Season ticket refund

Haywain

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Not relevant. An annual season ticket is not “regular services in return for a regular payment as part of an ongoing contract”. Season tickets have a single upfront payment.
And a very clearly defined end date to the contract.
 
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island

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Entirely relevant - a regular service (or it is if they have enough drivers!) is provided every day, twice a day, to commute back and forth to work.

The train company has not provide ‘the service’ when you step on the train on day 1. They are providing a service all the way through to day 365.
A regular service yes, a regular payment no.
Even if your view prevailed, then the CMA have covered that as well -

Limited exceptions to full refunds
Sometimes, a consumer will already have received some of the services they have paid for in advance. In those cases, the CMA considers that the consumer would normally be entitled to at least a refund for the services that are not provided. However, where they have already received something of value, consumers should generally be expected to pay for it and they will not usually be entitled to get all their money back.

In some cases, where Government public health measures prevent a business from providing a service or the consumer from receiving it, the business may be able to deduct a contribution to the costs it has already incurred in relation to the specific contract in question (where it cannot recover them elsewhere). In the CMA’s view, these cases are likely to be relatively rare, however, and the costs that may be deducted from refunds will usually be limited.


So again, if someone is towards the end of their season ticket but cannot use it because of the ‘lockdown’ legislation, then they should entitled to a refund for that part (and again it is irrelevant that the railway company argument that the contract says the last few months are free, if that is not fair to the consumer).
I agree that the consumer should be expected to pay for the services received. The price of those services, namely shorter than annual season tickets) is published and clearly available to consumers in advance. If a consumer chooses not to use the service any more (or is prevented from doing so by operation of law), the amount they pay could be revised to the price of the services actually used. This is the published price for odd period season tickets, the remainder being refundable. The train companies have, very fairly, offered to backdate refunds to the start of the “lockdown” and, also fairly, to process refunds without the consumer adhering to the terms of the contract, which they agreed to, around submitting paper tickets when obtaining a refund. Many have, fairly, waived their administrative fees for dealing with the refunds. And this is without even considering the point miami raised which is that the train operating companies are still ready, willing, and able to provide the purchased services.

Looking at what the CMA website, then, it says consumers “should receive at least a refund for the services that are not provided” and “they will not usually be entitled to get all their money back”. It is silent as to how that refund might be calculated. It is not at all unusual across sectors for economies of scale to mean unit costs will decrease with larger purchases, and it is quite a jump to suggest that the CMA’s opinion infers that pro-rata refunds are now fair game.

On the question of the terms of the contract between TOC and passenger being fair, the Supreme Court has ruled (OFT vs Abbey & ors [2009] UKSC 6), that those parts of a contract establishing the price of a service are not subject to assessment for fairness, so I am afraid your suggestion does not appear to me to hold water. But neither you, I, nor the CMA are the courts – the CMA even says on the website linked that it is just its opinion – and there is always the possibility the courts may rule differently.

Finally, the question of claiming against financial institutions under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 was also raised. I am afraid this is also a very long shot. Subsection (1) limits claims to those for misrepresentations and breaches of contract. No misrepresentation or breach of contract has occurred. The main likelihood of a payout from a financial institution of the difference between the refund received for a cancelled season ticket and the refund one feels one “should” get because of a pro-rata calculation is an ex-gratia payment by the financial institution, which will no doubt have one eye on the £550 bill it will receive from the Financial Ombudsman should the consumer refer a refusal there.
 

sefton

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My reading of that would be a football season ticket holder would get say 25 games over the year for £1000, or £40 a game. If the holder had the opportunity to see 15 of the games, but the club haven't provided the ability for the holder to see the remaining 10, it would be fair to get a £400 refund.

However in the case of the railway, most services are still running. There may be issues with the new timetable (say there's normally a 7am train that you catch, but now the first train is at 10am) which could be considered on a case by case basis, but for most lines I believe the trains are still running. I wouldn't think minor changes to timetables and frequencies (say dropping to 2tph from 4tph) would be enough to void the contract.

The government hasn't prevented the railway from providing the service, nor has the railway (on the whole) stopped providing the service.

In some cases the government has stopped you from using the service, but then you wouldn't get better-than-normal conditions from the railway if you were laid off from work, or if you were called for jury service, or you were sent to prison.
It is irrelevant that the train services are still running, what is relevant is whether the season ticket holder can access them. To quote again from the CMA -

In particular, for most consumer contracts the CMA would expect a consumer to be offered a full refund where:
  • a consumer cancels, or is prevented from receiving any services, because Government public health measures mean they are not allowed to use the services.

