Plusbus Refunds

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Starmill, 29 Aug 2019.

  1. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    Can I get a refund on a Plusbus if the bus driver refuses to accept the ticket?

    I have a Cardiff Plusbus which I bought today at an SWR ticket office. The driver of Stagecoach Wales X3 has refused to allow me to travel on his bus, but https://www.plusbus.info/Cardiff indicates that Stagecoach do accept Cardiff Plusbus. My intended journey was to Ipswich Road, within the Plusbus area. A long and protracted conversation about where the bus was going and if the ticket was valid took place. He pointed to the part where it says 'CARDIFF+BUS' and insisted that this meant that the ticket is valid only on services run by Cardiff Bus. I explained again and again that that's not an operator name, but a product name. The words PLUSBUS DAY are printed in large letters across the top of the ticket.

    Whose responsibility is it to pay the £2.30 refund in these circumstances? Should I return the ticket to SWR? I haven't bought another bus ticket.
     
    Last edited: 30 Aug 2019
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  3. maniacmartin

    maniacmartin Established Member Associate Staff Senior Fares Advisor

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    See https://plusbus.info/frequently-asked-questions , q14
    The link in their answer goes to the NRCoT for the terms and conditions.

    My interpretation of this is therefore it should be treated the same as if you are denied boarding for a train for a valid ticket. I would try claiming from SWR as the Ticket seller, under NRCoT section 26(b), but I'm not that hopeful that you'll be successful.
     
  4. skifans

    skifans Member

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    It wasn't a plusbus ticket but I have successfully had Stagecoach refund me the cost of the single I was forced to buy in similar circumstances when my day pass was wrongly rejected by a driver, I sent a email to customer services and found it all delpt with very quickly. Honestly I suspect you are likely to be better off asking Stagecoach to refund the cost of your X3 ticket then getting a rail operator to refund the plusbus.
     
  5. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Established Member

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    Even if SWR accepted your story and took your word that you hadn't used it for another bus journey the admin charge may exceed the value of the ticket so you'd get nothing.
     
  6. Merseysider

    Merseysider Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Email Stagecoach South Wales with a scan of the Plusbus, asking for reimbursement.

    Let Plusbus know directly too, as Stagecoach shouldn't be getting paid for tickets they aren't accepting.
     
  7. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    Are they permitted to charge an admin fee under condition 26? It's unclear.
     
  8. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    Sadly as I mentioned this wasn't offered so I didn't use the bus in the end.
     
  9. alistairlees

    alistairlees Established Member

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    In my view you are entitled to a full refund from the retailer; there is no admin fee to pay. The retailer should then raise this with Journey Solutions who administer the plusbus scheme. There’s no harm in you writing directly to them too; if you DM me I will give you the correct contact details.
     
  10. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Established Member

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    Despite the Stagecoach driver rejecting your ticket you could have used Cardiff Bus who also serve Ipswich Road so it could be argued that you chose not to travel rather than being unable to so paragraphs (a) and (b) don't apply and an admin fee is potentially payable?
     
  11. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    It seems to me that Stagecoach are in breach of contract, and that this alone is sufficient to trigger a right to a refund? It isn't massively clear with respect to condition 26 though, I see.
     
  12. skifans

    skifans Member

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    Sorry, I had missed this. I suspect you are going to struggle then without any hard evidence, if you remember the approximate time you could ask them to check their CCTV for you? No idea how likely that is. Best of luck though.
     
  13. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Established Member

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    Not at all clear, I agree. How about this analogy?

    If you planned to catch a particular Northern train which didn't run and decided not to make your journey on a TPE one instead would you have a right to a refund without deduction of an admin fee? I'd suggest not, as the railway industry would have got you there.

    Stagecoach didn't fulfil any contract they may have had with you but Plusbus would have if you'd been willing to catch a Cardiff Bus bus.

    (I'm not sure who your contract is with. It might be SWR who sold you the ticket)
     
  14. Merseysider

    Merseysider Established Member Fares Advisor

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    ...then the passenger is entitled to a full refund, without an admin fee, as provided for in the National Rail Conditions of Travel.
     
