Anyone who has followed the London news via the internet today cannot have failed to come across stories about a tube worker, presumed to be Ian Morbin at Holborn station abusing a customer.

However, as the video clip of the incident emerged, there was a groundswell of anger over on the ubiquitous Twitter website – although for once, the media couldn’t cite a Stephen Fry quote as he was busy ramping up Daily Mail outrage elsewhere.

Twitter is fast getting a reputation as the residence of celebs and angry users.

Anyhow, Mayor Boris consideratly tweeted that he was suitably appalled by the video clip, giving the news media their  headline at last.

Elsewhere, someone found the Facebook profile of the person involved – which lead to an interesting comment on his “wall” when the video was shown to everyone on the BBC’s lunchtime news.


Some have, with some justification, worried a bit about a mob mentality and whether the guy would get a fair hearing in light of the Court of Public Opinion.

I have two issues with this:

a) I used to work in customer care myself – and you learn very quickly how to fake being polite to customers. Internally you are chewing your hand off at the stupidity/pettiness/anger/etc of the person in front of you, but your face and demenour is full of niceness. Once the customer is gone, you’d walk off the shop floor and scream in the stock room!

So, I have very little sympathy with some of the comments that have emerged that maybe he was just having a bad day, or a customer had just annoyed him before the video clip was started. Accepted, we all have off-days at times but there is a difference between indifferent customer care from an employee suffering a hangover, and what we saw on the video clip.

Nothing on earth can justify behaving like that in public. Nothing at all.

b) The other worry is that the Twitter mob is baying for blood and that could be problematic. Initially, and despite being a fully signed up member of the mob,  I had some sympathy with this view – but then I read on the Torygraph website that apparently TfL’s initial reaction to the video clip was to just hold one of its usual internal investigations.

A very loose way of saying “we hope this will just go away as we don’t want to annoy the unions”.

It was the Twitter fury and the subsequent Boris intervention that apparently caused TfL to suddenly grow some balls and actually take the issue seriously enough to suspend the employee.

On this topic, I really have only one opinion – the guy needs to be sacked. There is no training failure here, there is no excuse of having had a bad day. There simply is no excuse.

What’s the betting he just gets moved to a back-office job though?


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  1. Anon says:

    I don’t think he should be sacked. A warning on his file is sufficient because he has already been publicly vilified and I’m sure he has learned a valuable lesson from this incident.

    If he is not sacked then I hope he gets moved to a back-office role because if he stays in the frontline, passengers will give him a tough time based on this incident.

  2. Exit, Pursued by a Berar says:

    Outrageous. Whatever the man is alleged to have done, there is no excuse for a member of TfL staff descending to personal insults in this way. There are ways and means of dealing with customers decently and with respect – to resort to name-calling and attempts at public humiliation is childish in the extreme and this guy should be severely reprimanded.

  3. Antony Nett says:

    Just supposing this old man had physically assaulted Ian before the camera started rolling? At the very start of the clip you see Ian asking the man to come upstairs and speak to the police. Why was he saying that to an innocent man?
    Is it not also just a tad more than a coincidence that a man who is a big shot in the publicity, marketing and advertising world just happens to produce this piece of film albeit half the story? The fact that this has gone national, is all over the papers, television and the internet coupled with the fact that he has also inlisted the Mayor of London in his campaign must be doing wonders for this man’s CV!
    I can’t help but feel that Jonathon Macdonald has blood on his hands and you know what? I think he quiet enjoys the fact!

    • IanVisits says:

      Actually, he asks the man to come up to the police far later in the video clip – not at the begining. Also, if a physical assault had occurred, not only would I not expect the other member of staff to be standing by doing nothing, but I wouldn’t expect the man to be allowed to get on the train at all.

      You’ll forgive me if I don’t subscribe to your conspiracy theory, as I have seen, and been subject to, the same sort of behaviour from transport staff in the past.

  4. Matt says:

    Dismissal. The sort of behaviour the TFL staff member showed is completely unacceptable regardless of the provocation (although there is no evidence of any here). However, I’m afraid it now seems that transport staff are encouraged to equate customer complaints with abuse. I imagine a staff manual somewhere that reads: “If customer complains say it is nothing to do with you. If customer repeats complaint call security.” That the TFL worker threatened the commuter with the police comes as absolutely no surprise to me. It is now the default response when staff don’t want to or are unable to respond sensibly to aggrieved customers.

  5. Helen says:

    From what I have read, Mr. Morbin had previously insulted or offended a number of customers who contacted the Press or TfL after the incident. Some of the stories say the people involved had not complained because they simply assumed nothing would be done about the matter.

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