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Yesterday I bought a train ticket on the FGW website which I then collected from a FGW ticket machine at a FGW station.

 

It was an open ticket where I could return on a different day. As soon as I collected it I realised that I had bought the ticket the wrong way round - i.e from place B to place A rather than place A to place B. This means that as it stands I can travel out on the 'return' part as it's valid for one month but I can't get back on the 'out' part as it's tied to a specific day.

 

My mistake, but a genuine one. I've done this a few times before, and it's always been a simple matter to get this sorted - the clerk just sells me a new ticket, and then voids and refunds the original one. A few days later the money goes back on my card and all is well with the world.

 

But this was always at a ticket office. This time I've been informed that the ticket machine counts as a 'different location' (even though it's at the station I collected it from) and so they can't do that. In order to process a refund at a 'different location' I will be charged an administration fee of £10. Since the ticket only cost £7.55, this means that effectively I can't get it refunded as the admin charge is more than just buying a new ticket.

 

The clerk suggested that I should probably just board the train anyway and explain to the guard (and the people on the ticket gates who will need to let me through) what had happened. The problem with that is that this area is part of a penalty fares scheme and there are some extremely jobsworths guards about. Doing that could risk me being charged £20 for the journey.

 

As it stands I've had to buy a new ticket and am now stuck with another ticket I don't want and intend to make complaints to get it refunded.

 

As I bought it online I thought I'd be protected by the Distance Selling regulations but apparently these exclude contracts to provide transport. Could their policy be considered a breach of The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts legislation? It seems very wrong to provide a refund process which costs more to use than the cost of the purchase - essentially they are advertising a process which can't be used in my case.

 

It also seems wrong that if I go back to the original location (as in a ticket office) they would have refunded without an admin fee but in this case the £10 is for the service of being refunded from a 'different location' when they are providing no way of being refunded from the actual location (i.e. the ticket machine itself) which also seems wrong.

 

I'm particularly irked when I spend about £2000 / year on rail travel, almost all of which is on First Great Western, to then be treated like this!

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Unfortunately, you messed up and selected the wrong ticket, but nevertheless, the ticket you purchased was provided.

 

Railway gave you what you asked for.

 

Regardless of where you purchased it, a £10 administration fee would apply, even if bought from a ticket office.

 

Why would you complain? It's your fault! You seem to make a habit of making this same mistake too, so this might at least make you think next time!

 

You agree to the £10 administration fee when you agree to the National Rail Conditions of Carriage during the purchase process.

 

In the case of a refund made under [...] above, you may have to pay a reasonable administrative charge (not exceeding £10). In such cases, where the administrative charge exceeds the refund you would have been entitled to, no refund will be payable.

 

http://nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/nrcc/NRCOC.pdf

 

The only time the £10 fee doesn't apply is when you decide not to travel because of disruption within the control of the railway operators.

 

(Incidentally, £2000 isn't much over a year!)

Edited by firstclassx
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Hello again.

 

I'm sorry, I think firstclass could be right.

 

It would be the same if I bought an airline ticket and mixed up the dates. A friend of ours did that, for a lot more than £7.55, and ended up just having to let the wrong ticket go, because of the admin fee for changing it.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Regardless of where you purchased it, a £10 administration fee would apply, even

if bought from a ticket office.

The ticket office clerk (and my own experience) advised that he could and would have just done it had it been purchased through his office and that the fee would only come into play here for purchasing from a 'different location' (silly me for thinking a ticket machine installed at the station in question wouldn't be counted as part of the the same location for revenue collection purposes).

 

 

 

Why would you complain? It's your fault! You seem to make a habit of making this same mistake too, so this might at least make you think next time!

 

You agree to the £10 administration fee when you agree to the National

Rail Conditions of Carriage during the purchase process.

I purchase in the excess of 200 rail tickets per year, and have done for at least the last 10 years. Thats 2000 tickets, and this is the 3rd or 4th time in all of that time that I made a mistake. So 99.998% of the time I get it right. Hardly seems like a 'habit' to me. And the wording of NRCOC is that I *may* have to pay a *reasonable* administration fee not exceeding £10. Surely if that is taken as 'we will charge you £10' when I doubt very much that a £10 cost is involved then that is hardly implementing NRCOC in the spirit intended, whether it's legal or not.

