Problems with trainline: "open return" fares only being valid for one day

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Bluejays

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Just wondered if anyone has had issues with this. Seems to be a glitch in the trainline app that is marking valid tickets as expired and stopping people being able to access them.


Apologies if I haven't explained this very well.

Rewritten this, as it was hard to understand.

Girlfriend had an issue last week with trainline split. Searched for open return, app gave split ticket option that she purchased. Went to use return portion and couldn't access it as it said expired. We did a 'test purchase' and realised that even though the search is for open tickets, the split option put up day returns.

Was checking tickets today from Paddington to Cardiff. Passenger said to me that their ticket should be valid as they'd bought an open return. But it was greyed out and inaccessible on app, and said 'expired ' and also said it was a day return. Because the passenger was quite obviously shocked at it being invalid, and because of what had happened to my girlfriend last week. I asked to see the confirmation email, to see if we could work out what had gone wrong. Trainline had split the cardiff to London return at Newport. Giving an open return from Newport to pad and a day return from cardiff to Newport. So the open return from Newport to pad would have still been valid. I'm guessing that because the return portion of the day return has expired, there is a glitch in the app that is defaulting the whole ticket to be expired.

Would hate to know how many people have been caught out by this
 
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robbeech

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I’d think this is more likely an oversight due to lack of knowledge than a specific bug. Trainline are well known for having a user interface that works very very well on anything simple but can often fall down and leave passengers in a mess with anything else. Their introduction of split ticketing has been far from smooth and it has cost a few passengers much more than they’ve saved. They’re generally unwilling to entertain the idea of refunding either unless pushed at a high level.

That said, if someone has entered return same day when searching for a ticket and has then not done so (and perhaps was planning on buying a single ticket Newport to Cardiff or just chancing it) then whilst it’s poor form, and maybe unlawful for Trainline to add their own additional restrictions to what should be regulated tickets, I think the passenger would need to take some responsibility. It’s not to say that the app wouldn’t have behaved the same way had they specified an overnight stay of course. But without purchasing a ticket there’s little way of knowing.

one thing that passengers ARE finding annoying is that if they refund their tickets they’re being charged 2 admin fees for 2 tickets even when they’ve not really wanted to split in the first place, and even when they haven’t gained financially by doing so (yes they offer £0.00 saving splits I’ll see if I can find an example).
 

Bluejays

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I’d think this is more likely an oversight due to lack of knowledge than a specific bug. Trainline are well known for having a user interface that works very very well on anything simple but can often fall down and leave passengers in a mess with anything else. Their introduction of split ticketing has been far from smooth and it has cost a few passengers much more than they’ve saved. They’re generally unwilling to entertain the idea of refunding either unless pushed at a high level.

That said, if someone has entered return same day when searching for a ticket and has then not done so (and perhaps was planning on buying a single ticket Newport to Cardiff or just chancing it) then whilst it’s poor form, and maybe unlawful for Trainline to add their own additional restrictions to what should be regulated tickets, I think the passenger would need to take some responsibility. It’s not to say that the app wouldn’t have behaved the same way had they specified an overnight stay of course. But without purchasing a ticket there’s little way of knowing.

one thing that passengers ARE finding annoying is that if they refund their tickets they’re being charged 2 admin fees for 2 tickets even when they’ve not really wanted to split in the first place, and even when they haven’t gained financially by doing so (yes they offer £0.00 saving splits I’ll see if I can find an example).
The point is that people are searching for open returns. The major part of the return is an open return (in todays case pad to newport), but the ticket is showing as expired.

The other thing to add, is that this is happening after people are specifying overnight stays. They are specifying to return on different days to their departure
 

robbeech

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The point is that people are searching for open returns. The major part of the return is an open return (in todays case pad to newport), but the ticket is showing as expired.

The other thing to add, is that this is happening after people are specifying overnight stays. They are specifying to return on different days to their departure
Unsurprising i'm afraid. These sorts of issues have been present on Trainline for several years now but there is simply no financial incentive to fix it. By leaving it be they'll make more money when passengers buy a new ticket that they should not have to buy, and they wont have to pay anyone to fix the problem. Are these specifically M Tickets that you are dealing wtih.
 

