East Coast Seat Selection Problems

Status
Not open for further replies.

Bungle73

On Moderation
Joined
19 Aug 2011
Messages
2,583
Location
Kent
OK, I posted about this in the other thread but I thought it would be better in a thread of its own.

I'm trying to book a FC Advance ticket on the 12:30 KGX to YRK service on the 15th of October. I want to change the seat that's been allocated, but which ever one I choose it says it's not available!
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

John @ home

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
1 Mar 2008
Messages
5,150
OK, I posted about this in the other thread but I thought it would be better in a thread of its own.

I'm trying to book a FC Advance ticket on the 12:30 KGX to YRK service on the 15th of October. I want to change the seat that's been allocated, but which ever one I choose it says it's not available!
If you have the last seat available at a particular price in your basket, the computer will not allow you to change it. East Coast know about this bug.

The reason is that the change process allocates a second seat from the same quota, and holds both until you accept or decline the change offered. This can't be done if there are no more seats available in the quota.

It seems that East Coast thinks that a solution to this problem would introduce more problems elsewhere. I don't know whether these would be problems for the passenger or for the train company.
 

Bungle73

On Moderation
Joined
19 Aug 2011
Messages
2,583
Location
Kent
I'm quite sure it's not that because there are no other seats reserved on this service.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Also the train isn't until the middle of October so I sincerely doubt all the tickets have gone already.
 

John @ home

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
1 Mar 2008
Messages
5,150
I'm quite sure it's not that because there are no other seats reserved on this service.
What makes you think that this particular fare does not have a quota of 1 on this service?

To test, try a dummy booking and place another ticket with the same railcard discount for the same date and time into your basket. See whether the second potential booking is for the same price and whether it can be amended.

Be careful you don't exceed the 2-hour time limit for a ticket in your East Coast basket.
 

Bungle73

On Moderation
Joined
19 Aug 2011
Messages
2,583
Location
Kent
What makes you think that this particular fare does not have a quota of 1 on this service?
Because I've booked this service before and changed seats with no problems.

To test, try a dummy booking and place another ticket with the same railcard discount for the same date and time into your basket. See whether the second potential booking is for the same price and whether it can be amended.

Be careful you don't exceed the 2-hour time limit for a ticket in your East Coast basket.
Now it's not even showing that fare (£26.10, it's showing £34.50) now! I'm still certain that there is a problem somewhere because, like I said, I have booked this service before.
 

John @ home

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
1 Mar 2008
Messages
5,150
What makes you think that this particular fare does not have a quota of 1 on this service?
Because I've booked this service before and changed seats with no problems.
But these are Advance tickets. They are not regulated. The train company is free to offer more seats, or fewer seats, at any price depending on day of the week, sporting events, or anything else they choose to take into account.

I would expect the number of Advance tickets available at the lowest prices to be very low for morning journeys leaving central Scotland in the period 12 - 20 October because that is school half-term.
Now it's not even showing that fare (£26.10, it's showing £34.50) now!
That is consistent with there having been a very small quota of Advance tickets at the lowest prices on that train.
I'm still certain that there is a problem somewhere because, like I said, I have booked this service before.
For several years, I have bought East Coast Advance London - Leeds tickets in the shoulder peak. In September 2010 I paid £18.70 and in September 2011 £29.05. In the last 3 weeks, EC have stopped making tickets at these fares available in the shoulder peak, with the lowest price £36.60 for London departures between 1500 and 1859. The fact that I've booked these services before gives me no right to demand seats are made available now at the lower prices.
 
Last edited:

Bungle73

On Moderation
Joined
19 Aug 2011
Messages
2,583
Location
Kent
Yeah.

Sorry, it still doesn't make any sense. Why would they only make a single cheap ticket available when the train is in the middle of the day, is lightly loaded, there's nothing going on that week, and several previous times I've booked that train there's been plenty available?
 

leyscjd

Member
Joined
8 Apr 2011
Messages
40
Because that's how EC's pricing policy works-they would rather carry fresh air around than fill empty seats.

No doubt promotional tickets (usually linked to a local newspaper) will become available nearer the time so I would wait and book then.
 

Bungle73

On Moderation
Joined
19 Aug 2011
Messages
2,583
Location
Kent
If I wait no suitable offers may come along, and the cheaper fares will have gone. I might just try booking another service.
 

philjo

Established Member
Joined
9 Jun 2009
Messages
2,611
Yeah.

Sorry, it still doesn't make any sense. Why would they only make a single cheap ticket available when the train is in the middle of the day, is lightly loaded, there's nothing going on that week, and several previous times I've booked that train there's been plenty available?
Probably to encourage passengers from Kings Cross to York to use the xx:08 stoppers
 

Bungle73

On Moderation
Joined
19 Aug 2011
Messages
2,583
Location
Kent
I just booked the 13:30 train (exactly the same service, but an hour later) and was able to select my seat fine.
 

calc7

Established Member
Joined
8 Aug 2011
Messages
2,097
If it's as quiet as you say it is surely you can just take a free seat of your choice?
 

mallard

Established Member
Joined
12 Apr 2009
Messages
1,304
If it's as quiet as you say it is surely you can just take a free seat of your choice?
Technically, that's against the Advance Ticket T&Cs, which says:

Where applicable, you must travel in the Class and reserved seat(s) shown on the ticket(s).
In reality however, I've certainly never been challenged for sitting in a different seat. Although with my local TOC, you almost never get the type of seat requested, even when there are seats like that free in the same carriage.
 

island

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Dec 2010
Messages
11,163
Location
0036
Yeah.

