Nearly Caught Out by Expired Disabled Railcard

Blinkbonny

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Just booked my wife Coventry to Bath and Return. Blithely ticked Disabled Railcard of course as she's had one for several years.

Thanks to the many instances on this Forum, it suddenly occurred to me to check it - and sure enough it expired last March.

Should be more careful, you might think, but the thing is Every year without fail she gets a reminder and then renews. This year nothing.

She rarely travels by train, the card barely pays for itself, and she just assumed she was good to go.

It seems to me that in their refusal to grant any extensions to Railcards that have been largely redundant for much of the pandemic, they have taken the option of just letting them quietly expire without warning instead.

This is hardly good customer service - and it would have been interesting to see if TOC's would have been as keen to threaten prosecution to a Disabled card as they have been in several instances for Young Persons.

Thanks to the people on this forum that have shared their experiences she has avoided finding out. Just as well as she would have been devastated. <(
 
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The stock answer will always be "It's up to the customer to check", which, of course, it is. But I totally agree about the lack of reminders or extensions due to Covid. I only used my Senior card once last year, and haven't bothered to renew it. No reminders for me either, and I do mine online so they'll have my email details etc.
 

Vespa

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Took out a 3 year disabled railcard just before the pandemic started and its due to expire March next year, no extensions whatsoever and now First Class prices on Avanti have gone up even with railcard, I feel cheated.
 

Darandio

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Took out a 3 year disabled railcard just before the pandemic started and its due to expire March next year, no extensions whatsoever and now First Class prices on Avanti have gone up even with railcard, I feel cheated.

Tens of thousands of people are going to be exactly the same, possibly hundreds of thousands or even millions, i've no idea how many railcards were out there! I renewed our Friends and Family for a year in February 2020, it never got used once.
 

SteveM70

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The stock answer will always be "It's up to the customer to check", which, of course, it is. But I totally agree about the lack of reminders or extensions due to Covid. I only used my Senior card once last year, and haven't bothered to renew it. No reminders for me either, and I do mine online so they'll have my email details etc.

Yes, but personal responsibility is hardly difficult in this case. I have a terrible short/medium term memory so I put loads of notes and reminders in my phone. Something like a railcard as soon as I buy it I put a reminder in my phone for a fortnight before it expires
 

Fawkes Cat

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I can see why reminders weren't sent out when travel was being discouraged during the pandemic, but given that train travel is being encouraged again (witness the TV ad campaign) it's not too hard to imagine mailshotting everyone on the Railcard database with a double message:
- trains are back, and
- don't forget to check your Railcard is still in date.
 
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I imagine railways generally, will lose a lot of "goodwill" by being so intransigent overr lack of railcard extensions and/or not welcoming back users with reminders. Seems basic marketing to me...
 

100andthirty

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I imagine railways generally, will lose a lot of "goodwill" by being so intransigent overr lack of railcard extensions and/or not welcoming back users with reminders. Seems basic marketing to me...
The rail companies through the Rail Delivery Group recognised this issue, but it was at a time when they had to ask the government before doing anything that might have a cost. Extension of rail cards was deemed by DfT to have an unacceptable cost so permission to grant extensions was refused.
 

yorksrob

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It does seem like sending out a few Railcard reminders could potentially be an easy way to get people back to travel. I wonder if rail companies have suddenly discovered that their GDPR permissions weren't explicit enough to allow an unsolicited contact !
 

Dai Corner

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I bought my first Senior Railcard at a station ticket office when I turned 60 in May 2020. It was valid for 15 months but perhaps the extension was only for first-time purchasers?
 

jon0844

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It is always sensible to use your own calendar of choice (in my case Google Calendar) to set reminders, as there's no chance of you missing out because a) a reminder isn't sent b) it is sent but is filtered as spam c) you change details and so the reminder bounces.

So easy to do by setting a warning whenever your contract/card/subscription runs out, and you can set it to remind you at any chosen time beforehand.

No matter what phone I may have in a year or three, my calendar will still be accessible and current.
 

Horizon22

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I can see why reminders weren't sent out when travel was being discouraged during the pandemic, but given that train travel is being encouraged again (witness the TV ad campaign) it's not too hard to imagine mailshotting everyone on the Railcard database with a double message:
- trains are back, and
- don't forget to check your Railcard is still in date.

That would indeed seem like the sensible and easy option. So no doubt it won't be done!
 

