South West Trains: Some Sympathy Please!

Alistair Coleman, author of the award-winning Scary Duck blog, whose letter ‘The Wreck‘ also features on DCR’s ‘Best Ever Complaint Letters’ page, has been at it again. Alistair kindly sent DCR another funny complaint letter, this time  to South West Trains.  

Alistair sets the scene: “Bad things happened to me yesterday. Bad things, which involved rich, brown vomit and the actual feeling on the 08:12 from Fleet to London Waterloo that I was not long for this world.
My pleas for help ignored, I reacted in the only way I know how: The writing of a letter of complaint deploying the twin weapons of SARCASM and BADLY-PHOTOSHOPPED IMAGES:

Dear South West Trains,

Congratulations on being the number one train franchise in the south west!  However, before you rest on your laurels, I must write to complain about my journey today.

Warning: Contains vomit (me), pain (me), and dreadful customer service (you).

I had the misfortune of falling ill on my journey from Fleet to London Waterloo this morning. On arriving in the metropolis, having spent much of the commute locked in a toilet, bowking rich, brown vomit down the previously immaculately clean pan, I approached a member of station staff to seek assistance.

I might point out that I was clearly and visibly unwell at this time, bent double in pain, and sweating like a priest outside a boys’ dormitory, my second-best shirt hanging off me like damp rags. However, my request for help and directions to a first aid post were met with a stout refusal. Here is an artist’s impression of the encounter for illustrative purposes which you may find useful.


south west trains 02


All I wanted was somewhere quiet to sit down (preferably in close proximity to a toilet and/or a bucket) whilst I contemplated the futility of my existence.  The presence of a large-bosomed nurse offering me sympathy and lashings of sweetened tea was purely optional.

Instead, I was told “We’re not a doctor’s surgery, you know” and “there’s a taxi rank out front, they’ll get you to St Thomas’s (hospital).”  This is, I am sure you will agree, not the response I expected from your staff, and the kind of Premier League muppetry that gives businesses like yours a bad name.  That name being “bunch of useless muppets”.

Angry, unwell and confused, I instead abandoned my journey, got on the next service to Fleet and returned home.

Unfortunately, I did not have sufficient wits about me to record the name of this member of staff.  All I can remember is that he had the air of Aleksandr Orlov about him, the celebrity meerkat from the popular Compare The Markets advertisements, except balding on top and with glasses.  More like hapless meerkat computer-me-bob boffin Sergei, then.  I’ve made a police-style e-fit for you, if it helps.



If I were a gentleman, I would offer this cur the chance to redeem himself in the traditional manner (Dawn, St James’s Park, pistols, the loser being dragged around town on a hurdle); but in this modern age, a mere apology, and the words “clear training need” would suffice.

And free tickets to the moon, obviously.

While I describe my misfortune to you with good grace, I was shocked by the lack of cooperation given to a clearly unwell customer. Sort it out.

Be lucky.

Your new pal,

Albert O’Balsam1

  1. For American readers: In case you are unfamiliar, Alberto Balsam is a shampoo manufactured by Unilever UK 

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