Photo by Jason Wieler

An unbelievable scenario is percolating between Toronto, Canada transit riders and the Toronto Transit Commission workers resulting in a social media battle between riders and unionized workers. Add in a sex scandal by the chairman of the Toronto Transit Commission and you have the makings of a customer satisfaction twitstorm.

It started in late 2009 with an announced fare increase, coming in the new year. Toronto transit sells metal tokens as tickets as they have machines that accept the tokens at entrances to minimize staffing requirements. Tokens could be bought in groupings of 5 or 10, that provided a small discount on the cash fare price.  With the  announcement of a fare increase, well in advance of the date when the increase would become effective, people began hoarding tokens. The Toronto Transit commission aggravated riders by running out of tokens and forcing everyone who didn’t have one to pay a higher cash fare. This did not sit well with consumers.

One consumer, Jason Weiler, armed with a cell phone camera snapped a picture of a transit ticket collector asleep at his post around 9:45 pm. The picture went viral.

Other pictures of sleeping transit workers emerged. Next to surface was a video of a transit worker taking an unscheduled washroom and coffee break leaving passengers fuming on the bus. These went viral and the newspapers picked them up. Then came the service disruptions.

Consumers were clearly dissatisfied with the fare increase especially with sleeping workers and poor customer service.

Reaction by Toronto Transit Authorities

After pressure from the public, the Transit commission produced paper tickets that could be bought in groups of 5 or 10 for a reduced fare. After the date of the price increase, the tickets could still be used but only with a $0.25 extra fare.  But they made those tickets expire at the end of January. This caused a shouting match at a ticket booth when a customer couldn’t use the old ticket with any payment.

Toronto Transit Authorities were hard on the affected workers. A harshly worded memo came from the Chief General Manager, Gary Webster He wrote: “We are in the customer service business, but some of the behavior our customers have encountered recently would suggest otherwise” “Our Customers pay a fare and the city provides hundreds of millions of dollars every year to the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). This public transit agency belongs to the very people we serve. “As Chief General Manager, I am ultimately accountable to our customers. As employees, you – and you alone – are accountable for your actions”

Reaction of the Transit Workers

Workers didn’t like the fact that they were now operating under a microscope. Anyone with a cell phone could catch them making a mistake performing their duties.

Workers created a Facebook group ‘ Toronto Transit Operators against public harassment‘. Workers discussed possible work to rule campaigns and commiserated about the lack of respect they were getting from the public, the press and their own management. Then they got the bright idea that they would turn the table on the delinquent riders by capturing footage of them breaking the transit system rules. Photos were posted showing littering in the transit vehicles, graffiti, stains on station walls and riders with their feet on the seats. When the public got wind of this facebook page, things got ugly. That Facebook page is now closed to the public.

City of Toronto Leadership distracted

The next day, a story appeared on the front page of the Toronto Star that the chair of the Toronto Transit Commission on Toronto City Council had an ‘inappropriate’ contact with a woman. Adam Giambrone is also running as a candidate for the Mayor of Toronto. He has a live- in partner who he has introduced to the public. It now appears he also has a relationship on the ‘side’. When he officially announced his candidacy as mayor, he introduced his live in partner. and not unexpectedly, that didn’t sit well with his mistress, who has gone public.

I expect some ‘leadership’ questions to emerge concerning Giambrone: leadership of the organization responsible for investing millions of taxpayers money to support the Toronto transit system and the personal leadership qualities (eg integrity)  of someone aspiring to be Mayor of  the City of Toronto.

Stay tuned for more.

This is a Twitstorm in the making.

Here  are  articles (with more pictures) on this subject:

TTC riders, staff in angry Facebook battle,

TTC Manager demands better from employees

Sick Transit – furor won’t cure it

Adam Giambrone apologizes for ‘inappropriate’ contact with woman

Snap of Napping Ticket Collector causes kerfuffle

Second photo emerges of another alleged TTC napper

We catch TTC rider, fare taker in scream match

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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

8 Responses to “Customer Satisfaction revolt – Facebook faceoff”

  1. Frank Brinkman Says:

    I am surprised that the US media has not picked up this story.. They love the drama.. You are right… Watch this space.. There is more to come.. Thank you for sharing it..

  2. Elie Kochman on Business and Networking » Are Your Customers Happy? Says:

    […] she discusses changes that are happening in this field, for example, looking at the same TTC incident I mentioned […]

  3. Customer Satisfaction meets the Cell Phone Camera | Customer Satisfaction and Reputation Management Says:

    […] an earlier blog post, I wrote about a transit ticket workers were caught sleeping on the job by riders with cell […]

  4. How to handle customer satisfaction issues - Public Forums | Customer Satisfaction and Reputation Management Says:

    […] for updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginIn a recent blog post called Customer Satisfaction revolt – Facebook Faceoff the Toronto Transit Commission were at war with  transit users. The Union of Transit Workers has […]

  5. The bat Says:

    TTC collector caught napping died He was very sick congratulations to all you net lugans take a pic in steed of helping

  6. Adele Says:

    You are absolutely right. Sadly the TTC collector caught napping had a medical problem. Subsequently, the man died. Later posts addressed this sad fact. But at the time this post was written, those facts were unknown and the public was outraged at the TTC and the collector asleep at his desk was the poster child for what appeared to be mismanagement by the TTC.

  7. wifey Says:

    well said ‘the bat’, my hubby works contract for the city and is now being told to eat his lunch on the go while driving his standard truck pulling a chipper so that he doesn’t get his picture taken having his lunch in his truck as there is now a website for the public to take pic’s and snitch. Disgusting and to all those people who have nothing better to do than harass hard working men and women I hope you can live with yourselves. seems ironic that you can’t talk and drive yet the city wants you to operate heavy vehicles and eat!!!!

  8. Adele Says:

    Thank you for your comment.

    If a city employee is being asked to do something illegal or to hide something as essential as eating lunch, I think a well placed tip to the media in your city would end that practice quickly once it was exposed. City officials have a requirement to obey the laws they set for others. Some manager in the city organization will need to be reminded of that. I am sure the city officials be appalled to learn that one of their managers has set up this regulation. The city government officials are elected so they know they are accountable to voters. Get this issue to the press.

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