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Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by andrewkeith5, 21 Sep 2014.
This might be a new thread. But what is going to happen when the franchise is passed on?
probably no more reward points, a deadline by when all points have to be redeemed.
However I'd still expect & hope to have 6 months to actually book a ticket, but that might be wishful thinking.
It'll be sad day when the points go.
Not just with the reward points (it will be really quite sad if they go, they're surprisingly good at keeping my custom at least!) but also 'gift vouchers' - if the EC booking engine is closed I presume any outstanding balances will be lost unless they are refunded automatically.
Isn't East Coast being privatised in a different way, through a share sale rather than via the normal franchising method.
If this is the case than there is a possibility that things may remain as they are, at least in the short term.
Not that I've heard. Do you have a source for this?
This thread suggests a normal franchising process: http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?t=95376
It's in the invitation to tender, section 8.1
Thanks. I don't think it'll make much difference. I doubt the Rewards scheme will disappear the day the new franchise starts but I'll be (pleasantly) surprised if it remains in its current form.
East Coast will lose their franchise in February 2015. When the operations are handed over to another TOC how likely do members think that:
i) Rewards points will be maintained by the new TOC and may be redeemed as they are at present
ii) Rewards points will be maintained by the new TOC but with different T&C
iii) Rewards points will not be maintained by the new TOC but up until the East Coast franchise expires we will be able to redeem for services operated by the new TOC and the new TOC will honour these tickets
iv) Rewards points will not be maintained by the new TOC and redemptions for March 2015 and onwards will not be honoured
v) Something else will happen.
I have about 5000 to redeem and it will indeed be a shame if the excellent scheme is scrapped. I would expect that a new operator will want to put their own mark on the scheme or scrap it all together but I'd hope they allowed a reasonable time (a year?) to use up the points.
I wonder how many more tickets for travel on other TOCS have been purchased via the EC website since the rewards scheme started? Given EC get 9% of this (I think this is correct), the answer will go a long way to the incoming TOC deciding whether to keep the scheme or not.
I've certainly bought a lot. Any ticket over £22 which I have no chance of wanting a refund for (which is a high proportion of them) I buy through EC, any under £22 I buy from FGW for nectar points and if there's a chance I might need a refund I buy from Southern.
I go where I'm rewarded
I fear the new TOC will assume that all the customers will stay loyal to them and will take their custom for granted, abolish the Rewards scheme and then be surprised (I won't be) when people abandon them and instead book with Southern for the Money Back Guarantee (a policy which EC apparently stubbornly refuse to even consider, according to EC Web Support).
There would be no point in booking anything other than EC advances with EC if the Rewards scheme didn't exist, because of the potentially huge costs of rectifying mistakes (or implementing a change of travel plans) by having the dreaded £10 admin fee applied each time. It's a risk people are prepared to take for the current Rewards.
I know that EC management will be reading this, so hopefully they can provide suitable feedback to the bosses in charge at whatever awful owning group wins the franchise by providing the cheapest worst quality bid (in line with anti-passenger DfT policies).
It'll be interesting. The Rewards scheme in it's current form was created by DOR, but the scheme has existed in one form or another since GNER days.
I would be surprised if it remains in its current form, but most TOCs seem to understand the need to promote their websites with incentives. Most seem to use Nectar points, which are better than a kick in the face but only just.
I've got a reply on Twitter:
Me: @eastcoastuk Is there a deadline for using up East Coast Rewards points before the franchise transfer?
EC: @_charlie123 Hi Gerry. The Rewards Scheme is expected to transfer to the new owner. More details to come at a later point.
There's also the (remote I admit) possibility that the Rewards scheme could be extended to Virgin West Coast and/or East Midlands Trains/South West Trains.
I have split the more general discussion on the Nectar scheme into a separate thread.
I would put 10p on the reward scheme continuing with a couple minor changes, the reward of free tickets will be axed, so Stagecoach/Virgin can say they have kept the popular rewards scheme going.
So buy tickets for the chance to exchange your points for a range of rewards, such as magazine subscriptions, maybe keeping the 1st class lounge access passes
I won't bother with EC's website if all it offers is nectar points. The value of a nectar point is very, very low given how you can redeem them.
For any walk-up ticket, booking on Southern is the way to go, as it offers a full refund if you don't use the tickets (i.e. no admin fee). For an Advance, a special deal is often offered, e.g. 50% off with a 16-25 Railcard on TPE, £1 off on EMT, NUS Extra discount on XC and so on. If none of these apply, any site that happens to be listed for cashback - e.g. EMT are currently offering 2.1% on all journeys, rising to 3.67% if you are making a journey with them.
I do this already for any journeys where I wouldn't earn reward points, and so abolishing it will just mean moving to the Southern (or maybe South Eastern) site to purchase my tickets.
East Coast have really done huge advertising for buying tickets from them on the basis of reward points, and all that, as you say, can be easily undone if there is no benefit any more.
The question is how much money are they actually making from just selling tickets? It is all very well getting lots of customers to use your site, but if the cost of the Rewards cancels out the commission earned, then it is not worth the bother from their point of view.
That's encouraging news.
It depends what value you put on the free tickets. Each "free" first class ticket requires a spend of about £450, and I'd imagine most people have spent all £450 of that on East Coast train services. I doubt the cost to East Coast of that "free" ticket is £45.
You collect points when you buy East Coast specific trains tickets (for instance Leeds to London or Peterborough to Newcastle). You also get points when you spend £22 or more on any other tickets. All you have to do is make sure your spend is £22 or over in one visit to the East Coast web site. Where possible, it pays to use the East Coast web site, when you are going to spend £22 or more on several sets of tickets for other operators. Just buy them all in one go.
The marginal cost to East Coast is some drink and food. Willing to guess that's less £10 per first class rewards passenger. And you can only redeem your points on services of East Coast's choosing.
Compare that to the Nectar scheme currently offered by First. East Coast Rewards is better.
Hmm. I hope that's true.
I'm not sure I'd pay any heed to East Coast on this. It's not them that decides, surely, it's Stagecoach. (Even if it ends up being the same person manning the Twitter account in 6 months time!)
Either way, I will look to use, rather than earn points over the next few months.
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Yep, the scheme is much like the frequent flyer schemes of old. There is very little cost to EC when you redeem, since they're in charge of the redemption. They can be pretty damn sure they're only giving away seats that would be unsold.
Nectar is a strictly revenue based scheme, and as such not much in the way of 'gaming' you can do to increase your value.
The way I took it was that it will transfer but only in that it won't close down at the stroke of midnight when the franchise starts up. I didn't take it to mean that VTEC will keep it for the long haul.
That was how I read it - they'll presumably give some notice before withdrawing the scheme - that's what NXEC did with GNER's scheme.
Alternatively, 'transfer' might mean them turning your EC points into Nectar points. Horror of horrors!
The conundrum for most of us now with Rewards free tickets to use is whether to travel before 1st March or hang on as I had planned for the spring or summer months. Will there be an overlap to enable the use of free tickets after 1st March? Will there be an overlap of the East Coast 1st class complimentary food offer or will the new company provide their offer, if any, from 1st March.
Virgin East Coast are also to have a rewards scheme but it is early days to say what it is and whether the existing scheme will be honoured or you will have to redeem it
We wait and see. Best thing is if have 2000 points is to redeem some if not all before 28th February 2015