AlterEgo

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Took out a 3 year disabled railcard just before the pandemic started and its due to expire March next year, no extensions whatsoever and now First Class prices on Avanti have gone up even with railcard, I feel cheated.
If the prices have gone up your monetary saving is even larger than it would have been, look on the bright side! :lol:

(but yes Avanti’s pricing is…high!)
 

Hadders

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The rail industry wanted to extend the validity of railcards but the Government said no, and they call the shots these days.
 

Starmill

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I bought my first Senior Railcard at a station ticket office when I turned 60 in May 2020. It was valid for 15 months but perhaps the extension was only for first-time purchasers?
It sounds to me like you got an unofficial free bonus from the booking clerk. I'd keep quiet about that!

I imagine railways generally, will lose a lot of "goodwill" by being so intransigent overr lack of railcard extensions and/or not welcoming back users with reminders. Seems basic marketing to me...
I think they're rather more interested in collecting railcard fees today than they are in goodwill in the future to be honest.
 

Hadders

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Post Hatfield railcards were given 15 months validity for the price of 12 to thank passengers for their patience during the disruption.
 

Bletchleyite

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Post Hatfield railcards were given 15 months validity for the price of 12 to thank passengers for their patience during the disruption.

Though this was quite insulting to the true regular holders of 16-25s (or YPs as I think they were called back then) because to maximise the time you hold one your final renewal has to be on the day before your 26th birthday, giving you validity through to 2 days before your 27th. Thus it was a bit of an empty gesture - sounded good, but basically cost them pretty much nowt, because you'd still buy the same number of Railcards overall.

A better gesture would have been to reduce the cost of renewals for existing holders for a year.
 

Hadders

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Though this was quite insulting to the true regular holders of 16-25s (or YPs as I think they were called back then) because to maximise the time you hold one your final renewal has to be on the day before your 26th birthday, giving you validity through to 2 days before your 27th. Thus it was a bit of an empty gesture - sounded good, but basically cost them pretty much nowt, because you'd still buy the same number of Railcards overall.

A better gesture would have been to reduce the cost of renewals for existing holders for a year.
You keep trotting this out, but at least they did something back then. Unlike today.
 

Bletchleyite

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You keep trotting this out, but at least they did something back then. Unlike today.

I actually felt more insulted by them doing that (something which was of no benefit to me whatsoever as a very loyal customer) than them doing nothing.

If you want to do something for your customers who you've disadvantaged through your incompetence, you don't leave out the most loyal. Reducing the renewal price (or even the purchase price) would have been much better.
 

Harold Hill

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I don't understand how anyone can feel hard done by in not being able to use their Railcard much in the last 18 months. The whole brilliant discount scheme is a bargain for anyone who buys into it and anyway, the money goes to a good cause: Save our Railways!

And as for needing a reminder surely adults don't need to be treated like children and add the up the expense: hundreds of thousands of cardholders so huge postage and stationery costs
 

Bletchleyite

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I don't understand how anyone can feel hard done by in not being able to use their Railcard much in the last 18 months. The whole brilliant discount scheme is a bargain for anyone who buys into it and anyway, the money goes to a good cause: Save our Railways!

And as for needing a reminder surely adults don't need to be treated like children and add the up the expense: hundreds of thousands of cardholders so huge postage and stationery costs

Reminders were never that I recall sent by post. If you buy online you did typically get an e-mail reminder which costs all of £0.

Really the best answer would be a Direct Debit scheme so you'd just be sent your renewal automatically.
 

Fawkes Cat

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I don't understand how anyone can feel hard done by in not being able to use their Railcard much in the last 18 months. The whole brilliant discount scheme is a bargain for anyone who buys into it and anyway, the money goes to a good cause: Save our Railways!
Does anyone else remember the 'Not the Nine O'clock News' sketch? 'I would sell my house and all its contents to help the BBC'.

I think that we have to accept that - rightly or wrongly - many (even most) people see their relationship with the railway as solely commercial, and expect to get some bang for their buck: giving money to the railways because it's a good thing to do is something of a minority view (even if it is a majority view round here).
 

Titfield

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It does seem like sending out a few Railcard reminders could potentially be an easy way to get people back to travel. I wonder if rail companies have suddenly discovered that their GDPR permissions weren't explicit enough to allow an unsolicited contact !

This seems to me to be highly likely. I have had a number of emails from organisations I have bought from asking me to sign up to new ts and cs for their email marketing. Some organisations seem to explicitly differentiate between what they call a "service email" and a "marketing email". IIRC the National Trust is one that does this.

