Double Discount Railcard 16-25 and Disabled Railcard

tiptoptaff

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Hello, I came across this thread on twitter:

https://twitter.com/DonnellyHannah1/status/1235533213336027136?s=19
@TPEassist Is there a reason you can only use the student discount code with a student railcard and not another, specifically a disabled persons railcard? #disabledstudent
I don't really understand what she's on about for a start - so could someone explain what this discount she's on about is? They've told her she can't use two railcards on a booking, because they can't double discount, but it doesn't appear that's what she means - it appears there some double discount code for the 16-25 railcard

Also, is it really discrimination if she can't use her disabled railcard to get a discount intended for the 16-25 railcard?

Finally, are TPE right to say "you may be a student with a disabled railcard, but you can't have this discount because you don't have the 16-25 railcard"?

Perhaps if someone could explain the context, I myself could formulate a better opinion of what's going on...
 
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WelshBluebird

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Ignore what I posted before.

It looks like TPE have a special offer for advance tickets where if you have a 16-25 railcard you can get 50% off instead of the usual third.
So I guess the person is complaining why this can't also be the case for the disabled railcard for those who are also students.
 

Llanigraham

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The Tweets in question:
[URL='https://twitter.com/DonnellyHannah1']Hannah Donnelly
[URL='https://twitter.com/DonnellyHannah1']@DonnellyHannah1
[URL='https://twitter.com/TPEassist']@TPEassist
[/URL][/URL][/URL]
Is there a reason you can only use the student discount code with a student railcard and not another, specifically a disabled persons railcard? #disabledstudent

Replies

[URL='https://twitter.com/TPEassist']TPE Customer Assist

@TPEassist
Replying to
@DonnellyHannah1
Hi Hannah, I'm afraid only one railcard can be used per booking. Really sorry for this. ^JL
[/URL]
https://twitter.com/TPEassist
It appears she wants to add the 2 discounts from each card together, and quite correctly that is not allowed. You get one or the other.
 

Haywain

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TPE offer a special discount for 16-15 railcard holders, and do not extend it to other railcards. I can't see there being any discrimination as the person who tweeted is not prevented from buying a 16-25 railcard (unless they are over 26 and not a full time student). Lots of people have more than one railcard, for all sorts of reasons.
 

yorkie

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TPE offer 50 per cent discount off their own Advance fares if you book with a 16-25 discount on their own website.

This discount isn't available with any other type of Railcard not is it available from any other retailer.

This discount is - in my opinion - unlawful because it's an abuse of a dominant position and denies other retailers matching the price they charge.

Whether it's additionally unlawful because it isn't provided to holders of Disabled Railcards is unlikely; my understanding is that it is lawful to provide additional discounts for people who qualify for criteria such as your/old age and/or student status.

Terms such as "double discount" are not helpful in this context as they are chasing confusion, but it's certainly true that the discount is greater with a different type of Railcard than the one the person holds, and they are unhappy about this fact.
 

tiptoptaff

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Thanks for the explanation, it makes more sense to me now.

So, she's complaining, in essence, because her railcard doesn't entitle her to the additionally discounted fare, despite being eligible for the railcard that would provide the additional discount
 

yorkie

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Thanks for the explanation, it makes more sense to me now.

So, she's complaining, in essence, because her railcard doesn't entitle her to the additionally discounted fare, despite being eligible for the railcard that would provide the additional discount
Yes.

In most respects someone who is entitled to both Railcards would be better off just buying the Disabled Railcard and not bothering with 16-25.

Off the top of my head this is the only exception I can think of.

If I was TPE I would be abolishing this discount, because even if it's not discriminatory to do what they are doing, it risks generating bad PR, and separately to that, if they refuse to open up the discount to other retailers I do t see how it's not an abuse of a dominant position.

https://ec.europa.eu/competition/consumers/abuse_en.html
Abuse of a dominant position
A company can restrict competition if it is in a position of strength on a given market. A dominant position is not in itself anti-competitive, but if the company exploits this position to eliminate competition, it is considered to have abused it.

Examples include:

  • charging unreasonably high prices
  • depriving smaller competitors of customers by selling at artificially low prices they can't compete with
  • obstructing competitors in the market (or in another related market) by forcing consumers to buy a product which is artificially related to a more popular, in-demand product
  • refusing to deal with certain customers or offering special discounts to customers who buy all or most of their supplies from the dominant company
  • making the sale of one product conditional on the sale of another product.

