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well was I?

(39 Posts)
THECliffRichardSucksEggsinHell Tue 17-Dec-13 18:13:14

dd gets a taxi to and from school along with other local kids funded by the local council transport team. This taxi company apparently won the contract just this year, previously it had been a mini-bus company.

Anyway, if for some reason dd isn't going to take the taxi either way, I always let the company know so they aren't waiting for her.

Once the company drove off without two local girls after waiting for just 2 minutes because he had to pick up someone from another village. Luckily he drove back that way and saw the girls walking along a dangerous stretch of country road and stopped to pick them up.

Another time dd told me that the driver who takes them on Monday mornings, who is usually, in her words, hungover, once acted like he was drunk and started weaving the car across the road in time to the music on the radio.

That time I phoned the company, explained my fears but didn't make an official complaint because I was happy they had taken me seriously and would make sure it didn't happen again. There was no real evidence he was drunk and I didn't want him to lose his job over one stupid moment.

Today dd told me that the taxi had set off from school without her. She was a few minutes late because she had to make her way back to her cooking classroom to pick up her cooking. When she got out the taxi was gone. She went into Pupil Reception who phoned me first (I was out picking up ds) and then the taxi company who had to get the taxi to turn round and collect her.

I called them when she told me so that I could explain why she was late and that she would normally let them know if ever she wasn't going to be there. The woman on the other end of the phone was obviously very defensive from the start, I think she had presumed I was about to launch into a complaint although to be fair, it should have been obvious from the start that I was doing no such thing (friendly tone of voice, kept telling her that I agree, etc).

She was rude throughout the conversation. Told me that they are only meant to wait for pupils for 5 minutes and the driver had waited for 6 minutes and because he had to go back for her, he was late for all his other appointments and if I wanted to complain I should ring the council. I kept telling her that she was misunderstanding me and that I wasn't blaming them at all, I was just calling to explain why she was late and really for some reassurance that they wouldn't leave her stranded at school with no other way home, although I never actually got the chance to say that last bit.

In the end she was so aggressive I put the phone down. I then phoned the council to make an official complaint.

I'm taken aback by her response and wonder if I am being unreasonable? Obviously dd WAS late, by her own admission, but I was trying to explain that there was a genuine reason for that - she just kept saying how were they to know and they can't wait forever. I understood that but in the end it was clear she wasn't listening to a word I was trying to say.

I'm now worried in case dd suffers repercussions from the taxi company and given the previous problems, I wonder if I should try and make alternative arrangements for her? Or even tell the council the whole story (I've only told them what happened today)

THECliffRichardSucksEggsinHell Tue 17-Dec-13 18:21:22

Sorry, that's a bit long isn't it?

Shesalwaysright Tue 17-Dec-13 18:21:59

It seems to me that if the local council rules are that they wait five minutes and your daughter was later than that, then YABU. Waiting has a knock on effect on all the other children. If it's a private taxi service that you are paying for, then you get to set the rules, of course. If I have to pay for a taxi then I have to pay for waiting time as a private individual.

The taxi company may be trying to deal with tens if not hundres of children every afternoon. It's not a private chauffeur service. And I suspect that if your DD is later than the required five minutes they are NOT obliged to get her home. The LEA which pays for her is also under an obligation to obtain value for money in its contracts, and is probably spending thousands of pounds each year on taxi services. How much more would they have to pay if they have to build in all that extra waiting time?

If your DD wasn't five minutes or more late, then that's another story, of course.

NigellaLaw5on Tue 17-Dec-13 18:22:22

It's no wonder councils are financial basket cases when they're paying for taxis to get children to school. Why aren't the parents responsible for their children getting to school?

THECliffRichardSucksEggsinHell Tue 17-Dec-13 18:23:31

In a nutshell then, taxi company drove off from school without picking up dd after she was late because she had to collect her cooking stuff. Never happened before. Company have had previous problems.

I phone up company to explain why she was late and received instead a very aggressive and hostile response.

