Should Websites be impartial?

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Simon11

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I understand that ticket stations should offer impartial advice, so the customers gets unbiased advice based on what they ask for.

Does this apply to websites?

On the Virgin Trains website, making a booking, I've found a flow (I'm sure there are more) where it only offers Virgin Trains services and completely hides other TOC's trains.

Looking at the small print
"Results are based on the fastest available trains. Click here to check if slower routes with cheaper tickets are available."

Therefore if Virgin Trains only had the fastest available trains, I wouldn't have an issue, however there are other few services which offer superior journey times compared to VT. Should VT be displaying these other services if they are more competitive than their own trains?
 
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rail-britain

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Mine isn't impartial either
I receive commission based on sales, but I will offer at least two alternatives to any enquiry (even if I do not earn any commission from it)

As for TOC websites, they tend to heavily promote their own fares where possible
As above, this is quite obvious on Virgin Trains and Cross Country when you search Edinburgh - Birmingham

You then have the extremes of the other third party providers (such as thetrainline, redspottedhanky, etc) they too will promote specific services providers over others (and even exclude some where they should be included)
 

johnnycache

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Under the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement only impartial sites are entitled to commission payments. So sites can be partial but if they are they should not be claiming commission.
 

richw

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I feel if it is a TOC website branded as that then no it shouldnt have to be impartial, as it is trying to market that company. However sites independent of a TOC must be 100% impartial.
you wouldnt expect Asda to be impartial and sell a tesco product,
If i go to FGW website I'd expect it to recommend their product, whereas if i went to an independent site I'd expect it to offer the best available product.

Out of interest does SWT suggest their own service or that of FGW when travelling from say Exeter to London?
 

rail-britain

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In that case the trainline.com should have a warning before any transaction is complete that it is very likely this transaction will be cheaper on any train company website.
However, you don't see such advice when visiting any other such travel recomendation website

As an example
A comparison of airlines, but the direct fare (airlines own website) is cheaper
 

wibble

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Out of interest does SWT suggest their own service or that of FGW when travelling from say Exeter to London?

Depends on the destination you type in:
- 'London' gives you Paddington and Waterloo
- 'London Paddington' gives you Paddington only
- 'London Waterloo' gives you Waterloo only.
 

radamfi

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No, as they don't have to. TOC websites are not obliged to be impartial.

Is the OP asking whether they HAVE to be impartial or whether they SHOULD be impartial?

If the question is SHOULD they be impartial, then it depends on whose interests is more important - the passenger or the TOC? If a TOC website advertises that you can buy any ticket for any train company on its website, like the Southern and Cross Country adverts on TV, then they should offer the same tickets at the same prices.
 

richw

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If the question is SHOULD they be impartial, then it depends on whose interests is more important - the passenger or the TOC? If a TOC website advertises that you can buy any ticket for any train company on its website, like the Southern and Cross Country adverts on TV, then they should offer the same tickets at the same prices.

Indeed I agree wit the latter part, but since when does any company put their customers before their business,
You wouldnt expect a supermarket to tell you to buy another supermarkets own brand product because its cheaper, or better value for money, or a better quality product, this is no different in my opinion
 

michael769

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Looking at the small print
"Results are based on the fastest available trains. Click here to check if slower routes with cheaper tickets are available."

This statement is misleading and probably breaches the Trade Descriptions Act, the ASA is also likely to take issue with it.

They really need to amend to make it clear that it is not true in all cases.
 

rail-britain

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Does this apply to websites?
Chiltern Railways website claims to be :
http://www.chilternrailways.co.uk/c/terms
16. Impartial Retailing
We offer an impartial service representing all Train Operating Companies. We do not currently support ferry bookings, supplementary tickets, motorail service or berth bookings on Caledonian Sleeper Service

East Coast website claims to be :
http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/-general-links-/general-terms/
Impartial retailing
Our full website offers an impartial service selling every variation of ticket available around the UK representing all Train Operating Companies. We do not currently support Ferry bookings, supplementary tickets, Motorail services or Berth bookings on Caledonian Sleeper services

East Midlands Trains website claims to be :
http://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk/Legal/Pages/TermsAndConditions.aspx
Impartial retailing
Our website offers an impartial service selling every variation of ticket available around the UK representing all Train Operating Companies. We do not currently support ferry bookings, supplementary tickets, Motorail or Eurostar services

Southeastern website claims to be :
http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/p/terms/
Impartial Retailing
This website offers an impartial service selling an extensive range of tickets around the UK representing all Train Operating Companies. We do not currently support Ferry bookings, supplementary tickets, Sleeper services or Eurostar bookings

South West Trains website claims to be (within the thetrainline terms) :
http://www.southwesttrains.co.uk/terms-and-conditions.aspx
Use of the Booking Service
Our Booking Service offers an impartial service selling tickets available around the UK representing all train operating companies

Virgin Trains website claims to be :
http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/terms-conditions/
Our Booking Service offers an impartial service selling tickets available around the UK representing all train operating companies

However hidden under this are further disclaimers that in most cases the Booking Service will only provide details for the fastest journey time and there may be cheaper fares available on other operators routes or services or at off-peak times
 
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