It often surprises me how little training train companies provide to their staff in areas such as consumer, contract and competition laws.
 

bb21

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it risks generating bad PR,
I haven't personally witnessed any of this, or aware of any of their genuine customers raise this issue. Why would they? I am at a total loss.

If I was TPE I would be abolishing this discount,
Am I allowed to say "thank god you are not"? ;) I think I can foresee what sort of PR that is going to generate with their customers.
 

HSP 2

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TPE offer 50 per cent discount off their own Advance fares if you book with a 16-25 discount on their own website.
Whether it's additionally unlawful because it isn't provided to holders of Disabled Railcards is unlikely; my understanding is that it is lawful to provide additional discounts for people who qualify for criteria such as your/old age and/or student status.
If the person who has the disabled rail card is between 16-25 why should they be exempted from the 50% offer. That to me just sounds like discrimination. All they should have to prove is they are at collage or in full time studies to qualify and then get it added to their card.
 

fishquinn

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I'd say abolishing the discount would generate far more bad PR than keeping it. Keeping it means that they're offering reduced fares for people (even if it is select groups) - surely a good thing as far as the standard passenger is concerned, and I can't imagine a passenger will care if TPE is allowed to sell it but other sites aren't. Abolishing it suddenly means that many people are paying more which will generate bad PR, particularly across the student community (who are a potential large market when they have a more disposable income in later life).
 

bb21

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If the person who has the disabled rail card is between 16-25 why should they be exempted from the 50% offer. That to me just sounds like discrimination. All they should have to prove is they are at collage or in full time studies to qualify and then get it added to their card.
Please explain the part highlighted in red.
 

sheff1

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This discount is - in my opinion - unlawful because it's an abuse of a dominant position and denies other retailers matching the price they charge.
An interesting view. I can't much difference between this and TOCs who offer certain tickets only via a specific link on their website or app; or those who only offer certain fares as 'smart' tickets on their own cards; or those who offer 'points' or 'rewards' when booking tickets etc.

Do you think all those TOCs are acting unlawfully as well ? If they are, it seems very strange that such unlawful practices have not been challenged during the last 25+ years.
 

HSP 2

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Please explain the part highlighted in red.
The person who has the disable railcar will only get 1/3 off rail travel, but to get the best discount (providing they are between 16 -25 Etc.) would have to buy a second railcard to get the 50% off.
I'm saying that it's discriminating between disabled students and able-bodied students in the same age group. Why can't TPE add a note to the disabled persons rail card to get the 50% discount.
 

furlong

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Think about how the discount is funded. If another retailer matches the discount, they'll have to pay real money to TPE to cover the difference and make an actual loss on that sale. The more the retailer sells, the bigger the loss it makes. When TPE sells the discounted ticket it just reduces its income. The more tickets it sells, the more income it gets - and the more profit.
 

furlong

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As to the wider points, you'd need to consider each case separately, but they would often involve small percentage amounts (fundable by any retailer equally if they accept a reduced margin on the sale) or short-term promotions (funded from marketing budgets hoping to generate longer-term growth in volume). And there's also a formal provision that permits temporary fares.
 

bb21

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The person who has the disable railcar will only get 1/3 off rail travel, but to get the best discount (providing they are between 16 -25 Etc.) would have to buy a second railcard to get the 50% off.
I'm saying that it's discriminating between disabled students and able-bodied students in the same age group. Why can't TPE add a note to the disabled persons rail card to get the 50% discount.
Where is the less favourable treatment of disabled students? If you don't purchase a 16-25 Railcard, there is no discount, disabled or not. Disabled students are at a far more advantageous position being entitled to a Disabled Railcard, accessing discounted fares able-bodied students cannot access.
 

Haywain

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I'm saying that it's discriminating between disabled students and able-bodied students in the same age group. Why can't TPE add a note to the disabled persons rail card to get the 50% discount.
So, exactly the same treatment as a 23 year-old holder of a Forces railcard?
 

SussexMan

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I think this could be contrary to the Equality Act and be a case of indirect discrimination (although I very much doubt that was the intention). A disabled student is much less likely to purchase a 16-25 Railcard if they are entitled to a Disabled Railcard because of the more advantageous discounts. Therefore, arguably, the proportion disabled students (who have a protected characteristic) who own a 16-25 railcard is significantly less than the proportion of non-disabled students who own a 16-25 railcard. To offer a discount to holders of 16-25 railcards only means that indirectly, disabled students are being discriminated against.

