Saturday, May 01, 2010

Part Deux: The RESPONSE: Poor Maintenance + Incompentent Customer Service = A Bad Day at VIVA / York Region Transit

It has taken an attrocious 12 different e-mails between YRT's Rosanna Agostino (Supervisor, Customer Service) to figure out what occurred on YRT's end on that dreadful day of April 15th on my too and from work on YRT/VIVA as described in this post.
On April 15th I sent an e-mail to Rosanna Agostino and CC'd Phylis Morris (the Mayor of Aurora and Aurora's Regional Councillor) and other higher ups at YRT over the disgrace I had gone through that day as a YRT/VIVA passenger.

Rosanna responded on April 16th with my YRT Customer Service Ticket Tracking Numbers for both the incorrect time shown on the VIVA next bus digital display (i.e. the next bus should arrive in 2 minutes) and the missing VIVA Blue bus.  However, I she didn't give me a Tracking Number for the travails I went through on the YRT Customer Service phone system.  All she did was give me that a new phone system had been implemented.

On April 17th I replied that I wanted a YRT Customer Service Ticket Tracking number on the YRT Customer Service phone number by April the 19th.   After receving no response from Rosanna by 4:50 P.M on Monday April 19th, I then followed up with another e-mail requesting a YRT Customer Service tracking number or I would be filing a Freedom of Information (FOI) request through the Region of York.  On both e-mails, of course, I copied the Mayor of Aurora and other YRT Management. 

Sure enough I received a YRT Customer Service Tracking Number shortly before 7:00 P.M. on April 15th.

On April 21st I received an e-mail from Rosanna explaining all the issues and a few that provide some interesting notes into the operation of YRT/VIVA (the below is from Rosanna's e-mail from that day):

"The Viva Blue scheduled at Golf Links at 6:42am experienced a mechanical issue in Newmarket which resulted in the bus being taken out of service. Unfortunately, the driver did not log out of the system, therefore the VMS display at Golf Links did not reflect this updated information and continued to indicate the bus was due to arrive. We apologize for the inconvenience you were caused."

"With the implementation of any new technolgy or system (even though successfully tested in a development environment) there is a possibility that minor issues may occur, as you experienced when you attempted to contact our contact center the day of the launch. Those issues were immediately resolved. We thank you for your patience and apololgize for the inconvenience you were caused."

"With respect to the Viva fleet, normally 60 foot buses are assigned to Viva Blue; however, 40 foot buses may be assigned to the route to deal with routine service or unscheduled maintenance issues."
Note:  If you see 40 foot non articulated buses doing VIVA Blue routing, you can bet your life savings that there is a shortage of 60 foot articulated VIVA Buses being repaired.  This despite these buses, at the very earliest, were only put into service in 2005.  Yet the TTC can seem to keep their buses on the road in some cases for over 20 years!

"There are a number of indication lights on the dashboard of a Viva bus. Please be assured all buses are checked and serviced daily. In addition, bus drivers are required to conduct a circle check prior to going into service to determine if there are any concerns. The identified maintenance issues are corrected before the bus enters service. There may be times that a failure occurs on route and the bus is taken out of service if required. The warning light you witnessed may also include minor issues such as a burnt out interior light which would be attended to once the bus returns to the yard."  Note: Hmmm...Rosanna, your management buddies need to get on the 5200 series VIVA numbered busses.  99% of these I've been on have a green wrench indicator lit up worse than a Las Vegas Casino.  And why then, with your noted information above on 40 Foot buses did I see two or three of them that day?   Me thinks the 60 foot articulated buses have some severe maintenance issues. 
I followed up with Rosanna again on April 21st on the YRT Customer Service Centre phone system installaion.  On her e-mail she noted that the new phone system was tested in a "development environment".   This sounded like they hooked up the new phone system in a white coat science lab setting and tested it and then ripped it apart and put into the YRT Customer Service Centre and flicked the switch on the Thursday Morning at 7:00 A.M. and had a bunch of techies watch the YRT Customer Service Agents stare at their phones to see if the darn thing worked. There wasn't any indication there was testing done before the YRT Customer Service Call Centre had the new system installed but before they opened for business.  So I asked, in the e-mail, if after the YRT Customer Service closed on the Wednesdnay evening and the new phone system was installed if there was any testing completed BEFORE they opened on the Thursday morning.
Rosanna in an e-mail dated April 27th, of course continuing to copy the Mayor of Aurora and the other YRT Upper management, answered with:
"In response to your inquiry regarding our telephone system, please be advised that once the new telephone system was installed, York Region’s Information Technology (IT) staff continued the testing process in the live environment.

On April 15, 2010, IT staff were onsite to monitor and resolve any technical issues that occurred. They were also providing support to our contact centre staff while they transitioned to the new system."
Um...that didn't even come close to answering the question, so on the same day in an e-mail I tried to clarify what I was asking point blank:
Simple question that wasn't answered:

"When I refer to "testing", I didn't mean pretested in a development environment. I was referring to following installation before the YRT Customer Call Centre opened. Did this occur?"

To make it simpler here is what I'm saying (full steps included):

1. YRT Customer Service closed on Wednesday evening at 7:00 P.M.

2. Technical Support moved in and set up the new phone system.

4. YRT Customer Service opened at 7:00 A.M. on Thursday and Tech Support continued to provided support.

Now for the question:

On April 27th, Rosanna responded with:

Michael; you're obviously not understanding what I have told you. In order to test the telephone system "live" it must be done during our regular business hours when we are open to the public. As I stated in previous e-mails, the system underwent thorough testing in our development and live environment.

She planely wanted to avoid answering a simple "Yes" or "No" question.  She could have simply said "yes the system was tested after installation as best as possible before going live.  OR "No the system wasn't tested after installation before going live but we will try next time to try this.  I would have been satisfied with either of these answers.  She blatently tried to tell me that I didn't understand a thing about Customer Service phone systems and that they must be tried live. 

Well Rosanna, I've got news for you. I happen to deal with phone systems and other technology at work. I've dealt with experts in the field of phone systems and data collection.   You have to be creative to test the systems and try it before your customers do or see results.   Remember your phone system is one of the main front lines of your Customer Service Department, so it better be fully tested before you turn it on live!   Apparently this wasn't done at YRT.  

Since Rosanna refused to give me answer after I asked no less than two times I sent this e-mail to Rosanna (Remember she is the Region of York's YRT Supervisor of Customer Service) with the answer that I got to my Customer Service Phone system Question:


I asked a very pointed question that you've refused to answer. You've skipped around it more than once by saying the system was tested in the design phase (i.e. before it was installed) and Tech Support provided support after it went live. However, you refused to answer whether it was tested after installation before going live (i.e. before YRT Customer Service opened in the morning at 7:00 A.M. on the Thursday). I've given you at least two times to answer it and you refused to do so.

So the answer to my question, I assume then, is "NO" it wasn't tested after being installed for live service for business hours on the Thursday.

I will assume this answer as you've refused to answer my question with a "Yes" or "No" answer.

Again, here is what you refused to answer from the last e-mail:


Simple question that wasn't answered:


To make it simpler here is what I'm saying (full steps included):

1. YRT Customer Service closed on Wednesday evening at 7:00 P.M.

2. Technical Support moved in and set up the new phone system.

 4. YRT Customer Service opened at 7:00 A.M. on Thursday and Tech Support continued to provided support.

Now for the question:



Thanks for providing an answer via not giving an answer. I can read between the lines that you refuse to answer the above question.

In other words, YRT/VIVA Management, via Rosanna's refusal to answer my question, have said they didn't test the new YRT Customer Service phone system following installation but before going live. 
With awesome Customer Service like this, it is no wonder some YRT riders believe YRT Customer Service and Management don't care.

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