The season ticket holder cannot use their season ticket because it would be illegal for them to do so as you are only allowed to travel for specific purposes.
 

island

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It is irrelevant that the train services are still running, what is relevant is whether the season ticket holder can access them. To quote again from the CMA -

In particular, for most consumer contracts the CMA would expect a consumer to be offered a full refund where:
  • a consumer cancels, or is prevented from receiving any services, because Government public health measures mean they are not allowed to use the services.

The season ticket holder cannot use their season ticket because it would be illegal for them to do so as you are only allowed to travel for specific purposes.
If you want to go down wormholes, I would point out that they could still use the season ticket to travel to a supermarket, hospital, relative needing care, etc., which would be perfectly legal.
 

sefton

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A regular service yes, a regular payment no.

I agree that the consumer should be expected to pay for the services received. The price of those services, namely shorter than annual season tickets) is published and clearly available to consumers in advance. If a consumer chooses not to use the service any more (or is prevented from doing so by operation of law), the amount they pay could be revised to the price of the services actually used. This is the published price for odd period season tickets, the remainder being refundable. The train companies have, very fairly, offered to backdate refunds to the start of the “lockdown” and, also fairly, to process refunds without the consumer adhering to the terms of the contract, which they agreed to, around submitting paper tickets when obtaining a refund. Many have, fairly, waived their administrative fees for dealing with the refunds. And this is without even considering the point miami raised which is that the train operating companies are still ready, willing, and able to provide the purchased services.

Looking at what the CMA website, then, it says consumers “should receive at least a refund for the services that are not provided” and “they will not usually be entitled to get all their money back”. It is silent as to how that refund might be calculated. It is not at all unusual across sectors for economies of scale to mean unit costs will decrease with larger purchases, and it is quite a jump to suggest that the CMA’s opinion infers that pro-rata refunds are now fair game.
I don’t think it is a leap at all. In fact I think it a far greater leap to suggest that the rail companies have incurred all their cost to delivery in the first 9 months of the year and there are no costs in the last 3 months so the journeys are free and there is no refund.


On the question of the terms of the contract between TOC and passenger being fair, the Supreme Court has ruled (OFT vs Abbey & ors [2009] UKSC 6), that those parts of a contract establishing the price of a service are not subject to assessment for fairness, so I am afraid your suggestion does not appear to me to hold water. But neither you, I, nor the CMA are the courts – the CMA even says on the website linked that it is just its opinion – and there is always the possibility the courts may rule differently.
That case is not relevant here as the issue is not the assessment of fairness of the contract price but the fairness of the calculation of the amount to be refunded for services the consumer cannot use.

Finally, the question of claiming against financial institutions under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 was also raised. I am afraid this is also a very long shot. Subsection (1) limits claims to those for misrepresentations and breaches of contract. No misrepresentation or breach of contract has occurred. The main likelihood of a payout from a financial institution of the difference between the refund received for a cancelled season ticket and the refund one feels one “should” get because of a pro-rata calculation is an ex-gratia payment by the financial institution, which will no doubt have one eye on the £550 bill it will receive from the Financial Ombudsman should the consumer refer a refusal there.

Section 75 is very much in play because if the rail company refuses to refund a fair proportion, then there has been a breach of contract (as before it doesn’t matter what the contract says if the terms are not fair) so it is jointly and severally liable.
 

sefton

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If you want to go down wormholes, I would point out that they could still use the season ticket to travel to a supermarket, hospital, relative needing care, etc., which would be perfectly legal.
So you want to argue to the police that instead of going to the supermarket a mile away, instead you are driving to the railway station and then getting a train 50 miles to London so you can buy your groceries there?

I think you would struggle with that one.

And anyway, that is the exact reason why the CMA have come out with this as many holiday cottages and wedding venues are saying “we are open, your problem you can’t get here” and the CMA are saying, “no it isn’t, give them a refund”.
 

CyrusWuff

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Just as a heads up. RDG issued a revised briefing on Saturday. From Tuesday 12th May, season ticket refunds other than those to which Condition 40.4 of the NRCoT applies (i.e. anything other than refunds due to illness where evidence of same is provided) will only be backdated to a maximum of 56 days from the date of submission.

As such, one submitted on 12th May will be backdated to no later than 18th March, one submitted on the 13th to 19th March, etc.
 

sefton

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Just as a heads up. RDG issued a revised briefing on Saturday. From Tuesday 12th May, season ticket refunds other than those to which Condition 40.4 of the NRCoT applies (i.e. anything other than refunds due to illness where evidence of same is provided) will only be backdated to a maximum of 56 days from the date of submission.