 

My question was whether or not the £10 charge could constitute a breach of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 - it certainly seems unfair to mandate an administrative fee which may be more than the cost of the original ticket and thus make refunds impossible below a certain amount. Indeed, I note with interest that the wording of NRCOC specifically states that 'where the administrative charge exceeds the refund you would have been entitled to, no refund will be payable'. I'm fairly sure that under that legislation it's illegal to explicitly state in a contract that a refund won't be paid.

 

But apart from the legal position, why should I complain and get a refund for my first ticket? Because it's a simple matter of customer service. Yes the mistake was mine and FGW supplied what I ordered, but in most customer service industries (which the railway apparently is) then it's simply matter of good will and customer loyalty to just let me make that mistake and change the ticket. As someone who has worked in customer-facing environments all of my working life, experience has taught me that you don't make customers pay for their mistakes where there is negligable cost to you just because the rulebook says you can. Have you ever returned something to a shop simply because you changed your mind? Are you aware that you have no legal right at all to do that and the shop would be acting completely by the book if they told you where to go? It is only the shop's good will that let you return it - and they do that to keep you happy so that you will be comfortable shopping there again. At the end of the day, without the customer there is no business and you don't have a job. You can never win by falling out with a customer, you can only lose a customer.

 

Customers are not an annoyance, they are the reason that *any* business exists. Start treating them like that and you will end up with no business.

Edited by citizenB
Insults removed.
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Another case of someone who can't take responsibility for their own actions, not sure what you expected from here but unfortunately you asked for something, was sold exactly what you asked for so hey ho, who's fault is that? Generally people who bounce around the word "Jobsworth" seem to expect all of the rules to be bent just for them.

Views expressed in this forum by me are my own personal opinion and you take it on face value! I make any comments to the best of my knowledge but you take my advice at your own risk.

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Just making the point that the general attitude in this particular forum seems completely at odds with the attitude of the rest of CAG, which is around trying to make sure people are treated *fairly*, not just to take the view that if an industry can get away with doing something then it must be right.

 

Take a step back for a second. Is it *really* such a big deal or an unreasonable request for someone to say 'I booked this ticket the wrong way around. I want it changed'? It's not. In most industries, the need to be seen to be providing good service and keep the customer happy is reason enough for it to be changed, even if the law surrounding the matter doesn't require the industry to do so.

 

As I said earlier, until today I had no idea that the view of the rail industry, which seems well represented in this forum, is to make sure that customers pay for their mistakes, and to justify that on the grounds that 'we do it because we can'. Are we supposed to be grateful that you provide a train service, as if it's not something operated on a commercial basis and which doesn't depend on the passengers paying to use it? Do those in the industry not get that you don't have a job without us? It might be in the NRCOC, but no way in hell does refusing to change a ticket without paying a £10 admin fee which is pure additional revenue constitute good customer service. In my own field of work I do things for customers to keep them happy even though there is nothing in law to require me to do so on a daily basis because if we did anything else we'd have gone out of business years ago.

 

But whilst we're arguing legality, it is my view that explicitly stating that there is no right of refund in a contract is arguably illegal and constitutes an unfair term in the contract. I had hoped to receive some advice on that point, I can see that I won't get it from here.

Edited by chris223b
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Just making the point that the general attitude in this particular forum seems completely at odds with the attitude of the rest of CAG, which is around trying to make sure people are treated *fairly*, not just to take the view that if an industry can get away with doing something then it must be right.

 

Take a step back for a second. Is it *really* such a big deal or an unreasonable request for someone to say 'I booked this ticket the wrong way around. I want it changed'? It's not. In most industries, the need to be seen to be providing good service and keep the customer happy is reason enough for it to be changed, even if the law surrounding the matter doesn't require the industry to do so.