Bluejays

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Unsurprising i'm afraid. These sorts of issues have been present on Trainline for several years now but there is simply no financial incentive to fix it. By leaving it be they'll make more money when passengers buy a new ticket that they should not have to buy, and they wont have to pay anyone to fix the problem. Are these specifically M Tickets that you are dealing wtih.
Very true, it worked in their favour to keep playing fast and loose as it ends up with them getting more business. Yes, on both occasions they were m tickets
 

father_jack

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What is described is a continual problem with Trainline.

"Open return" are frequently sold as a day return where no period return even exists so conflict for staff.

Or a "return" which isn't a return, it's been sold as two singles with one (or both) potentially advance and with that advance ticket a pound or 50p less that the anytime, and the customer hasn't noticed the fare increase or the "advance" wording- more conflict for staff.

Mind you I refunded a ticket lately where the punter was on a train 6 minutes earlier than they should- the anytime was 50p more than the advance and a desperado ticket examiner sold a new anytime single even though it was an off peak train !!! Strewth, some people deserve a bump on the snoz.
 

yorkie

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The problem is that there is no universally accepted meaning of the term "Open return" any more.

It used to refer to a specific product, valid on any train (without restriction) for a month. These fares were actually called Open Returns until 2008.

Colloquially the term appears to be typically now used to refer to a fare which can be used to return within a month, but can be subject to peak restrictions, such as an Off Peak Return.

But when Trainline came along, they used the term to mean any fare that was not fixed on the Return portion; even a Super Off Peak Day Return would count.

For about 9 years or so they actually used this term while the specific product if the same same name existed but in 2008 the Open fares were renamed Anytime to reduce confusion.

But the confusion remains to this day; most people think this terminology means they can return within a month.

If you go to a ticket office and ask for an "open" return from Sheffield to Derby, there is no way a competent ticket office would issue an Off Peak Day Return without further question. But Trainline would

That's the issue here.

I'm surprised more people don't get caught out to be honest!
 

AlterEgo

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The problem is that there is no universally accepted meaning of the term "Open return" any more.

It used to refer to a specific product, valid on any train (without restriction) for a month. These fares were actually called Open Returns until 2008.

Colloquially the term appears to be typically now used to refer to a fare which can be used to return within a month, but can be subject to peak restrictions, such as an Off Peak Return.

But when Trainline came along, they used the term to mean any fare that was not fixed on the Return portion; even a Super Off Peak Day Return would count.
Ho ho, guess what I found on the Trainline site?


Open Return train tickets​

An Open Return train ticket is a flexible ticket that doesn't make you choose a specific time or date to return. This ticket is valid for one calendar month from the date of the outward journey.

Clear mis-selling by Trainline.

Have at them.
 

yorkie

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Interesting.

So the description says it's valid for or a month but the actual meaning of the option they provide is very different.

Any customer who is mis-sold a fare due to this confusion would be entitled to reimbursement of any additional expenses incurred, in my opinion.

See also:

It has cropped up before and has been an issue ever since Trainline launched.
 
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AlterEgo

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Interesting.

So the description says it's valid for or a month but the actual meaning of the option they provide is very different.

Any customer who is mis-sold a fare due to this confusion would be entitled to reimbursement of any additional expenses incurred, in my opinion.

See also:

https://www.railforums.co.uk/thread...able-on-all-booking-sites.185205/post-4203269 (2019)
https://www.railforums.co.uk/thread...used-ordered-to-pay-again.173476/post-3728600 (2018)
https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/open-return-question.43075/post-616349 (2011)
It's clear as day; Trainline define the open return as being valid for a month (which is also the meaning you and I would use, as would most ordinary punters). Under no circumstances, then, should they offer you day tickets if you specify an open return.

I can't think of a clearer case of consumer mis-selling.
 

Wolfie

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Ho ho, guess what I found on the Trainline site?




Clear mis-selling by Trainline.

Have at them.
They would get a letter giving them a very clear deadline to refund all additional costs involved. If they failed to act the next correspondence would be via MCOL.
 

robbeech

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It's clear as day; Trainline define the open return as being valid for a month (which is also the meaning you and I would use, as would most ordinary punters). Under no circumstances, then, should they offer you day tickets if you specify an open return.

I can't think of a clearer case of consumer mis-selling.
I agree, 100% although we know for a fact they'd tell you to sod off and that it'd cost a medium sized family hatchback to take them to court and your chances of wining would be slim.


