Is retailer liable to offer refund if rail service provided is poor?

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by gray1404, 9 Feb 2019.

  1. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    I recent made a journey with a friend of mine and the provision of the rail service was poor. We both had the same ticket types but booked on different sites, one was booked on Cross Country website and the other set on Transpennine Express. All the travel was on neither of these train companies.

    Although non of the services booked and traveled on were delayed or cancelled. There were other aspects of the service that were poor. This was things like overcrowded trains, toilets not working, poor customer service and not providing services for a disabled traveler. I have taken this up with the TOCs concerned that travel occurred on and am waiting to hear back. However, having discussed this today with my credit card company, they advised me that I do have basis for making a Visa charge back claim for the value of the tickets. However, they would recommend that I take this up with the retailer who I purchased the tickets from first and ask them to issue a refund onto my card before getting back in touch with the bank to start the charge back process. When I checked to confirm and said that the retailer was different to the train companies traveled with they confirmed that in terms of a refund back onto my card for poor service provision, it would be the retailer who this claim would be against and that any customer service complaint to the operators I traveled with is separate to the card transaction.

    Is this correct that in terms of rail ticket sales, the retailer has some liability even if travel took place on a different TOC?
     
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  3. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You need to be a bit more specific on what grounds you believe you are entitled to a refund.
     
  4. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    If you like I can PM you the information. It is a bit private due to the fact of the disability matter.
     
  5. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    This kind of matter is typically for the TOC's Customer Services to deal with. Retailers only handle situations where a refund is being given due to the ticket being unused, either because you didn't want to use it (less £10 in most cases) or because you couldn't because of disruption (in which case no £10).

    It doesn't strike me as a valid case for a chargeback. You could in a way (though tenuously) argue that a chargeback could render the passenger liable for prosecution, as the fare would then not have been paid.
     
  6. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yeah alright, it will depend on what the exact issues are which is why I don't want to pass an opinion yet.
     
  7. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    Thanks.
     
  8. Mathew S

    Mathew S Established Member

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    I imagine the OP would be arguing that the service hadn't been delivered "with reasonable care and skill" under the 2015 consumer rights legislation. In which case, the passenger would be at liberty to demand some sort of remedy, such as a refund. If the OP paid on a credit card, then there's also the matter of the card issuer's joint liability for the service purchased. Either way, it sounds to me as though the OP would have a very strong case for making a chargeback if the TOC doesn't cooperate.
     
  9. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    But if the TOC doesn't cooperate, the retailer could be out of pocket? That doesn't seem fair.

    Would the retailer then have a case against the TOC? If anyone has any more information on how this works, I'd be interested to hear it.
     
  10. Mathew S

    Mathew S Established Member

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    Someone else will know better then me, but my understanding is that the law makes the retailer - ie. whomever the consumer pays to provide the service - liable. If there then needs to be some arrangement/litigation between retailer and TOC to sort things out then that's not the consumers concern.

    The legislation wasn't really drafted with any idea that a consumer might pay one company for a service provided by a totally different company. The railway is, in this respect, something of an oddity.
     
  11. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    As an update, thus far TPE web support said I need to complain to their TPE Customer Relations. Which I did but unfortunately they first responded by saying that "we cannot offer any competition on this occasion because pre booked assistance was not arranged in advance." Then when I asked for this to be looked at again they replied saying I needed to complain to the company I travelled with and they are just the retailer of the ticket. They then named the wrong TOC for me to contact. I am in the process of trying to get them to review their decision or get a deadlock letter to try and get a view from the Railway Ombudsman.

    Cross Country web support took exactly the same line that I need to complain to the TOC I traveled with. When I pressed the matter they said I should contact XC customer relations department ie. as I wasn't satisfied with the response from XC web support. I have done this and am still awaiting a reply. I am interested to see how this plays out in relation to the retailers liability under the Consumer Rights Act.
     
  12. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    Interesting outcome, TPE has taken the view they will issue a refund and goodwill gesture. They were understanding of the situation once I was in touch with the right person.

    XC on the other hand have taken the view, confirmed by a Manager, that regardless of the retailer it I the operator of the service who is liable, not them. They have issued a deadlock letter.
     
  13. alistairlees

    alistairlees Established Member

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    Travel agent? Insurance broker? There's nothing unusual in there being an intermediary selling a service provided by another company.
     
  14. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    Really poor show from Cross Country Customer Relations Duty Manager this afternoon. Not only was he unable to provide me with the address on which a Letter Before Action should be sent, said I had to get that from their website, but he also told me that any such paperwork has to come from my Solicitor (not myself). This should be fun.
     
  15. Mathew S

    Mathew S Established Member

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    No, but in both those examples it's clear cut that the consumer has a contract with the retailer. Also, with both travel agents and insurance brokers, the retailer plays a key role in providing the contracted service to the consumer.
    Rail tickets aren't like that. I could buy a ticket from my local, Northern-run, station for travel in, say, Cornwall. A contract which the retailer will never have any role whatsoever in delivering, nor do they provide me with any advice, other than printing a ticket. It is, legally, a really weird situation.
     

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