 

As I said earlier, until today I had no idea that the view of the rail industry, which seems well represented in this forum, is to make sure that customers pay for their mistakes, and to justify that on the grounds that 'we do it because we can'. Are we supposed to be grateful that you provide a train service, as if it's not something operated on a commercial basis and which doesn't depend on the passengers paying to use it? Do those in the industry not get that you don't have a job without us? It might be in the NRCOC, but no way in hell does refusing to change a ticket without paying a £10 admin fee which is pure additional revenue constitute good customer service. In my own field of work I do things for customers to keep them happy even though there is nothing in law to require me to do so on a daily basis because if we did anything else we'd have gone out of business years ago.

 

But whilst we're arguing legality, it is my view that explicitly stating that there is no right of refund in a contract is arguably illegal and constitutes an unfair term in the contract. I had hoped to receive some advice on that point, I can see that I won't get it from here.

 

 

 

I had some sympathy for your position when starting to read through this thread, but I think RPI, firstclassx and others are right.

 

You got EXACTLTY what you requested and paid for, YOU made the mistake.

 

I'm not condoning the contractual caveat that says an advance ticket paid, but not used has no refund value, debate on that subject is another matter, though sadly, the booking clerk is right in this instance. The current rules, whether we like them or not, are the same for everyone and do preclude such action.

 

Like other users of this site, I also contribute to other forums and in my experience you would have got the same answer and in some cases an even more dismissive response elsewhere. Other retail industries cannot be compared as 'like for like' customer service matters for very good reason. You may purchase an item and return it for refund undamaged and unused at the discretion of the seller, but that item is available to the seller for resale. People who book advance tickets get a complimentary seat reservation and once booked, that ticket & seat is no longer available to other travellers at the same price. You want to change your ticket at a later time, in so doing you have denied another traveller the right to book that cheap ticket and seat because the numbers of these are strictly limited, so it is not a comparable business at all.

 

I was interested to see your note that you have done this several times before. Perhaps you should have learned by now that you should take more care when purchasing tickets and that people are not obliged to keep bending the rules to correct YOUR mistakes.

 

You were asking to be exempt from the rules that apply to everyone else and when it was refused, if you employed the same rhetoric as your outburst here, I'm not surprised that you got the result that you have.

Edited by Old-CodJA
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You got EXACTLTY what you requested and paid for, YOU made the mistake.

That is not in question. I made a mistake, not the railway company. My point is that the railway will now see me punished for that mistake whereas other customer service industries would consider it a matter of goodwill to allow me to make it in order to keep my custom. My point is also that this entire argument has come about because I bought my ticket online and collected it from a ticket machine - a route the TOC promotes heavily. Had I purchased it in person at a ticket office (which I would gladly have done if it isn't liable to closure without warning) the clerk confirmed that he could and would have refunded it. This reeks of discrimination given that another person could make exactly the same mistake but, because had they used another route to purchase it, wouldn't have the problems I have

 

Other retail industries cannot be compared as 'like for like' customer service matters for very good reason.

What are the 'very good reasons'? A privatised railway operation is a commercial service business, where a service is provided in exchange for payment from the customer. Without the customer there is no business, therefore you don't upset the customer, even if the law says that you can. Seems simple enough to me. I don't know why the railway industry think they are so special and so exempt from common practices elsewhere in other commercial customer service industries.

 

People who book advance tickets get a complimentary seat reservation and once booked, that ticket & seat is no longer available to other travellers at the same price. You want to change your ticket at a later time, in so doing you have denied another traveller the right to book that cheap ticket and seat because the numbers of these are strictly limited, so it is not a comparable business at all.

Who said it was a discounted advance ticket? It was a standard ticket for the full fair bought in advance - not a discounted one. There was no cheap travel and no seat reservation involved. No other passengers have been denied any rights - I only paid the same as a walk up passenger. The reason I bought it in advance was because the starting station is unstaffed with no ticket purchasing facilities and I didn't want the hassle of going on a man-hunt to find the guard who more often than not does nothing other than ride in the rear cab, emerging only for station duties and making no effort to check tickets - or sell one to those who don't have one. I was actually doing my bit to make sure I paid for my journey, when many travel the route concerned free of charge due to no ticket barriers and poor ticket checks on trains.