They would get a letter giving them a very clear deadline to refund all additional costs involved. If they failed to act the next correspondence would be via MCOL.

In the real world it would be the passenger that ended up with the criminal record for not having a valid ticket, and the retailer that carried on making the profit. I await seeing anyone ever try to do anything about their appalling ways but i do not wait with my breath held.
 

Mcr Warrior

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Wonder whether the Consumers' Association would be interested, if the experience of various posters on this thread is typical / widespread.
 

RPI

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I've seen this a lot when checking tickets and a lot of time there isn't a workaround either and I've had to sell a new ticket for the relevant leg and advise that the customer goes to trainline to complain, it leaves us staff in a bit of a situation!
 

Wolfie

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I agree, 100% although we know for a fact they'd tell you to sod off and that it'd cost a medium sized family hatchback to take them to court and your chances of wining would be slim.




In the real world it would be the passenger that ended up with the criminal record for not having a valid ticket, and the retailer that carried on making the profit. I await seeing anyone ever try to do anything about their appalling ways but i do not wait with my breath held.
MCOL fees start at £25 which Trainline would have to repay if they lost. In the small claims channel they would be liable for their own legal costs too - that all builds up. Finally there is no way on God's earth the Trainline would want such an issue to get anywhere near a Court which issued precedent-setting decisions. As such it is a virtual certainty that they'd settle at County Court level. Not doing so would invite a body like the Consumers Association to get involved and things would then get very ugly very fast for Trainline...
 

bunnahabhain

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If you go to a ticket office and ask for an "open" return from Sheffield to Derby, there is no way a competent ticket office would issue an Off Peak Day Return without further question. But Trainline would

That's the issue here.

I'm surprised more people don't get caught out to be honest!
They are an awful awful retailer and cause around 99% of the ticket irregularities I see. Even a half competent ticket office would be able to ask "Are you returning today or another day" and issue the appropriate fare. The biggest issue now with their split ticketing is its made it far harder to resolve what would have been fairly normal irregularities, the most recent I saw was a lady who had what Trainline were describing as an "Open Return" but was infact an off peak day return and two advance singles routed via a split at Crewe, but because she thought she had a return to Nottingham valid on any train for a calendar month she boarded the direct service. The passenger then contacted Trainlines customer service who suggested she just buy an AP ticket from Warrington to Nottingham as an AP ticket on the day was no longer available for the beginning of the journey.

The biggest issue for me and I suspect their customers is that they do not provide enough information of what tickets they are issuing and then their customer service is appalling.
 

father_jack

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The biggest issue for me and I suspect their customers is that they do not provide enough information of what tickets they are issuing and then their customer service is appalling.
But they spend most on adverts so the great unwashed think they are fantastic.
 

zero

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We all know a real open return has a month validity, but I have heard the following exchange on board trains, and in ticket office queues several times:

"Can I have an open return to ___ please"

"Are you coming back today"

"Yes"

"So you want a day return"

"Oh is that not the same thing"
 

Haywain

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We all know a real open return has a month validity, but I have heard the following exchange on board trains, and in ticket office queues several times:

"Can I have an open return to ___ please"

"Are you coming back today"

"Yes"

"So you want a day return"

"Oh is that not the same thing"
Yes, that’s very common but online selling needs to be clearer as to what is being offered.
 

PeterC

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I’d think this is more likely an oversight due to lack of knowledge than a specific bug.
Having spent over 30 yhears in IT I would say that there is no such thing as an "oversight" just sloppy analysis.
 

Haywain

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But the description of the product is not an IT issue. From an IT perspective it is text content and nothing more. It needs subject matter experts involved in testing to deal with poor content.
 

JB_B

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But the description of the product is not an IT issue. From an IT perspective it is text content and nothing more. It needs subject matter experts involved in testing to deal with poor content.

If your developers and your domain experts are separate groups of people then you're almost certainly guaranteeing a sub-optimal outcome.
 

35B

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But the description of the product is not an IT issue. From an IT perspective it is text content and nothing more. It needs subject matter experts involved in testing to deal with poor content.
But it's not just text content - the names are an expression of business rules. To say it's only text content is to miss the far deeper dimensions of what these names mean. I support the view of those suggesting poor analysis
 
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