For once let me translate the word “event” according to its etymology – I will use it just to express “what happens”.

Given that I think it is an event (maybe it’s just a feeling, but on Google I find more than a confirmation) that the Wi-Fi connection on the Italian hi-speed trains works, when travelling by train you get impressed by other things.

We leave Rome with more than a half-an-hour delay. No one feels the slightest need to explain why. Then the doors close and the journey starts, but suddenly the train stops again before Tiburtina (i.e. still in Rome), with no one explaining why as well. On the other hand, however, the amplifier is functioning well to announce that the restaurant service is active in the middle of the train, that Trenitalia is pleased to welcome on board, that in a few minutes a food service will begin, kindly offered to those travelling in business class.

Nothing is so exhausting and oppressive as the lack of explanation and the endless waiting – which turns even worse when there is no way out (and I really mean it: the train doors were blocked in an area where it was impossible to get off). It’s something that the event organizers learn quickly. And they furthermore learn that communication is key to keeping calm people, who otherwise, in a closed environment, feeling oppressed, could give in to dangerous behaviours while trying to get out. Luckily this doesn’t happen on a train, where complaints and resignation play a leading role.

At that point, switched off the not-working Wi-Fi connection, I decide to look for news on the railway website. And I finally find out that there is a technical failure on the electricity grid. I inform first of all my fellow mates and then Twitter. A few minutes later, someone suggests the conductor should make an announcement.

And a new event comes up: comedy. Run down by a power too strong to him, or perhaps excited by the task of explaining – microphone in hand – the situation, the announcer tells the travellers that due to a technical failure they will have a 90-minute “time waste” (which at the end will turn 108-minute). Meanwhile, to appease the protests, Trenitalia sends a trolley bar with a glass of water per person – woe asking for a sandwich, either free or not. Politely, but firmly, the staff people suggest that if you’re hungry, you should go to bar wagon at the middle of the train.

The train finally manages to overcome the technical fault and, with a 2-hour delay, it reaches Milan, where we arrive late in the evening. And here comes the latest slur by a company not only giving poor service – paid for by citizens’ money as well – but also making fun of you even when it admits its mistakes. Ok, the admission is a remarkable event in itself, but…

The usual announcement informs travellers they may ask for reimbursement of part or all of the ticket depending on class, minutes of delay and a series of clauses especially made not to make them understand what they are entitled to, as well as to protect the company of course, which is well aware of its shortcomings. And actually it doesn’t refund the entire ticket cash (as properly does Ikea asking you to choose whether you want your money back or a voucher), but, at least in part, by gift certificates usable for other trips. These genial Trenitalia marketers seem to think that a customer, when unhappy of a service, instead of wishing for a refund just can’t wait for another trip with the same company seizing him/her without feeling the need to explain anything.

Well, this is an event too. Grotesque. Or ridiculous.


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