 

I was interested to see your note that you have done this several times before.

Perhaps you should have learned by now that you should take more care when

purchasing tickets and that people are not obliged to keep bending the rules to

correct YOUR mistakes.

I said I have done it a few times before, out of about 2000 tickets bought in the last 10 years. Hardly commonplace. And on this occasion the mistake occured during one of 7 tickets purchased on the same day.

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Ryanair - No refunds.

Easyjet - No refunds.

Wizzair - No refunds.

 

Other countless airlines - No refunds.

 

Still got millions of passengers flocking to them each year!

 

£10 is a very reasonable charge as far as "admin fees" go.

Form filling, passenger account/LENNON alterations, staff time, possibly postage, fraud prevention checking, arranging/paying refund, etc.

 

And you want them to go through all that hassle, for free, because of your own mistake?

 

You aren't getting the answers you want on here, because, frankly, you:

 

a) Don't have a case;

b) Are responsible for the problem in the first place;

c) Agreed to the refund (and other) contractual conditions during purchase;

d) Were given permission to use that ticket by ticket office staff, yet you declined this;

e) It is possible that the The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 do not apply to the NRCoC anyway, because of Regulation 4(2a).

see: REGULATION (EC) No 1371/2007 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

 

Article 8(2), of that EU Regulation, specifies:

 

2. The General Conditions of Carriage shall determine under what conditions a refund of the carriage charge shall be

made.

 

That said, I am not sure where the UK government are up to with regards to repealing The Rail Passengers’ Rights and Obligations (Exemptions) Regulations 2009. The SI self destructs on 04/12/2014 if not withdrawn (now) or beforehand.

Edited by firstclassx
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There's no law stating they have to offer something as a gesture of goodwill. Last year I booked some tickets. I got home and realised I'd booked the wrong dates. Went back to the railway station, asked to change tickets and was told yes; but there's an admin fee, which I accepted with no questions asked.

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Who said it was a discounted advance ticket? It was a standard ticket for the full fair bought in advance - not a discounted one. There was no cheap travel and no seat reservation involved. No other passengers have been denied any rights - I only paid the same as a walk up passenger. The reason I bought it in advance was because the starting station is unstaffed with no ticket purchasing facilities and I didn't want the hassle of going on a man-hunt to find the guard who more often than not does nothing other than ride in the rear cab, emerging only for station duties and making no effort to check tickets - or sell one to those who don't have one. I was actually doing my bit to make sure I paid for my journey, when many travel the route concerned free of charge due to no ticket barriers and poor ticket checks on trains.

 

My apology, I misread this part (quoted below) and where you referred to advance purchase I had read this as an Advance Fare.

 

It was an open ticket where I could return on a different day. As soon as I collected it I realised that I had bought the ticket the wrong way round - i.e from place B to place A rather than place A to place B. This means that as it stands I can travel out on the 'return' part as it's valid for one month but I can't get back on the 'out' part as it's tied to a specific day.

 

 

I don't know why the railway industry think they are so special and so exempt from common practices elsewhere in other commercial customer service industries.

 

I think you answered that yourself here:

 

As I bought it online I thought I'd be protected by the Distance Selling regulations but apparently these exclude contracts to provide transport.

 

There are a specific set of National Rail Conditions of Carriage and specific parliamentary Acts & Byelaws that regulate the Rail, Bus & Air industries, which do not apply to non-transport providers.

 

Until that changes, whether we like it or not, we are ALL subject to the same rules.

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TBF inferring the ticketing staff on train are 'jobsworths' is never going to make you very popular or your own opinion accepted.

 

When I worked on the front line at the very company you mention I was accused of being a jobsworth many times, it was never fair.

FGW monitor their staff all the time, they take regular passengers reports as 'accurate' and will discipline staff on bare evidence gained hence most staff wouldn't use any judgement at all, they'd take the 'company line' and if that means they are judged as jobsworths then sobeit.

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