Was I being unreasonable in calling them in the first place? Are they right to have a go at me for dd being late and resulting in them being late for subsequent appointments?

DoesntLeftoverTurkeySoupDragOn Tue 17-Dec-13 18:24:48

Nigella, are you always this rude?

RandomMess Tue 17-Dec-13 18:26:01

You need unreasonable to complain about the way you were spoken to.

I think you also need to approach the school and ensure that your dd is not made late for whatever reason - what year is she in? It's difficult with cooking if it has to be kept in the fridge confused - could she have collected it in between her 2 last lessons?

Charmingbaker Tue 17-Dec-13 18:26:17

I used to get the coach to school when I was a teen. If we were late morning or afternoon it left without us, didn't matter why.

Tinks42 Tue 17-Dec-13 18:26:48

Well I'd have made an official complaint about the taxi driver weaving across the road to the music myself and just because it is a free service it doesn't mean it should be a "bad" service and under no circumstances should the controller have been rude on the phone. You sound like a very nice well balanced woman who has done the right thing.

hobnobsaremyfave Tue 17-Dec-13 18:27:26

Nigellas posting style in general could be descibed as rude yes.

THECliffRichardSucksEggsinHell Tue 17-Dec-13 18:28:15

Er thanks Nigella?

It's school transport. There are several children who live on this estate and all qualify for free school transport. They all get taken to and from school by this company. Paid for by the council. So sorry that we can't afford to take her ourselves. The route is 3 miles along a very fast country lane that is unsafe to walk along. I don't always have access to a car and walk the mile into our village and back every day with ds.

dd was 6 minutes late according to them and that's not really my complaint. I can understand them not waiting forever, of course it has a knock-on effect. I wasn't complaining.

I phoned to explain why she was late and to reassure them that she would never normally be late (never has before) and would always let them know if she was ever not going to be there (which I always have done).

I was not phoning to complain or to blame. I understand, my dd was late, I took the blame. But the lady on the phone was nevertheless rude and aggressive and obnoxious despite me being polite and courteous and friendly and apologetic.

thebody Tue 17-Dec-13 18:31:24

hi op, all of my children had/ have school taxi service in our area.

had a few problems as dd 1 is terrified of speed and she said driver was speeding and once smoked.

called the local authority who sorted it.

serious concerns then I would go to the police.

they are providing a service and are paid for it.

nigella in our authority it's free transport for child if they go to the catchment school that is more than 3 miles away and has a dangerous journey I.e no pavement.

we then don't have the mad school runs clogging up the roads, dreadful parking and it's better for the environment.

Smartiepants79 Tue 17-Dec-13 18:32:38

I'm presuming you get transport as you have been given a school place outside your catchment that was not your choice?
The rudeness was very unnecessary.
But I agree with others that she needs to ensure she is there on time to be picked up. You need to think if it like a bus on a timetable rather than a private taxi service. If she's late she's missed it.

thebody Tue 17-Dec-13 18:32:52

op complain about her attitude.

THECliffRichardSucksEggsinHell Tue 17-Dec-13 18:33:02

My complaint is about how I was treated on the phone.

Thanks RandomMess and Tinks.

It IS difficult. She does cooking in the morning and their things are then locked in the classroom so no-one can pinch them. The classroom is unlocked after school so they can collecting the things they have made.

Normally she is not late, never has been, not once. She's an anxious girl and always tries to be on time. This is what I wanted to explain to them, that she does not make a habit of it and wasn't late for no good reason.

I will perhaps explain to the school but I don't think there is much they can do. These things happen from time to time.

I understood fully their point but was really taken aback by their attitude on the phone. Then when I thought about previous issues with them I started to get really cross. Thought I'd ask for other opinions on what others would have done?

thebody Tue 17-Dec-13 18:33:50

smart in our authority you only get transport if you DO go in catchment.

THECliffRichardSucksEggsinHell Tue 17-Dec-13 18:37:12

The school is within the catchment area. We get free transport because we are on tax credits and qualify. We also have no reliable transport of our own. (not that I should try and justify why we get free school transport)

Again, I understand that drivers cannot wait for children who are late for whatever reason. This I get, I honestly do.

