This week, VIA Rail released an offer to all young Canadians giving them the ability to purchase a ride pass for 150$. This ride pass entitled users to free and unlimited rail travel in the month of July. They wanted to offer the younger generation the ability to travel, via rail (heh), and experience Canada like past generations did. When I first heard of the offer I was amazed, 150$ to travel anywhere in Canada — basically — for free? What’s not to love about that? Well, everybody loved it! And so VIA Rail received thousands of demands for passes, apparently a lot more than they had hoped.
Everything was going smoothly, until people started having issues purchasing passes. So what does the younger generation do these days in order to get customer support? They go to Twitter and ask the company itself! But the beauty of Twitter is that these customer support interactions are all available to the public. Unlike phone-calls to the support department, anybody can see these tweets. With that, we got these responses from VIA Rail:
Alright, sweet, they’re just having some technical difficulties, I’ll be able to buy a pass once it’s figured out! Well, unfortunately, things didn’t go that way. VIA Rail then released this statement:
Now, that’s fine, it’s okay for a company to release a statement explaining the situation and why they can’t offer any more passes. However, the issue lies with their social media profile on twitter. The Twitter handle kept on saying that there were no limited quantities and that they would not run out of passes, and so did the original announcement. Were they simply trying to spin the situation to keep people calm? If so, it backfired. Who would have thought that lying would ever work in their favour? So on top of a blatant lack of communication, VIA Rail lied to their following, and they also mismanaged their original announcement by not stating a limit on the passes. So now, all these young people who were promised an incredible opportunity to finally experience rail travel, have had their dreams shattered by the very company who made the promise.
Unfortunately, in the end only about 4000 people will be able to take advantage of this opportunity. VIA Rail will have a long hill to climb trying to fix this issue. In fact they may even lose a large chunk of their following. Which is very unfortunate for a industry that is in decline. If you can’t keep your promise and give these people the opportunity to only spend 150$ to travel the country, how can you expect them to pay thousands of dollars for regular tickets?
Photos taken from Twitter and the VIA Rail Facebook page: