Opportunistic ticket cancellation charges? "You & Yours", BBC Radio 4

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petegunstone

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Today's episode of this consumer affairs proframme featured a piece on ticket cancellation charges, specifically involving the Caledonian Sleeper and Tge Trainline.

1. Caledonian Sleeper giving incorrect advice concerning amending a booking from one day to the next: £80 for a family of four when only one leg (ie four bookings) needed changing, which should have cost £40.

2. The Trainline. I can't remember the details, but they withdrew/reduced the fee when they discovered that You & Yours were involved.

3. Input from Transport Focus, raising concern of the seeming opportunistic approach of ticket vendors.

One understands that perhaps fees are appropriate, but in this day and age of computerised bookings, heaping multiple booking charges for what is essentially one booking has always seemed somewhat unnecessary to me.

And why £10 to change a booking?


I imagine the episode will be posted shortly here. The piece began c.15 minutes before the end of the programme.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qps9
 
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Hadders

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It would have been better had the programme advised people never to use the Trainline as they charge booking fees for every booking, unlike train operating company websites which have exactly the same fares and prices without the fees.
 

najaB

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One understands that perhaps fees are appropriate, but in this day and age of computerised bookings, heaping multiple booking charges for what is essentially one booking has always seemed somewhat unnecessary to me.
No more than they are for airlines, concerts, etc. The fees aren't intended to precisely reflect the costs involved but rather serve to encourage people to take care in making the correct booking in the first place, as well as covering the back-office costs that are incurred when changes/refunds need to be processed.
And why £10 to change a booking?
Because that is what the National Rail Conditions of Carriage allows:
NRCoC said:
[You can] Get a refund from the Ticket Seller on unused Anytime or Off-Peak tickets if you decide not to travel for any reason, less an administration charge which will not be more than £10.
 
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kieron

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Because that is what the National Rail Conditions of Carriage allows:
That's an answer to a different question, surely? It also permits them to charge any lower figure, or nothing at all.

I know the Southern web site charges nothing under some circumstances, but I don't know of any others.

It doesn't sound as though this issue was the focus of the radio programme, though.
 

The Ham

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The thing I find annoying is that if you buy a ticket from a ticket office and switch it for travel on another day there is no charge, yet if you try with a prepurchased ticket you are charged even if it is an anytime ticket.
 

najaB

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That's an answer to a different question, surely? It also permits them to charge any lower figure, or nothing at all.
The question was "why £10" and the answer is "because that's what they can charge" - do you know of any TOCs that charge anything between £0 and £10?
 

najaB

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...yet if you try with a prepurchased ticket you are charged even if it is an anytime ticket.
That depends on the vendor. If I buy tickets through my work account I'm not charged for cancellations or changes.
 

najaB

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Colour me intrigued. Work account ?
We have a corporate account with TheTrainline. Because we spend a fair amount on train tickets (into seven figures annually), we get free amends and cancellations (well technically the £10 charge is applied, but it's rebated afterwards).
 

yorkie

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Where changes are possible, Trainsplit will only charge one £10 admin fee per booking reference, for bookings made with them.

So, for a long CrossCountry (XC) journey, which would obviously require a huge number of tickets to avoid XC's longer distance premium fares, a passenger may have something like 8 tickets, which XC would take great delight in charging £80 in admin fees, while trainsplit would only charge you a tenner, if all tickets were booked in one transaction.

The rail industry is not going to change its ways, no matter what we say.
 

ComUtoR

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Cheers.

I wonder if that's worth suggesting to my TOC
 

bignosemac

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So, for a long CrossCountry (XC) journey, which would obviously require a huge number of tickets to avoid XC's longer distance premium fares, a passenger may have something like 8 tickets, which XC would take great delight in charging £80 in admin fees, while trainsplit would only charge you a tenner, if all tickets were booked in one transaction.

Late last year I had a 4 point split with XC Advances purchased from their website that I changed at a station for just £10 total. Prior to that a call was placed to CrossCountry where they said they'd change them for £10 total too, but the timescales to post new tickets weren't conducive. Yes, their online change facility will charge £10 per ticket, but then so will all other TOCs who offer such a facility.

Can you corroborate your assertion that they would be delighted to charge per ticket? The online facility is emotionless and can't express delight.

CrossCountry do not operate any stations so any decision on whether to charge per transaction or per ticket is down to the operator (or individual staff member) of the station.

Had I bought my 4 point split from Trainsplit I would have paid around £3 more than from CrossCountry.
 

yorkie

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Late last year I had a 4 point split with XC Advances purchased from their website that I changed at a station for just £10 total. Prior to that a call was placed to CrossCountry where they said they'd change them for £10 total too, but the timescales to post new tickets weren't conducive. Yes, their online change facility will charge £10 per ticket, but then so will all other TOCs who offer such a facility.

Can you corroborate your assertion that they would be delighted to charge per ticket? The online facility is emotionless and can't express delight.
I'm not going to get into an argument, but we do agree XC charge £10 per ticket. :)
CrossCountry do not operate any stations so any decision on whether to charge per transaction or per ticket is down to the operator (or individual staff member) of the station.
So when the additional fee was waived for you, it was not waived by XC.
Had I bought my 4 point split from Trainsplit I would have paid around £3 more than from CrossCountry.
Are you sure about that? What was the journey and what ticket(s) did you buy? Are you doing a like-for-like comparison, ie. a comparison of either searching for the throughout journey on both sites, or a comparison of adding each ticket individually to your basket for both sites?

(A comparison of a through fare search on Trainsplit with adding individual tickets into the basket on XC wouldn't be a valid comparison)
 

dquebec

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Surely a £10 fee is required as a deterrent?

If you buy the last of an AP fare, you're preventing somebody else from getting it. If you subsequently excess it up to a walkup fare with no fee involved, you've potentially lost the railway an additional customer, who may not have been able to afford the next AP tier or walkup fare.
 

yorkie

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Surely a £10 fee is required as a deterrent?

If you buy the last of an AP fare, you're preventing somebody else from getting it. If you subsequently excess it up to a walkup fare with no fee involved, you've potentially lost the railway an additional customer, who may not have been able to afford the next AP tier or walkup fare.
I take your point that in this particular circumstance an admin fee is justified, but whether it should be as much as £10, and whether it can reasonably be applied to every single ticket, is dubious.

I'd also argue that they should be more honest and give it a more appropriate name, to indicate that it is actually a deterrent.
 

bignosemac

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I'm not going to get into an argument, but we do agree XC charge £10 per ticket. :)

Only online. As do all TOCs who offer such a facility. Do all those other TOCs take delight in doing so? You did read the bit about my call to XC? Had there been time to do the changes by phone/post they would have charged me £10 in total.

Are you sure about that? What was the journey and what ticket(s) did you buy? Are you doing a like-for-like comparison, ie. a comparison of either searching for the throughout journey on both sites, or a comparison of adding each ticket individually to your basket for both sites?

(A comparison of a through fare search on Trainsplit with adding individual tickets into the basket on XC wouldn't be a valid comparison)

Sure about it thanks. Avonmouth to Sheffield one way, splitting at Cheltenham Spa, Birmingham New Street and Derby. Identical times, all Advance Purchase. Trainsplit cost around £3 more for the same Advance Purchase tickets than me buying direct from CrossCountry. Had I opted for postal delivery rather than TVM collection then Trainsplit would have been another 50p more.
 
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yorkie

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Can you reproduce this? The tickets should be the same price (unless XC do an online discount, or discount to which you're entitled on their website?)

If XC wish to make it their policy to only charge one £10 admin fee per booking, I will take back my comments, but I very much doubt they will do so, given previous comments made by staff at that company. If they've had a change of heart, great!
 

bignosemac

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Can you reproduce this? The tickets should be the same price (unless XC do an online discount, or discount to which you're entitled on their website?)

What's to reproduce? I thought you would have worked it out by now...

10%... share of saving... ;)
 

yorkie

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But if you put the tickets into both sites individually it is the same price?

If you search for the through journey, Trainsplit is cheaper?

So the only way to say Trainsplit costs more is if comparing adding each ticket individually on XC with searching for the through journey on Trainsplit? Isn't that an apples & oranges comparison?
 

bignosemac

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End result of through journey enquiry on Trainsplit and individual leg search on CrossCountry is Trainsplit being more expensive.

Trainsplit does the legwork and I understand why they charge for it. But when comparing the final transaction cost of identical tickets I always go for the cheapest option.
 

bb21

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In which case you are not in their target market, as one of the advantages of using Trainsplit is convenience.

You obviously prefer to book all your tickets separately without paying a fee, and do all the hard work yourself. Others may prefer to pay a moderate sum for the service.
 

najaB

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So the only way to say Trainsplit costs more is if comparing adding each ticket individually on XC with searching for the through journey on Trainsplit? Isn't that an apples & oranges comparison?
Not if you already know the split points. For example if it's a journey you make frequently.

If you don't, then Trainsplit is the better (and probably cheaper) option.
 

island

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That depends on the vendor. If I buy tickets through my work account I'm not charged for cancellations or changes.

Southeastern also does not charge admin fees for refunds of walk-up tickets booked at its booking offices or on its website.
 

yorkie

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End result of through journey enquiry on Trainsplit and individual leg search on CrossCountry is Trainsplit being more expensive.
So trainsplit is cheaper when comparing s through journey search. XC and Trainsplit are the same price if you add each ticket to the basket of the respective sites individually.
 

reb0118

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For clarification Trainsplit does not charge a fee if it can not find a cheaper split or splits for your journey. So if you input the cheapest split fares into your basket individually with Trainsplit it won't (in theory) be able to find you a cheaper combination so therefore no fee will be charged and you will be no worse of than if you had used a TOC's own site - special promotions excepted.
 
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