As such, one submitted on 12th May will be backdated to no later than 18th March, one submitted on the 13th to 19th March, etc.
Perhaps OK until they get to the 18th May and then they will will bump up against the CMA as it was illegal for most people to use their season tickets after the 23 March.
 

35B

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Perhaps OK until they get to the 18th May and then they will will bump up against the CMA as it was illegal for most people to use their season tickets after the 23 March.
For which we will have had 8 weeks in which to seek a refund. I'm not entirely a fan of the rules on season refunds, or the way that the price is expressed, but to suggest that the rules should be so open ended as to allow a season ticket holder the unqualified right to a backdated refund at any time beggars belief. I handed my season in on the 18th March, and was in a very expensive queue of people doing likewise. Even if you think that people should have had time to consider their position, 2 months feels like ample time in which to order one's affairs.
 

sefton

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For which we will have had 8 weeks in which to seek a refund. I'm not entirely a fan of the rules on season refunds, or the way that the price is expressed, but to suggest that the rules should be so open ended as to allow a season ticket holder the unqualified right to a backdated refund at any time beggars belief. I handed my season in on the 18th March, and was in a very expensive queue of people doing likewise. Even if you think that people should have had time to consider their position, 2 months feels like ample time in which to order one's affairs.
But for that whole time the rail companies have been telling people they will get an unfair refund or no refund, so they are hardly blameless.

It is only now the goverment (in the form of the CMA) is coming out and saying that conditions for refunds across all consumer contracts need to be considered and fair refunds be given where it would have been illegal for people to use the services they had paid for.
 

35B

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But for that whole time the rail companies have been telling people they will get an unfair refund or no refund, so they are hardly blameless.

It is only now the goverment (in the form of the CMA) is coming out and saying that conditions for refunds across all consumer contracts need to be considered and fair refunds be given where it would have been illegal for people to use the services they had paid for.
The refund calculation was consistent with what I was told when I bought the ticket. and with previous times I've needed to consider a refund. I think the dice are unfairly loaded in this case, but they are entirely consistent with how the industry has set up seasons for many years. As the "dead" period of an annual season is 6 weeks, I'd personally regard the failure to submit a refund request for 8 weeks at the end of a period as the fault of the ticket holder, who would still have rights to go into dispute with the retailer if they felt the refund wrongly/unfairly calculated. In a matter like this, I'd expect the customer to bear a duty to act reasonably, and for that to include submitting the refund request in a timely way.
 

sefton

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The refund calculation was consistent with what I was told when I bought the ticket. and with previous times I've needed to consider a refund. I think the dice are unfairly loaded in this case, but they are entirely consistent with how the industry has set up seasons for many years. As the "dead" period of an annual season is 6 weeks, I'd personally regard the failure to submit a refund request for 8 weeks at the end of a period as the fault of the ticket holder, who would still have rights to go into dispute with the retailer if they felt the refund wrongly/unfairly calculated. In a matter like this, I'd expect the customer to bear a duty to act reasonably, and for that to include submitting the refund request in a timely way.
The refund conditions were possibly fair up until the pandemic, but it would now appear the goverment disagrees.

And if someone in or approaching the dead period was told they would receive little or nothing, then why would you go to the effort of trying for a refund you knew you would be refused.

It is only now the government is saying that the refunds companies are giving must be looked at again, so it is not at all unreasonable if the general public may not be aware and may take a while to find out.

So really the clock should start running when the rail companies change their tune and agree that proper refunds are given and publicise the change in policy.
 

Haywain

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The refund calculation was consistent with what I was told when I bought the ticket. and with previous times I've needed to consider a refund. I think the dice are unfairly loaded in this case, but they are entirely consistent with how the industry has set up seasons for many years. As the "dead" period of an annual season is 6 weeks, I'd personally regard the failure to submit a refund request for 8 weeks at the end of a period as the fault of the ticket holder, who would still have rights to go into dispute with the retailer if they felt the refund wrongly/unfairly calculated. In a matter like this, I'd expect the customer to bear a duty to act reasonably, and for that to include submitting the refund request in a timely way.
Indeed. I think if you want to claim that the refund is calculated unfairly you would be on stronger ground if you had actually applied for said refund.
 

sefton

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Indeed. I think if you want to claim that the refund is calculated unfairly you would be on stronger ground if you had actually applied for said refund.
But until the goverment (in the form of the CMA) came out and said “that isn’t fair” then they would have been told by everyone (and that still seems to be the view of many) ‘tough those are the rules, go away’, so why would they bother putting in for a refund when they would have got nothing.
 

Haywain

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But until the goverment (in the form of the CMA) came out and said “that isn’t fair” then they would have been told by everyone (and that still seems to be the view of many) ‘tough those are the rules, go away’, so why would they bother putting in for a refund when they would have got nothing.
It's you, not the government, that has said it's unfair by how you have chosen to interpret the CMA statement.
 

717001

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Just as a heads up. RDG issued a revised briefing on Saturday. From Tuesday 12th May, season ticket refunds other than those to which Condition 40.4 of the NRCoT applies (i.e. anything other than refunds due to illness where evidence of same is provided) will only be backdated to a maximum of 56 days from the date of submission.

As such, one submitted on 12th May will be backdated to no later than 18th March, one submitted on the 13th to 19th March, etc.
This is now confirmed on https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/coronavirus_refunds.aspx
  • Season Tickets can be refunded at any time and train companies calculate how much is refunded by how much value is left on your ticket. They do this by deducting the value of any other tickets you could have travelled with in the same time until you stopped using your Season Ticket. This refund can be backdated up to 56 days from when it is submitted, to the last date it was used (or to 17 March 2020, whichever is later) if you were unable to travel due to the government’s guidance about only travelling if essential during the pandemic.
 

infobleep

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Just as a heads up. RDG issued a revised briefing on Saturday. From Tuesday 12th May, season ticket refunds other than those to which Condition 40.4 of the NRCoT applies (i.e. anything other than refunds due to illness where evidence of same is provided) will only be backdated to a maximum of 56 days from the date of submission.

As such, one submitted on 12th May will be backdated to no later than 18th March, one submitted on the 13th to 19th March, etc.
I haven't applied yet as I wasn't aware of this. Will I now be penalised?

South Western Railway state:
Our refund acceptance period has been extended from 28 to 56 days after the expiry of the ticket/non-use of season tickets. From 11 May our refund backdating period will be a rolling 56 days. Special conditions exist for Advance tickets - you'll find more details below.

I hadn't been aware there was a 28 day limit previously. I didn't think there was any hurry to apply as the rail companies must be rtahwe busy deal with refunds.

I've now applied and I added that the Web Site wasn't working previously and I held off as they were busy the government said it would be backdated.

It must be noted I'm not aware of having received any e-mail from South Western Railway regarding refunds or letter in the post.

The original government press briefing stated:
All season ticket holders can claim a refund for time unused on their tickets. Ticket holders should contact their retailer for details.

I'm fairly certain the South Western Railway Web Site didn't state the refunds had to be made within 28 days prior to them announcing the refund period had been extended to 56 days.

Anyway I will see what happens.
 
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CyrusWuff

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28 days is the normal time limit for claiming a refund for an unused ticket and is enshrined in Condition 29.1 of the National Rail Conditions of Travel. Due to the current situation, that's been extended to 56 days until further notice.

What's changing as of Tuesday is that instead of backdating a season ticket refund to 17th March at the earliest, it'll become a rolling 56 day period. So a request submitted on Tuesday could only be backdated to 18th March, one on Wednesday to 19th March, and so on.
 

infobleep

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28 days is the normal time limit for claiming a refund for an unused ticket and is enshrined in Condition 29.1 of the National Rail Conditions of Travel. Due to the current situation, that's been extended to 56 days until further notice.

What's changing as of Tuesday is that instead of backdating a season ticket refund to 17th March at the earliest, it'll become a rolling 56 day period. So a request submitted on Tuesday could only be backdated to 18th March, one on Wednesday to 19th March, and so on.
I thought 56 days had already past. I must be wishing my life away. I was within the time limit.

I wonder if some will be caught out unaware of the change though. It says they have extended the days from 28 to 56. However if they have done that then surely they should have been refusing applications as 28 days had already passed before they switched to 56 days.

I know they had agreed to back date to 17 March but that was all. Maybe they could explain that a deadline has been added when previous it hadn't existed since the government announcement. I'm thinking out loud here.

If was only because I came on here that I suddenly became aware
 

SWT_USER

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I thought 56 days had already past. I must be wishing my life away. I was within the time limit.

I wonder if some will be caught out unaware of the change though. It says they have extended the days from 28 to 56. However if they have done that then surely they should have been refusing applications as 28 days had already passed before they switched to 56 days.

I know they had agreed to back date to 17 March but that was all. Maybe they could explain that a deadline has been added when previous it hadn't existed since the government announcement. I'm thinking out loud here.

If was only because I came on here that I suddenly became aware
I'm still waiting for my refund to be processed - received the automated email acknowledgement on 6th April having submitted the claim two days previous.

My worry now is that I'm going to have to buy a new ticket before SWR process my refund which will leave me effectively paying twice until they get around to refunding it.

May be something to consider if you know you will be going back to work soon.
 

Woodhjuk

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I'm still waiting for my refund to be processed - received the automated email acknowledgement on 6th April having submitted the claim two days previous.

My worry now is that I'm going to have to buy a new ticket before SWR process my refund which will leave me effectively paying twice until they get around to refunding it.

May be something to consider if you know you will be going back to work soon.
I came back to this to see what we calculated and what I will get. I have just had a call with my refund and it was a little more than i thought it would be (£70 or so) and also may be of interest to you that I submitted my claim on the 17th April and have had the call today to say refund will be with me in next 5-10 working days. So if you submitted your claim on or around the 17th April....you should get a call soon!

I had too pondered the problem of having to pay off my credit card twice for an unrefunded ticket and a new one. But I think i wont be commuting for some time yet!
 

SWT_USER

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I came back to this to see what we calculated and what I will get. I have just had a call with my refund and it was a little more than i thought it would be (£70 or so) and also may be of interest to you that I submitted my claim on the 17th April and have had the call today to say refund will be with me in next 5-10 working days. So if you submitted your claim on or around the 17th April....you should get a call soon!

I had too pondered the problem of having to pay off my credit card twice for an unrefunded ticket and a new one. But I think i wont be commuting for some time yet!
Thanks - was this a paper ticket purchased from an SWR ticket office? Slightly worrying if so as I submitted my claim 11 days before yours and I haven't been contacted - which means either SWR aren't being truthful when they say they are processing refunds in order or they've missed my claim. <(
 

VauxhallandI

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Thanks - was this a paper ticket purchased from an SWR ticket office? Slightly worrying if so as I submitted my claim 11 days before yours and I haven't been contacted - which means either SWR aren't being truthful when they say they are processing refunds in order or they've missed my claim. <(
I do wonder how they conduct their refunds. Sounds very manual by these timescales involved.
 

gazr

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Refund calculation help. Purchase the Lapworth - Hatton season ticket on GWR.com for 164.00 in December, to start Dec 31st, 2019. Submitted refund request on 5/5/2020 with backdating to March 17th. Received email today which states I'll be getting 113.60 back. Can't figure how they got to that amount; am I getting short-changed?
 

CyrusWuff

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That's (almost) the correct calculation for 2 months 17 days of use. The base rate is £4.10 (£164 / 40) and the multiplier is 9.86 (2 months at 3.84 plus 3 lots of 5 days at 0.64 plus 2 days at 0.13), giving a charge of £40.50 (though they seem to have rounded down to £40.40). This gives a gross refund amount of £123.60, less £10.00 admin fee, giving a net refund of £113.60.
 

gazr

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That's (almost) the correct calculation for 2 months 17 days of use. The base rate is £4.10 (£164 / 40) and the multiplier is 9.86 (2 months at 3.84 plus 3 lots of 5 days at 0.64 plus 2 days at 0.13), giving a charge of £40.50 (though they seem to have rounded down to £40.40). This gives a gross refund amount of £123.60, less £10.00 admin fee, giving a net refund of £113.60.
Thanks for the reply :) It's the admin fee I forgot about...thought that was free due to the whole virus thing? Oh well...it's not getting used and may as well get something back.
 

infobleep

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I'm still waiting for my refund to be processed - received the automated email acknowledgement on 6th April having submitted the claim two days previous.

My worry now is that I'm going to have to buy a new ticket before SWR process my refund which will leave me effectively paying twice until they get around to refunding it.

May be something to consider if you know you will be going back to work soon.
I'm working from home fortunately. There are certain things myself and my colleagues can't do due to this but the majority of things can be done from home.

When people do start to slowly return to the office, in greater numbers than they are now, I won't be at the front of the queue, even if I wanted to be, as I'm in the moderate risk group.

Finally Boris gave us some guidance, I wasn't aware of my government guidance previously, and that was to continue to be careful. Thus I imagine that will result in me just working from home for longer than others in the low risk will.

Which thus means I'll be surprised if I'm back in an office for some months yet. My season ticket was due to expire in October. I might even get a refund before I can make any substantial journeys.
 

CyrusWuff

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Thanks for the reply :) It's the admin fee I forgot about...thought that was free due to the whole virus thing? Oh well...it's not getting used and may as well get something back.
Unfortunately the admin fee is only being waived for non-season tickets. Not sure of the logic, but I'd equally hazard a guess that it doesn't cover the costs involved for some TOCs when it comes to having to change their entire system for handling refunds, given the volume and legwork involved compared to refunds processed through Ticket Offices.
 

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