Southern admit they were wrong to sell GX "supplement".

Status
Not open for further replies.

dvboy

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
1,884
Location
Birmingham
For the background please refer to the thread I recently created here which went off on a bit of a tangent:
http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?t=62554&highlight=gatwick+express

In simple terms, "Gatwick Express" gateline staff sold me a "supplement" to travel on a GX branded train with the return part of a "Southern Only" ticket.

I wrote in to Southern to complain I had since learnt that this was contradictory to the NRCOC as Southern and Gatwick Express are one and the same company. They wrote to me to say they would refund me, and wrote to me again last week to request I phone or write to them with my card details to process the refund - the amount not specified or the reasons why.

I have just got off the phone with Southern Customer Services who, after giving them the reference number and explaining briefly my complaint, told me they would refund me not only the supplement but the original return ticket also, totalling £18.70.

I asked the person I was speaking to if this meant that because they had decided refund me, Southern agreed with me that I should not have been sold the supplement ticket in the first place and he said "that is correct, yes."

I believe this is the third such example of Southern admitting they are breaking the NRCOC in relation to GX, perhaps Yorkie could confirm?
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

yorkie

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
6 Jun 2005
Messages
50,817
Location
Yorkshire
Thanks for the feedback. I never doubted the outcome, but it's good to hear :)
I believe this is the third such example of Southern admitting they are breaking the NRCOC in relation to GX, perhaps Yorkie could confirm?
I've advised 3 people who have been charged and proof read their letters to Southern. In all 3 cases, a refund has been given.:)

I am not aware of any case of anyone being charged who has subsequently been denied a refund.

Also on an occasion when on-train checks (ie, before ticket barriers were installed) were common, 3 groups of 3-4 people each, took 3 consecutive trains, most of whom held tickets that were only valid on Southern trains. Each of the groups carried documentation with them such as the Southern route map etc, and all 3 groups were told that these tickets were not valid but were "let off" once the Southern map (showing Gatwick Express route correctly as merely a route operated by Southern and not a "other train operator route") was produced.

Before anyone replies saying that none of this proves anything, people can draw their own conclusions and make their own choice regarding whether or not to use a ticket marked Southern Only on the Gatwick Express "operated by Southern" ;)
 

island

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Dec 2010
Messages
11,319
Location
0036
I wonder if this would constitute an unfair commercial practice under EU law? Essentially, Southern is claiming you must pay a higher price, but admitting the lower price when challenged.
 

HowMuch?

Member
Joined
3 Sep 2009
Messages
159
I'm a bit confused by the layers of ironic humour here. The regular contributors clearly know the facts and each others' positions, and are therefore free to be humorous without misunderstanding each other.

But as a newbie, I'm rather confused who is saying what?

So can I just check?.....

Who really feels that these are separate TOCs?
- Have I understood you to say that that passengers are legitimately being charged this supplement? And are you saying that these reports of refunds (of the whole ticket price, not just the supplement) demonstrate that the company is so customer-friendly that if any of the (x thousands per year?) of passengers question this correctly-levied supplement, they get a refund just for asking ?
- I find this incredible - what have I misunderstood? Or are you being ironic?

Who really feels that this is one TOC operating under multiple brands?
- Have I understood you to say that a company would knowingly charge (how many people per year?) an incorrect supplement, but then implicitly admit it by repaying it, AND the whole ticket price - but only to the number of customers who challenge them? And that this practice is not treated by the rail regulator (and police) as repeatedly obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception?
- I find this incredible. I assume I have misunderstood and misrepresented your argument somewhere? Or have I been taken in by your 'British sense of humour'?
 
Last edited:

yorkie

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
6 Jun 2005
Messages
50,817
Location
Yorkshire
Who really feels that this is one TOC operating under multiple brands?
There are many on this forum who hold that view.

Here is some evidence to support it:-

Department for Transport


  • FOI response (to this question).
    "The Gatwick Express website www.gatwickexpress.com makes it clear that Gatwick Express is managed and operated by Southern.

