Rail Hell, a Customer Journey

  aca 00:27 04 Apr 2009

Purpose of post, really to get it off my chest and share some frustration.

I used the First Great Western (FGW) online ticket site to purchase a ticket from Totnes to Bristol earlier this week. On waking the morning of the commute I heard on radio that severe disruption on the route.(and I needed to be on time for a meet)
Went online on the FGW site, and big red text advising that severe delays and best to avoid/find alternatives.

Decided that best to drive and emailed the FGW customer service to get refund before I left. Got email back 2 days later saying that I was entitled to full refund (and not the standard cancellation with £10 admin fee deduction) but needed to go through their web team. (all train operators use an online ticket agency TrainLine for online sales).

The adventure starts.

Called them tonight, advisor sais that I cant claim refund from them as although I purchased ticket from them I need to go to operator of train (which was Cross Country).
I responded by saying that my contract was with them as I had purchased ticket from them and they were responsible.

No joy and was referred to their terms and conditions. Spoke to manager who also said I needed to claim from Cross Country. He gave me number.

(now 30 minutes into the "customer journey")

Called Cross Country. They said that as I had purchased the ticket from FGW it was FGW that should refund... (BP rising now and close to blowing)

Decided to go back to FGW (not the webteam) but the orginal customer service dept.

Really helpful (sensing I was on the brink) and after some discussion offered £10 which would cover the admin fee deduction of a standard cancellation, and said go back to web team and go for a standard refund and there wouldnt be a problem

So started a 20 min call with the FGW (TrainLine webteam).And had to start from scratch. They disputed that there was any line disruption and had to put in a call to Cross Country. They said an alternative train was available although with delays.Finally they said that they would write to Cross Country and it was up to them whether they would provide a refund.

Some interesting consumer issues, a refund procedure that takes almost as long as the journey itself and a phone bill almost as high as the cost of the journey.

Come back British Rail..

I'll drive next time.

  rdave13 01:37 04 Apr 2009

You really shouldn't drive to your destination as that will affect your 'carbon footprint'.
On the other hand; drive to your destination if it doesn't affect your blood pressure...

  Forum Editor 08:21 04 Apr 2009

is that First Great Western is responsible to you for the refund. The Supply of Goods and Services Act says that any contract term that purports to restrict or exclude a consumer’s rights in relation to the supply of a service must not be unreasonable or unfair.

This means that a supplier of services (a ticket seller) may not try to restrict your consumer rights by introducing contract terms that seek to do that.

Ticket agents - that is a company selling tickets on behalf of another business - have a legal duty to make a refund, or offer an alternative, if the event or service for which you bought a ticket is cancelled by the supplier of the final service, i.e. the carrier.

On the other hand..... someone is probably going to introduce the 'circumstances beyond our control' reason for not refunding. It can be a complicated situation.

  jack 08:47 04 Apr 2009

Is no reason for not complying with 'Failing to Supply.

The contractual issues between primary supply and their Agents is a matter for them.
The customer purchased a ticket through an agent[contracted to the primary supply]
The primary supplier failed to fulfill
Refund is due.
Issues between primary supplier and the agent is nothing to do with the end purchaser.

  aca 09:45 04 Apr 2009

Thanks Jack&FE

As ever advice appreciated.

I guess FGW (not the ticket agency) by agreeing to send me £10 (to cover admin fee) and telling me to claim the balance from ticket agency have accepted liability, but clumsy process in having again to try and navigate through the cancellation/refund process.

FE interestingly in light of your comment about providing an alternative. In the final conversation I had with the Agency, they said that Cross Country told them that an alternative train was available (20 minutes later but with delays/disruption).

My response was that I followed clear advice from the FGW website which stated that passengers were advised not to travel because of the severe delays.

I guess I could have ignored this, arrived 2 hours late for an important meeting, and then the claim process MAY have been easier.

I will wait to see if I get refund and then follow up using some of the ammunition provided here.

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