That is not why I was calling them. It was not a complaint.

I was phoning to see what happened, how late she was and to offer them an explanation and apology. I wanted to do this so they would know that dd is not normally late and would be aware of this in case anything like it happened again.

As I said, if she doesn't get picked up then I have no other way of getting her home. There is no bus service here. So it pays for me to stay on the right side of the taxi service and that is what I was trying to do.

CiderBomb Tue 17-Dec-13 18:40:26

Im a school escort, I work in the taxis taking the children to and from school.

We have a three minute rule in place. This was issued by the council, not me or the taxi companies and we have to stick to it if there are other children on the run. It's simply not fair to make other kids either late for school or late home when they've made the effort to be ready on time.

Some drivers will be a bit more flexible and wait a bit longer at their own discretion, however they also have a job to do and they are not a personal chauffeur service as many parents seem to think.

THECliffRichardSucksEggsinHell Tue 17-Dec-13 18:43:55

CiderBomb and others - please please please read my posts in their entireity.


This is exactly the attitude I was up against on the phone. I can see now that the woman only heard what she wanted too, much as some posters only read what they want to.

I should have just left it instead of trying to do the right thing and offer up an explanation.

RandomMess Tue 17-Dec-13 18:46:55

Although your post is not about the cooking collection perhaps from now on she will have to forgo collect her cooking and let her friends have it?

I get so frustrated when you phone people to try and resolve thing (ie not complaining) and get that sort of attitude back.

Charmingbaker Tue 17-Dec-13 18:49:34

The issues the lady in the taxi raised were valid, it is likely that the taxi driver (and company) will have lost an alternative job. The taxi driver essentially has done 2 jobs for 1 fare in the week before Christmas. However, they did return and collect your daughter. Rather than be cross that an employ was a bit rude, I think you should be thanking the company that they did get your daughter home. If it was a coach company doing the job I doubt you would have received the same service.

THECliffRichardSucksEggsinHell Tue 17-Dec-13 18:49:50

Thank you RandomMess yes I was trying to resolve it, dd said the drive was very annoyed and I figured it paid to keep on their right side just in case this issue crops up again.

I wanted them to know that she had a reason, she wasn't just gossiping and I wanted to reassure them that she would never normally be late or ever miss the taxi without telling them. We've always told them if she wasn't going to be there, we've never once left them waiting. That's because I do try hard to do the right thing by people and I hate it when that is misunderstood or taken the wrong way.

lougle Tue 17-Dec-13 18:50:11

I think you're right there, OP.

You're saying 'I know she's late and I'm not complaining, etc.' but then you go on to say that the reason you were phoning was partly to assure them that she would 'let them know' if she wouldn't be there, implying that they should wait if she happens to be late otherwise.

Our County also has a 3 minute rule.

I think it's great that you phoned to apologise/explain. I think that you muddied the waters by trying to reassure them.

I also think that your best course of action now is to contact the school and say 'DD almost missed her transport because she had to go and get her cooking. Is it possible that she could be released from class early to collect it so that she definitely doesn't miss transport, please?'

CiderBomb Tue 17-Dec-13 18:51:51

OP do you have the mobile numbers of the driver or the escort? It's far better to deal with them directly than someone running the switchboard at the taxi offices, as they can in my experience be off hand and rude. I've had a fair few run ins with them myself.

Some taxi companies are fabulous. There is however one in my town who myself and many of the escorts refuse to work with because they are so appallingly unprofessional, but that's another story.

THECliffRichardSucksEggsinHell Tue 17-Dec-13 18:52:18

Charmingbaker I doubt a coach company would have got away with weaving across the road, with several children on board, whilst singing aloud to the music on the radio and acting in an unusual manner (leading dd to say he might have been drunk).

Most people would have taken that further and lost that man his job. I didn't.

I don't expect them to do anything over and above giving us a good service. That is why I wanted to call them to explain what happened.

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