Given the level of penalties for GDPR infringement one can imagine TOCS deciding not to take the risk as doubtless the govt would say their payments do not cover fines!
 

yorksrob

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This seems to me to be highly likely. I have had a number of emails from organisations I have bought from asking me to sign up to new ts and cs for their email marketing. Some organisations seem to explicitly differentiate between what they call a "service email" and a "marketing email". IIRC the National Trust is one that does this.

Given the level of penalties for GDPR infringement one can imagine TOCS deciding not to take the risk as doubtless the govt would say their payments do not cover fines!

Yes in my non railway work, we have to jump through the GDPR hoops to send anything out.
 

Darandio

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I don't understand how anyone can feel hard done by in not being able to use their Railcard much in the last 18 months. The whole brilliant discount scheme is a bargain for anyone who buys into it and anyway, the money goes to a good cause: Save our Railways!

What a strange concept. Purchase a railcard then be told during it's year of validity not to travel unless absolutely required so we do as we're told. But we should be grateful for the fact we bought it anyway?
 

Bletchleyite

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What a strange concept. Purchase a railcard then be told during it's year of validity not to travel unless absolutely required so we do as we're told. But we should be grateful for the fact we bought it anyway?

Interestingly people who had holidays, flights etc booked in this sort of position were seen legally as the contract being frustrated* and thus a refund being due. I guess this would only apply to a Railcard if the whole year had travel restrictions?

* In essence this means the company being unable to deliver for no fault of their own; in this case there's no requirement for them to deliver and no recourse to compensation for consequential loss of non-delivery, but there is also no obligation for the customer to pay anything towards the non-delivered service (and so gets a refund if paid in advance). In essence a "frustrated" contract relieves both sides of their obligations.
 

Darandio

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Interestingly people who had holidays, flights etc booked in this sort of position were seen legally as the contract being frustrated and thus a refund being due. I guess this would only apply to a Railcard if the whole year had travel restrictions?

I'm not sure. It's arguable that anyone purchasing a year long railcard on or around 16 March 2020 did have a whole year of rail based travel restrictions because despite any opening up that occured last summer the messaging was still effectively not to travel.

Losing the validity during this period is annoying yes but in the grand scheme of the last 18 months it isn't a huge deal. But for anyone to suggest we should somehow be grateful that we've funded the railway is laughable.
 

Scotrail314209

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I still need to renew my 16 to 25, but I'm weary on doing it given how fragile things are at the minute, and how quickly things can change.
 

Fawkes Cat

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I still need to renew my 16 to 25, but I'm weary on doing it given how fragile things are at the minute, and how quickly things can change.
Unless you are coming to the end of your entitlement (and so need to renew it or lose it) the rational advice must be to renew shortly before you expect to next use the card. Bear in mind that postal renewals may take longer than usual to arrive: when I got our new Two Together card it did take the full five working days to arrive.
 

Starmill

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If you want to do something for your customers who you've disadvantaged through your incompetence, you don't leave out the most loyal.
Great business for them though isn't it? Occasional users get an incentive to become very slightly more frequent users, while the best customers continue to hand over their cash on a frequent basis, without it costing anything to secure their loyalty.

I imagine that's precisely what the thinking is today, in England at least. It is exactly the kind of thing that HMT love.

Unless you are coming to the end of your entitlement (and so need to renew it or lose it) the rational advice must be to renew shortly before you expect to next use the card. Bear in mind that postal renewals may take longer than usual to arrive: when I got our new Two Together card it did take the full five working days to arrive.
Yes. And if you want to renew in person you can do it on the day of your next trip, if you arrange to start your travels from somewhere with an open ticket office at your time of departure.

Really the best answer would be a Direct Debit scheme so you'd just be sent your renewal automatically.
If they'd had some commercial nous, they could have done a direct debit scheme at £7.99 a month, with a general offer of your first month for £1. If you're an existing cardholder as of a suitable cutoff date in early 2020 you could have your first three months at £1 each. Thus a price rise resulting in long-term increase in railcard revenue, a small but actually useful reward for the existing customer base, a good sign-up offer to appeal to the wider public who do not travel by train very often, and a long-term 'softener' of the big price rise for the card by moving to monthly billing, meaning less of a need to put the cash up front.

As ever with the railway, any such opportunity was totally missed.
 
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