in the storage bit between the seats. I got on Virgin trains to Euston realised, the guard phoned Arriva to alert them. I got off at Birmingham International to meet the train, was told they handed it in to Lost Property at Birmingham . My panic turned to joy.
I love my scooter, it’s not just a toy to play with as it is to some but an adult scooter, a very fab xmas present from my partner to make getting around easier with my asthma cos it gets worse in cold or rainy weather, when I pass someone smoking, wearing perfe or strong aftershave.
Getting breathless even walking is hell even short distances but throw in 2 wheels that fold up easily for train journeys – it’s liberating.
VISIT ONE – Sunday 2nd September 2002 (the day after)
Next day I went back to Lost Property at Birmingham New Street (run by Excess Baggage Company) to be faced with a staff member where describing what you lost wasn’t enough but I told I could pay by card and get it. I only had cash. I needed ID since you can collect a special delivery letter from the post office with a credit card in your hand as proof … I’d not realised that wasn’t enough as I discovered.
VISIT THREE Thursday 13th of September (now been 12 days)
I live 20 miles from Birmingham it’s an hour and half (door to door) 3 hours there total there and back and the train fare. It’s not exactly round the corner to pop in.
I go in with my bank card only I discover they want my bank details as proof?! WHAT?
Both staff were pushing me to got to my branch and get a statement from them. Why would I even dream of giving a complete stranger my bank details to photocopy?
Since when did banks even print the address on a statement when you ask them for a print out it has your card details and all transactions.
Worse still they then tried to persuade me that I go up to my bank and ask them to EMAIL the statement to them or get online using the free public wifi to download a statement that I could email to them!!
I refused, left annoyed and grumpy without my scooter.
I was also worried that a £5 fee to get it isn’t enough they charge A DAILY RATE of £3.50 for looking after it! That total is mounting.
VISIT THREE today – 14th September 9.30am
I’m there I’m working freelance on a project I think it will take no time to collect and I can go onto work … I show my PASSPORT – that’s not enough they want something with my address on it as well. I thought passports had your address on it no they don’t I’d not realised. I can get across continents with that but I can’t get my scooter. Last time it was a bank card. I’m now confused.
So I take a picture of the notices board with the charges and their notice with their logo on it – I want to complain to the company and National Rail. The manager starts yelling at me, demands I delete the photographs, and comes out charging threatens arrest. I say nothing.
I’m now scared. I’m now going to get arrested. Do I run? I leave the Lost Property unit and stand outside. I really want to leave.
Two staff appear. I’m trying not to cry all I want is my bloody scooter back it’s mine how difficult can it be? I’m trying to keep my head and think tweet! Sounds daft but I don’t want to get put in the slammer and noone notice what is happening to me and I can’t phone anyone.
I try to explain the situation she asks about the photos (it’s really noisy and lots of people around) I say all I took was a picture of the notices to complain as evidence that niether Lost Property nor national rail has information even bother to list information as to what the arrangements are. I show her the photos. I’m crying I’m saying I don’t want to be arrested – I just want my scooter and say why it helps me. She’s being nice to me and asking if I’m ok.
I’m taken to the station manager reception opposite. I’m taken into his office … explain the situation he leaves. When he returns I realise I’ve been locked in the office while I was sitting there.
He tells me can’t I get a bank statement?! I say again I’ve got my passport but why would I give them a photocopy of my bank statement. Excess Baggage staff have even told him what bank I use to the Station Manager as I realise I must of mentioned it to them. I try to explain why should I give them a bank statement to keep? He says something about tearing the address off to keep. He says something about not being allowed to take photographs.
He tells me he tried to ask for the item claiming station rights AND THEY REFUSED to give it to him. I have to take TWO FORMS OF ID WITH MY ADDRESS ON IT to get my scooter back. First it was a bank card, then a bank statement now it’s two items of ID!?
I’m allowed to leave, I’m relieved, I’m upset, I’m late for my freelance work. Fab people on twitter are sending support and another friend gets me on my mobile asking if she should come down to help.
VISIT FOUR – tomorrow
I have to go return, I’m taking my partner (another train fare – it’s up to
£21.05 £29.40 another fare to pay tomorrow (I have a disabled rail card so it’s 1/3 of what it should be instead of the tenner it usually is each time).
I’ve asked for the station manager to be present I don’t want more trouble or problems.
I just want my scooter back.
I just want EXCESS BAGGAGE COMPANY @excessbaggageco to apologise for their rudeness and my distress. I want them to give me MY scooter back, refund the cost of my rail journeys, update their website clearly and on national rail website so people don’t have the same crap I had. What’s the point of googling info if they don’t bother telling you what is required to collect lost property?
AND I just want my scooter back.
P.S. a friend asked Birmingham Moor Street Staff if photographs were allowed in the station. They told her yes but no flash (as is Virgin Trains policy as I’ve found out since).
P.P.S. Excess Baggage Company have confirmed today (Sat 15th) I only need a passport so if it’s good enough for Gatwick Airport it’s good enough for Birmingham New Street branch. I’m going in with FIVE forms of ID including a prescription from my doctor, driving license, passport and bills. Bit OTT but I’ll be dammed if I’m handing over my bank statement and they try to be obstructive again.
VISIT FIVE today Saturday 15th September
I’m armed with the FIVE forms of ID. As promised the Duty station manager yesterday arranged for today’s station manager to be available. He didn’t even make me wait he not only kindly walked across to Lost Property (this time a different staff member was on who was really nice). Not only did I get my scooter back but the Station Manager made sure I did not have to pay.
I gather yesterday’s Duty Manager was furious with them and it’s been taken up with the Area Manager. < GOOD!
Excess Baggage Company say on twitter they “love baggage shipping, luggage retail,finding lost property and reuniting it with the owners“.
So will they compensate me? That’s FIVE train journeys now up to £44.10 which doesn’t account for 10 hours to get there an back (50 od mins each way) that I’ve lost. Never mind the distress by their poor customer service? We will see.
Thursday 27th September – Excess Baggage Company contacted me today via the comments section of this blog so now have an email address to correspond with.