TOKYO: In what is being termed as the ‘most loyal customer care’ service, a Japanese rail company has apologized to its passengers after a train departed 20 seconds ‘too early’
The train was scheduled to depart at 9:44 am on Tuesday morning (local time), but an over-eager conductor let it go instead at 9:43:40. The incident happened at Minami Nagareyama station on the line connecting two towns 60 kilometres apart.
“We deeply apologise for causing tremendous nuisance to customers,” said the Tsukuba Express company.
“There was no complaint from customers over this incident,” said the firm, which added that no one missed the train due to the premature departure.
The trip takes 45 minutes, so travellers might expect a 20-second margin of error to fall within acceptable limits.
They could contrast with Sydney trains, which defines being “on time” if the train leaves within five minutes of its scheduled departure.
In its formal apology issued later the same day, Tsukuba Express management noted “the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers”.
“The fact that Japanese companies care so much about customer satisfaction, consistently try to look at things from the end-users’ point of view, and are willing to offer a sincere apology — even for understandable inconveniences is, really, one of the most beautiful parts of Japanese society, and one of my favourite things about living here,” said the Californian, who now lives and works in Japan.
So an apology was issued because a train in Japan left twenty seconds early
In the UK you barely get an apology even if half the trains are running
— Alex Berry (@yrrebRBLX) November 16, 2017
Frustrated commuters from other countries have retweeted Basel’s article and prodded their own train companies to take note, with comments like: “read; weep; read; laugh”.
Japanese commuters enjoy a train service noted for its efficiency and punctuality. Any passengers at Minami Nagareyama who missed their train because of the error need only have waited four minutes for the next one to arrive.