Indirect discrimination examples
 

Chew-chew

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The person who has the disable railcar will only get 1/3 off rail travel, but to get the best discount (providing they are between 16 -25 Etc.) would have to buy a second railcard to get the 50% off.
I'm saying that it's discriminating between disabled students and able-bodied students in the same age group. Why can't TPE add a note to the disabled persons rail card to get the 50% discount.
Why do disabled students have to buy a disabled railcard rather than the 16-25? They could have either railcard.
There is no discrimination here. The offer is based on the type of railcard you hold, not a protected characteristic. It’s rather like saying a shop offering student discount is discriminatory against non-students.
 

Chew-chew

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I think this could be contrary to the Equality Act and be a case of indirect discrimination (although I very much doubt that was the intention). A disabled student is much less likely to purchase a 16-25 Railcard if they are entitled to a Disabled Railcard because of the more advantageous discounts. Therefore, arguably, the proportion disabled students (who have a protected characteristic) who own a 16-25 railcard is significantly less than the proportion of non-disabled students who own a 16-25 railcard. To offer a discount to holders of 16-25 railcards only means that indirectly, disabled students are being discriminated against.

Indirect discrimination examples
So, by this logic, offering a special offer fare for over-55s is discriminatory based on age? Or the non-availability of railcards for those in their 30s, 40s and 50s based on age.
Certain products are designed to offer a commercial advantage to certain groups. If all offers and discounts have to be available to everyone, in order to avoid potential ‘discrimination’, what’s the point in having railcards at all?
 

SussexMan

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So, by this logic, offering a special offer fare for over-55s is discriminatory based on age? Or the non-availability of railcards for those in their 30s, 40s and 50s based on age.
Certain products are designed to offer a commercial advantage to certain groups. If all offers and discounts have to be available to everyone, in order to avoid potential ‘discrimination’, what’s the point in having railcards at all?
No, because age-based concessions are permitted by the Equality Act.
 

SussexMan

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Why do disabled students have to buy a disabled railcard rather than the 16-25? They could have either railcard.
There is no discrimination here. The offer is based on the type of railcard you hold, not a protected characteristic. It’s rather like saying a shop offering student discount is discriminatory against non-students.
They could have either railcard, except the 16-25 card doesn't allow a companion to travel at the reduced rate. You misunderstand indirect discrimination by simply saying it is based on the railcard held. Indirect discrimination is when there's a practice, policy or rule which applies to everyone in the same way, but it has a worse effect on some people than others. The Equality Act says it puts you at a particular disadvantage.
 

yorkie

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An interesting view. I can't much difference between this and TOCs who offer certain tickets only via a specific link on their website or app; or those who only offer certain fares as 'smart' tickets on their own cards
You are right, there isn't. They are in the same category.
Do you think all those TOCs are acting unlawfully as well ? If they are, it seems very strange that such unlawful practices have not been challenged during the last 25+ years.
Yes. And they are being challenged.

I haven't personally witnessed any of this, or aware of any of their genuine customers raise this issue. Why would they? I am at a total loss.
I am not necessarily agreeing with it, but some people will (rightly or wrongly) take the view that:
I think this could be contrary to the Equality Act and be a case of indirect discrimination...
...however it will only become a PR problem for TPE if mainstream media decides to run this is a story. I do not know how likely that might be. If that happens, then believe me it would be far worse than...
Am I allowed to say "thank god you are not"? ;) I think I can foresee what sort of PR that is going to generate with their customers.
...let's face it, other companies have abolished all sorts of discounts, easements and loyalty schemes without any serious PR damage.

Why do disabled students have to buy a disabled railcard rather than the 16-25? They could have either railcard.
They could, but let's be realistic: anyone who is entitled to both would benefit much more by having the Disabled Railcard. The only people who may choose to get a 16-25 instead are people who regularly travel on TPE and book in advance. Even then, they have to pay more. And they lose various protections that would be available if they had the Disabled Railcard.
There is no discrimination here. The offer is based on the type of railcard you hold, not a protected characteristic. It’s rather like saying a shop offering student discount is discriminatory against non-students.
I'm not necessarily saying there is or isn't discrimination but I can see why some people argue there is. If the offer was available anyone people aged 16-25, or anyone who was a student, then clearly there would not be. But I can see how someone who has a Disabled Railcard who also qualifies for a 16-25 Railcard might not be happy.
So, by this logic, offering a special offer fare for over-55s is discriminatory based on age?
No. If the offer was available to anyone aged 16-25 then the complaint would not have been made, the tweet not sent, and this thread wouldn't exist. There'd be no argument.
Or the non-availability of railcards for those in their 30s, 40s and 50s based on age.
That's a completely separate matter and isn't discriminatory
Certain products are designed to offer a commercial advantage to certain groups.
Absolutely and there is no problem what that concept whatsoever.