  15. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Established Member

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    Yes. So my analogy is a poor one. Sorry.
     
  16. Skimpot flyer

    Skimpot flyer Member

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    As an aside, i learned one cannot assume that a Plusbus ticket is valid on all bus operators at your destination station.
    I once went to Brighton and, having made a couple of journeys using the Plusbus already, decided to get a 700 (no, not a train!) to the King Alfred Leisure Centre in Hove. The driver said ‘not valid on Stagecoach services, I’m afraid’. Sure enough, the wording specifically states B&H Plusbus - Brighton & Hove Buses being the biggest operator. Luckily, due to the pouring rain, the driver took pity on me and let me travel!
     
  17. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    The rules don't say much on what should happen if staff get it wrong - perhaps they should.

    The bus operator voluntarily participate in that scheme and should accept the ticket. If they don't then it's down to them to make good on it.
     
  18. AnkleBoots

    AnkleBoots Member

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    The Stagecoach buses in Edinburgh have a sticker on the door saying Plusbus accepted, I think I've seen that in other places as well.
     
  19. CyrusWuff

    CyrusWuff Established Member

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    As an aside, Journey Solutions (who have overall responsibility for PlusBus) is a partnership between Arriva, First, Go-Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach.

    The way it works is that there's a "lead" operator for a given area and they contact all of the other bus companies inviting them to participate in PlusBus and agree the revenue split amongst themselves.

    Once established, each Operator is responsible for informing their Drivers about the scheme, which includes boundaries, ticket types, specimen tickets, etc.

    With most of the schemes having been in place for a number of years, it's highly likely that the relevant notices have disappeared at some garages, or Drivers simply haven't looked at them recently, hence the occasional issues experienced.

    I'd suggest contacting both the bus company and Journey Solutions if you experience a problem. Unfortunately JS only provide a contact form (https://www.plusbus.info/contact) rather than an actual email address, however.
     
  20. CyrusWuff

    CyrusWuff Established Member

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    The driver was mistaken...It says Brighton & Hove PlusBus because it covers both areas, and Shoreham for that matter!

    The PlusBus site says it's valid on Brighton & Hove (obviously), Compass Travel, Cuckmere Buses, Metrobus, Stagecoach and The Big Lemon, including B&H Night Buses until 0430.
     
  21. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    There's also the issue of extraordinary levels on turnover in the bus driving grade. Sometimes the finer details of ticket acceptance gets lost somewhere in the training process.

    Plusbus is also abused. When I drove the TfL 607 service between White City and Uxbridge, there were a few people who got on and showed me a Slough Plusbus and got shirty when I told them it wasn't valid and they'd have to pay. Every other driver let them travel apparently as they didn't know/care enough to challenge it. It was always Slough as well - either someone in that ticket office was telling people that it was valid on London bus services or there was some fraud going on!
     
  22. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Why would you incur an admin fee for a refund where the ticket has not been accepted per its conditions?
     
  23. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Established Member

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    That's the problem. The ticket is subject to the NRCoT which specify a refund without admin fee "if the train you intended to use is cancelled, delayed or your reservation will not be honoured, you decide not to travel" but is silent on Starmill's situation.

    I've argued that if his intention was to travel to Ipswich Road (as opposed to testing Plusbus T&Cs and bus drivers' knowledge of them) he could/should have taken one of the other very frequent buses.
     
  24. ThisIsSurbiton

    ThisIsSurbiton Member

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    I agree, but I don't think the strict terms should matter here. The industry has clearly failed and discretion should be shown to refund it. I had a similar case in Tonbridge where the bus never appeared at all (no real-time on Arriva in those days). I never pursued it but I should have. As a bus was never used in this case, it's hard to go after Staghecoach, even though the fault is all theirs. Certainly, a note to them and Journey Solutions would be in order if the OP has the time.
     
  25. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    Out of interest, how are intending customers supposed to know about alternative bus services from different bus stops provided by different operators?

    In the past I've told people how to get to where I am by bus and I've given then the details of the stop and number. If they were incorrectly refused travel, they may struggle to work out what alternative services to take.

    So I'm not sure what your proposals are regarding additional liabilities to be placed on passengers?
     
  26. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    I don't feel I should be obliged to justify my journey here, but as apparently it's in question I will. I was heading to my hotel at the back of the David Lloyd Health Club near the Morrions to leave my bag before going out in Cardiff for the night.

    The frequency of the services is irrelevant given the alternatives are slower bus routes, go from different city centre stops to the one I was at, take longer to get there, and after spending such a long time arguing with the driver that my arrival time would have been long delayed. I would also have been obliged to look up an alternative bus route, which I hadn't because I planned to use the X3. The driver failed to suggest an alternative service beyond 'Cardiff Bus' which means little to me.
     
    Last edited: 30 Aug 2019
  27. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Established Member

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    Apologies to Starmill for implying his intended journey might not have been a genuine one. It hadn't occurred to me that his hotel was there. The area is mostly nondescript retail sheds and Ipswich Road is the last stop served by the X3 in Cardiff. I jumped to the wrong conclusion.

    I take your points about finding alternative buses, Cardiff being particularly confusing for bus passengers as there is no bus station and the stops are scattered all over the city centre. I only know the ones for the X5, my bus home. Otherwise I use Traveline Cymru or Google Maps.

    Yorkie raises the interesting question about how far a passenger should be expected to go to mitigate a problem of an operator's making. Personally, I'd have regarded Stagecoach rejecting my ticket as an annoyance, used my smartphone to find an alternative bus and got to the hotel, albeit a few minutes later than planned. Then I'd complain to Stagecoach and Journey Solutions.

    However I'd see things differently if the journey was a rural one and the next bus wasn't for an hour (or the next morning) and/or the passenger wasn't an experienced navigator and public transport user.
     
  28. alistairlees

    alistairlees Established Member

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    @Starmill as I said in post 8 you should obtain refund from the retailer and you could additionally directly contact journey solutions to raise the matter - I will provide the correct personal contact details via DM if you wish. The retailer should then also bring this up with journey solutions. Thanks.
     
  29. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    Thank you for your offer - I'm sorry I didn't pick up on your previous post in a timely fashion! I'll get something drafted up and get in contact. Cheers!
     
  30. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Established Member

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    Maybe - but for example I don't have a smart phone. I plan my jny ahead, note down what to do / where to go etc and hope that I won't have to deal with the endless minor annoyances of the UK public transport systems over complex aspects that means that even some of the people who work for it have no idea of the products they should honour.

    If I did this sort of thing more frequently I guess I'd get a smart phone (or as I see it, spend more of my own money to help rectify situations created by orgs I pay to use a service for that are unable to provide that service even to the standards they say they will provide!)

    I'd like to hope that on receipt of such a complaint from the OP the org concerned would not only refund them but offer a suitable ex gratia compensatory payment.

    With plus bus I've taken to printing a list of operators that accept it when i go to a place I've not been to before.

    I once recall a bus driver challenging the validity of a Plus Bus ticket until I pointed out a sticker on the driver's door saying 'Plus Bus accepted' - A sign said driver presumably passed every time he got in his driving seat!

    Come to think of it I also recall a bus driver at Wedgwood being uncertain about accepting a Train ticket from Wedgwood Station at the time when the bus company were specifically providing the permanent 'rail replacement service'!
     
  31. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    Apologies to all and especially to @alistairlees following their kind offer of help that I didn't come back sooner with an update. Although they took a rather long time about it, the bus company have graciously provided a refund for the ticket without my need to return the ticket to the original retailer.

    In addition, they clarified their policy for me:

    It seems that they actually do have absolutely the right policy in place for tickets which they think might be 'uncommon'. I agree it could be very uncommon as there aren't terribly many destinations in the vicinity of the stop I was going to, and the Hotel at the back of the Health Club is probably an exception to the norm, and most customers there almost certainly go by car.

    A lesson for me here to be less cynical and have more faith in large transport companies to make things right.
     

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