We know of the potential drawbacks of passengers leaving scurrilous and or derogatory comments on operators’ Facebook pages. Managers need to ensure that they’re constantly vigilant and respond appropriately and responsibly. But last week, there was a new twist. Company staff leaving inappropriate comments on Facebook that damage the reputation of their employer.
It’s bad enough mouthing off your employer while down the pub (hopefully not in uniform, either). Here, the audience is limited and might not understand or misconstrue the point you are making. They may forget what you’ve said. And a driver wouldn’t think of writing negatively to the local newspaper (unless, perhaps, they’re absolutely sure of anonymity). Why, then, would they comment on Facebook? It’s a highly visible forum where what’s said is a matter of record.
But then again, Facebook has always been an odd and dangerous place. You can easily lose your head. Think you’re in control of your own Facebook page? Thank again. *You* are the commodity, not the page itself. Facebook’s recently altered it TOS and they now own you. Forever. Even if you leave. It may be an urban myth but it’s said that people have to change their names to escape their Facebook past…
Anyway, back on message, the operator concerned took appropriate action by withdrawing the comments and by distancing themselves from any offence the original remarks undoubtedly caused. They suspended the staff concerned. It seems to me that the reason might well be alleged gross misconduct, if proven.
This was over a 40p increase in the fare Cornish older people pay before the 0930 free travel scheme starts. Understandably, passengers are less than happy with this. It’s true to say that “ordinary” passengers complain bitterly of even a 10p rise. 40p to a pensioner can be a considerable sum.
To blame the operator is unfair, of course, but it’s the only visible place to complain, even if the£1.70 concession is cheaper than an adult single. The operator need not offer this at all. The staff in question, presumably, felt that they might be defending their company’s position, by saying:
“F*** them, they get away lightly as it is”and
“B******s they are, make them pay full fare!!!!”
Now it may be that such words were said in jest. But they are still offensive. The words tend to reinforce the stereotype that drivers are miserable, uncaring and moan. In actual fact, drivers have little time to spend with the customer and this isn’t always conducive to a good image. Time was when conductors could easily do this PR role—though there were criticisms about them, too, from time to time. “Surly” is often the word used by passengers for drivers and normally passengers complain about attitudes on bus rather than online. Most of this is unfair and unjustified but it’s unfortunately a common perception
Not only do alleged comments like these therefore hinder the drivers’ cause, they reflect badly on the entire operation—other drivers and mangers.
i This post came to my attention from a similar one on Plymothian Transit