But if you market something as for "Students" and then say that a disabled student cannot get the discount unless they buy an additional Railcard, which - for all other purposes - is a poorer quality Railcard than the one they already hold, some people are going to be upset. Is it illegal? I don't know. Is it right or wrong? I am not sure either. But it is entirely foreseeable that people will be unhappy about it
If all offers and discounts have to be available to everyone, in order to avoid potential ‘discrimination’, what’s the point in having railcards at all?
I don't think anyone has suggested that all offers and discounts have to be available to everyone.

The issue here is that all TOCs - except TPE - make it advantageous for a disabled 16-25 year old to purchase a Disabled Railcard only, while TPE go against that and effectively want them to buy two Railcards. That is clearly going to upset some people.
 

snail

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But if you market something as for "Students" and then say that a disabled student cannot get the discount unless they buy an additional Railcard, which - for all other purposes - is a poorer quality Railcard than the one they already hold, some people are going to be upset.
As are students that don't have a 16-25 railcard, they miss out on the discount if they don't buy one. If they did extend the offer to disabled cardholders how would they administer the age check? Does a disabled railcard show the holder's age? Would a companion get the 50% as well?
 

yorkie

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As are students that don't have a 16-25 railcard, they miss out on the discount if they don't buy one.
True; it may not be marketed with the best of names!
If they did extend the offer to disabled cardholders how would they administer the age check?
There wouldn't be any practicable effective way to check this.
Does a disabled railcard show the holder's age?
No.
Would a companion get the 50% as well?
I'd imagine it would not be practicable to avoid that happening.
 

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Could TPE safely get around this by saying they offer a 50% discount on their own Advance tickets to holders of the 16-25 railcard, rather than describing it as a student discount.
 

yorkie

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Providing they allowed all retailers to offer it, I believe that would be compliant with relevant laws. It would also be clearer.

But they aren't going to do that. One of the reasons for offering the greater discount is to try to get people to book directly with them and not use third party retailers.
 

tiptoptaff

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Providing they allowed all retailers to offer it, I believe that would be compliant with relevant laws. It would also be clearer.

But they aren't going to do that. One of the reasons for offering the greater discount is to try to get people to book directly with them and not use third party retailers.
But if other retailers will lose money by selling this fare, could they not allow other retailers to sell it, knowing those other retailers would choose to not, leaving it as still a TPE exclusive discount? Or does it not work like that?
 

yorkie

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But if other retailers will lose money by selling this fare, could they not allow other retailers to sell it, and those other retailers choose to not? Or does it not work like that?
Retailers won't lose money by selling a fare at the price the train company charges for it. What train companies should do is simply make the price available through all retail channels; this would comply with relevant laws.

The issue is that TPE is - arguably - abusing its position to deprive other retailers of sales by selling some fares at an artificially low price (effectively lower than the 'wholesale' price available to third party retailers); they are obstructing other retailers by not allowing them to sell the same product at the same price that TPE offers directly. TPE are providing a special discount to customers only if the customer buys the product from TPE themselves (as the dominant company).

It's about as clear cut a case as you are likely to see and is absolutely open to legal challenge. However third party retailers may not feel comfortable bringing this matter before the courts, as the Rail Delivery Group is likely to take a dim view of a third party retailer pursuing one of its members through the courts for this reason.

Are TOC pricing departments made aware of relevant laws? It wouldn't surprise me if such training is simply not provided. In fact, Ill go further than that: I'd be very surprised if such training is provided!
 

Haywain

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Providing they allowed all retailers to offer it, I believe that would be compliant with relevant laws. It would also be clearer.

But they aren't going to do that. One of the reasons for offering the greater discount is to try to get people to book directly with them and not use third party retailers.
I don’t think there is anything preventing other retailers selling the fares with the special discount. They just have to bear a loss from doing so and, inevitably, will choose not to.
 

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