Misc

I hate motoway service stations

I hate motorway service stations. Even the new one at Norton Canes on the M6-Toll just caused irritation. Also the service station that I used to like stopping at, because it was just different, at Tebay in the Lake District was poor.

So, what is the problem with all these services stations?

First they are all pretty much alike (except Tebay, which at least has some character). Now, I don’t mind identikit facilities if they supply what I want, but they pretty much don’t.

On a long drive I’ll have to stop for a meal at some point, yesterday I managed to wait until I got to Tebay for my evening meal and by that point I was really quite hungry. They at least supplied a decent meal although not my preferred choice (my choice of Chilli con Carne with Chips was really the best of a bad bunch) I had to wait a few minutes, as did others for the chips, but once I sat down it was actually acceptable. My main problem with food at service stations is the amount of stodgy high carb food they serve. And the more carbs you eat the more the body has to work to process them causing drowsiness – For someone driving alone this is not good. I try and avoid those food but often there is just no choice. A programme I saw last year the MD of one of the motorway service companies was saying they supplied what the public wants. Well, this member of the public does NOT want food that will make him fall asleep at the wheel. I want a decent meal, but one which won’t make me drowsy.

Next up is the price of everything. Once at the service station they’ve got you. If you don’t know the local area you are not going to wander off to find something better priced. If you are in a hurry you are not going to go off the motorway to find a better priced place for lunch. Given the poor quality of everything and the amount of people passing through they must be raking it in.

If I don’t have any passengers in the car to talk to then I like to listen to audio books. Unfortunately, if the selection I take with me runs out I have a look at what the service stations offer, and it isn’t much. A selection of has-been comedians and abridged populist novels. In short, there is practically nothing of worth in the selection. Even with it being the release of the final Harry Potter book last week, I would have expected to see the audio book of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows somewhere.

Finally, the general cleanliness of the service stations leaves a lot to be desired. Some are okay, like Norton Caines and Oxford because they are quite new. But even those really need to work on getting the state of the toilets up to a good standard. Often I find that cubicle doors have broken locks which need to be fixed, wash basins are filled with dirty water, there are never enough hand driers.

The one posititive thing I will say is that you can at least buy Irn-Bru in all the service stations I stopped at, even the ones in the south of England.

Just to enumerate the service stations I stopped at on my trip to Maidenhead and back:

  • Southbound
    • Abington
      • Refueled
      • Bought snacks
    • Keele
      • Looked for dinner (failed – nothing looked nice)
    • Norton Canes
      • Got dinner (turned out to be dried out chicken, yet it was from a brand new batch!)
      • Refuelled
  • Northbound
    • Oxford
      • Used toilets
      • Looked for audio book (failed)
    • Norton Canes
      • Used toilets
      • Looked for audio book (failed)
      • Refuelled
    • Burton-in-Kendal
      • Looked for audio book (failed)
      • Looked for food (failed – all looked poor quality)
    • Tebay
      • Looked for audio book (failed)
      • Got dinner (passable chilli con carne)
      • Used toilets (three attempts to find a usable cubicle – but there was a plumber trying to fix them)

I stopped a couple of other places on each journey to buy drinks and use the facilities, but I don’t recall which service stations they were.

I’m also sending an email to each of these service stations to afford them a right-of-reply.

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7 thoughts on “I hate motoway service stations

  1. First response from any of the MSAs was from Moto who run Burton-in-Kendal. That is actually quite good. It isn’t difficult to set up an auto-responder and it at least lets the customer know that the email (or feedback) for arrived.Meanwhile, the email address on the Roadchef website for Norton Canes failed to get through – It appears the email address doesn’t actually exists. Oh dear!

  2. I feel your pain. Things are improving, but not as quickly as they should. Sometimes you’ve got to make exceptions – most notably with hygiene – as both you and the operator don’t know who’s used the facilities before you and what state they’ve been left in. This, in my eyes, is only a call for more regular cleaning at peak times.As for food, I find it’s best to lose your reputation and go for KFC or Burger King, and then work it off when you get home. It’s a lot better than later finding yourself in a traffic jam with food poisoning.All this is why I set up my site, Motorway Services Online as a sort of online guide to motorway services. I’d welcome your reviews from any experiences you have, as I feel the only way to get our word through to the operators is when they realise which services get all the visitors and which ones we’re all boycotting.

  3. It is almost a week since this post went up – An entire business week for any of the service companies to respond and, other than one auto-response message, I’ve received nothing. The auto-responder from Moto said “One of our customer services team will process your feedback, and if necessary contact you shortly.” I guess they didn’t feel it was necessary to explain why their food looked so poor quality that I felt it necessary to just get back in my car and keep going.

  4. the plumber at tebay was bad luck, you can hardly complain about lack of maintenance and existence of maintenance in the same review? Most services are kept in a much cleaner state than public transport stations. don’t expect airport business lounge quality because you won’t get it. If even tebay isn’t good enough for you, with its farm shop and locally sourced produce, then to be honest you should just tell your limousine chauffeur not to stop at services at all .

  5. @ste Yes, it was bad luck at Tebay, I didn’t say otherwise.With regard to you asking “you can hardly complain about lack of maintenance and existence of maintenance in the same review?”. Yes, I can. Especially when they pertain to different service stations. Tebay was having maintenance done to it, the others were not.You said “Most services are kept in a much cleaner state than public transport stations. don’t expect airport business lounge quality because you won’t get it.”Now who’s being contradictive? Airports are a form of public transport station. Any why shouldn’t I expect Airport quality toilets in a motorway service area. Airports have to cope with vast numbers of people passing through too. If they can manage it, why not motorway service areas?You said “If even tebay isn’t good enough for you, with its farm shop and locally sourced produce, then to be honest you should just tell your limousine chauffeur not to stop at services at all.”You seem to be having some anger issues and are taking it out on me for what ever reason. I wrote this post in the hope that it will encourage the folks that run Motorway service stations to improve their quality.And by the way, I don’t have a chauffeur driven limousine? I drive a Yaris. It’s a dinky wee car and does me great.I will continue to stop by Tebay on my way past because it is the best motorway services in the UK.

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