I AM the holder of a c2c rail “Smartcard”.

I am a “zero-hours” worker; I do not have regular working hours and work on an “on-call” basis, mostly in central London.

In my situation a normal season ticket isn’t appropriate so I have to have a “Flexi-Season” ticket; you have to buy 10 tickets and “load” them on to the card, using them when appropriate.

Unlike Transport for London’s “Oyster” system, the tickets can only be “Loaded” via a computer, NOT at the ticket machine at the station.

For the past month, c2c’s online ticket-purchase system has been unavailable; anybody trying to buy a ticket of any description online has been confronted with an “apology” and told they must go to the station to buy their ticket. Since flexi- seasons cannot be purchased at the station the unhappy traveller is forced to buy an “Anytime return” every day that they want to travel, which is more expensive.

I travel from Tilbury Town station; since the opening of Amazon’s warehouse in Tilbury, there are thousands of Amazon workers (their nightshift) trying to get home to London (where most of them live) trying to buy tickets from the ticket office from the moment the station opens at 5am. The ticket machines cannot cope with the numbers, and both of them run out of tickets within minutes of the station opening.

If you telephone c2c (using the number on the back of the smartcard) you get put through to a call-centre in Scotland; the call-centre personnel each handle callers from customers of many other companies and know nothing about c2c rail or its customers; my frequent enquiries about how to deal with the situation have been met with fatuous suggestions (from “try using another computer” to “try purchasing a ticket for only part of the journey”), or I have been left on hold (for up to an hour) until I have given up.

C2c claim that this situation is due to a “computer upgrade”; this is ridiculous; no upgrade takes this long, an upgrade usually involves installing a new programme, which involves putting a new DVD in and pressing a button, an operation taking a few seconds at most.

There is something much more serious and fundamentally wrong at c2c, or else its personnel are so inexcusably or blitheringly incompetent that they should be dismissed immediately; failing that, the company ought to be renationalised without compensation and without delay, and all the staff they dismissed upon privatisation should be re-engaged (for whetever salary they may demand) so that they can clean up the mess made by the current management.

TREVOR MILLAR Dryden Place, Tilbury