Sorry, it still doesn't make any sense. Why would they only make a single cheap ticket available when the train is in the middle of the day, is lightly loaded, there's nothing going on that week, and several previous times I've booked that train there's been plenty available?
Because EC thinks it will sell the seats at a higher price.
 

rail-britain

Established Member
Joined
12 Aug 2007
Messages
4,104
I have had a similar problem with Cross Country
When this occurs, I send them the train times and seat details, and a list of the actual seats I was interested in (in priority)

I would suggest you do the same with East Coast

Equally, when I book First Class Advance tickets with Virgin Trains I do not encounter any issue and can allocate any seats (apart from those reserved already obviously)
 
Joined
21 Oct 2010
Messages
1,040
I have had a similar problem with Cross Country
When this occurs, I send them the train times and seat details, and a list of the actual seats I was interested in (in priority)

I would suggest you do the same with East Coast
And what is the response you get to that, if any? As as already been said EC are aware of the problem but can't at prescent do anything about it.
 

rail-britain

Established Member
Joined
12 Aug 2007
Messages
4,104
And what is the response you get to that, if any?
As above, Cross Country don't have any issues and send me the revised Seat Reservation by email later the same day (or next business day)

I have also checked back and found I performed the same with two East Coast reservations, again they didn't have any issue changing these
The replacements arrived by post the following week
 

Bungle73

On Moderation
Joined
19 Aug 2011
Messages
2,583
Location
Kent
I have had a similar problem with Cross Country
When this occurs, I send them the train times and seat details, and a list of the actual seats I was interested in (in priority)

I would suggest you do the same with East Coast

Equally, when I book First Class Advance tickets with Virgin Trains I do not encounter any issue and can allocate any seats (apart from those reserved already obviously)
I've already booked a later service.

I have sent a message to EC to see what they say about it though, as I am still convinced it is a system error of some kind.
 

John @ home

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
1 Mar 2008
Messages
5,150
I have sent a message to EC to see what they say about it
Good. Please tell us what they say.
I am still convinced it is a system error of some kind.
Your description of the problem as a "system error" is perfectly accurate and a little more polite than my use of the word "bug" in post #2. East Coast know about the problem and have written to a member of this forum apologising for the inconvenience and saying that a solution would introduce more problems elsewhere. By doing so, they are providing a poor quality of customer service and losing high value customers for whom the particular reserved seat is important. That's their choice.

Perhaps they're using the same software firm which was responsible for both:
  • the issuing earlier this year of reservations for a 750-mile rail journey with tickets between origin and destination towns less than 30 miles apart, and
  • the display earlier this week of the South Korean rather than North Korean flag at an Olympic event.
 

mallard

Established Member
Joined
12 Apr 2009
Messages
1,304
As a software developer myself, the issue is entirely understandable and doesn't sound at all easy to fix.

When the user selects a ticket, the software "holds" that fare, tied to a seat reservation, to prevent someone else from booking it. In order to change the seat, it has to "hold" the new reservation before letting go of the current one, otherwise someone else could book at that moment and take it away from you. Unfortunately, if there isn't a second reservation at the same price to "hold", it can't do this.

If it gave up the first reservation before taking the new one, then someone else could book the ticket at that moment and the user loses out.

The only way to fix it would be to have a special, "this fare is 'held' for the customer, but he/she is currently changing their seat reservation" state, which would likely require a lot of changes deep in the system.
 

Bungle73

On Moderation
Joined
19 Aug 2011
Messages
2,583
Location
Kent
But the chances of no other fare at that price being available are virtually nil imo. The tickets for that service only became available yesterday, and looking at the seating plan the train is empty atm.
 

philjo

Established Member
Joined
9 Jun 2009
Messages
2,611
It maybe that those fares haven't been fully released yet for that service.

I was making a booking a few months ago on the day EC had supposedly released the fares for that week.
My journey involved changing at Newark for the stopper back to Stevenage but the EC site was not bringing up any fares for those connections. it turned out that the advance quotas for the stopper had not been released when they released the other fares.
I contacted EC customer services. it took them 3 days to respond. in the meantime I found I was able to book the tickets for the trains I wanted - it looked like the quotas for the stoppers had been added a day after the website claimed that they were available.
 
Last edited:

John @ home

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
1 Mar 2008
Messages
5,150
But the chances of no other fare at that price being available are virtually nil
This is where we differ. Your opinion is that it is very unlikely that, when you first tried to book, East Coast had one and only one remaining £26.10 Railcard First Class Advance London - York ticket for the 1230 train on 15 October. My opinion is that it is the most likely possibility. It allows the train company to advertise a low headline fare with minimal potential loss of revenue.

You chose not to buy the ticket and, after 2 hours, it became available again. At the time of writing, one ticket is available for £26.10 but two cost £69, that is £34.50 each. This is consistent with the known imperfections in the EC booking system. Have you observed any symptoms which do not fit my hypothesis? In the absence of these, we can only agree to differ.

What makes you think that this particular fare does not have a quota of 1 on this service?

To test, try a dummy booking and place another ticket with the same railcard discount for the same date and time into your basket. See whether the second potential booking is for the same price and whether it can be amended.
Welcome to the forum, xzsdfds!

You'll find it easier to refer to earlier posts in a thread if you use the "Quote" button rather than copying and pasting into a reply.
 

yorkie

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
6 Jun 2005
Messages
50,366
Location
Yorkshire
But the chances of no other fare at that price being available are virtually nil imo. The tickets for that service only became available yesterday, and looking at the seating plan the train is empty atm.
In this case, I'd say the chances are in fact virtually 100%, not virtually nil. John @ Home's analysis is almost certainly correct, and I've experienced this error/bug myself on numerous occasions.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top