    The Department has discussed the status of Gatwick Express with Southern who agree that there is no separate Gatwick Express franchise or Train Operating Company."
Southern website


  • http://www.southernrailway.com/southern/company-info/
    "In 2008, Southern took over the running of the Gatwick Express service and in December of that year as part of a major timetable change, we extended Gatwick Express services to run from and to Brighton in the morning and evening weekday peak periods using additional trains."
Southern Network Map


Gatwick Express website



Facebook

ATOC list of Train Companies

  • http://www.atoc.org/train-companies
    Southern listed. Gatwick Express no longer listed. This is the definitive list. (But bear in mind ATOC will give different answers depending on which department you ask. Different departments within ATOC appear to be at war with each other on various issues!)
 

causton

Established Member
Joined
4 Aug 2010
Messages
5,502
Location
Somewhere between WY372 and MV7
So can I just check?.....

Basically, to the average member of the public they are two TOCs.

However, they are one company, so surely they must be one TOC (Train Operating Company)?
They do know that we have understood it, but obviously they do not want to lose their revenue stream from the 'premium' Gatwick Express service.
So they are seemingly prepared to give a refund when questioned under the name of good customer service and so we don't kick up a fuss, but to the average passenger they see GatEx as a seperate brand (as it was until recently) and are willing to pay the extra.

I would advise you to take your own stance on this :)
 

tannedfrog

Member
Joined
26 Jun 2010
Messages
537
I was at Gatwick recently, all the staff I saw in the train station area were wearing a Gatwick Express uniform! Was tempted to ask them who they worked for, but was in a rush for a plane
 

yorkie

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
6 Jun 2005
Messages
50,817
Location
Yorkshire
I was at Gatwick recently, all the staff I saw in the train station area were wearing a Gatwick Express uniform! Was tempted to ask them who they worked for, but was in a rush for a plane
That question does not go down well with some of them and could result in them calling the police (!)
Oh but be careful! One member of this forum asked "who pays your wages?" this was deemed to be a "personal" question and the matter was referred to a BTP community officer because it is apparently not permitted to ask such such a question. For the record, the forum member was trying to purchase a Southern only ticket from the ticket machine when he was approached by a member of staff who claimed to work for a company called Gatwick Express (which is, as confirmed by Companies House, a non-trading company that ceased to exist in 2008) and informed him that if he proceeded with the purchase his ticket would not be valid.
Some of them will also use various tactics to try to convince passengers to purchase the "Any Permitted" ticket to London Victoria (specifically; so not valid on FCC into London Bridge), even a customer going to Lee was recommended that option (and to take the tube to London Bridge! Yes, really!). Someone else asked for the "cheapest" ticket to London and was directed to that fare, despite it being around twice the cheapest (FCC Only or Southern Only) fare.
 
Last edited:

34D

Established Member
Joined
9 Feb 2011
Messages
6,031
Location
Yorkshire
As it happens, I also think selling a supplement was the wrong thing to do, if anything, it should have been a new ticket or even an excess.

Is there a difference between a supplement and an excess?

Why ought it to be a new ticket, when travelling on a ticket marked Southern only on a southern service?
 

hairyhandedfool

Established Member
Joined
14 Apr 2008
Messages
8,837
....Who really feels that these are separate TOCs?
- Have I understood you to say that that passengers are legitimately being charged this supplement? And are you saying that these reports of refunds (of the whole ticket price, not just the supplement) demonstrate that the company is so customer-friendly that if any of the (x thousands per year?) of passengers question this correctly-levied supplement, they get a refund just for asking ?
- I find this incredible - what have I misunderstood? Or are you being ironic?....

I'm not saying they are different Train Operating Companies (TOCs) or Franchises, because DfT have confirmed they are. Myself and maybe one or two others are saying that the National Rail Conditions of Carriage (NRCoC - which, unlike letters from the DfT, are actually part of the contract) define Gatwick Express and Southern as separate "train companies" for the purposes of train company restricted tickets (such as 'Rte Southern Only'), which DfT also confirm.

I will say at this point that refunding three or four passengers is a lot better for business then having everyone think the company is trying to rip them off (regardless of them doing so or not). Company image is quite important when you could lose a lucrative franchise because of it.

It is interesting that Yorkie mentions this FOI response from Peter Lepper (DfT) as part of his 'proof', considering what he then goes on to say about ATOC. He also used this as proof in the last thread on the subject. It states that they are the same franchise, but makes no mention of the NRCoC, despite being specifically asked about it.

However, in the last thread that went into any detail, another FOI response from Peter Lepper (DfT) turned up which stated that under NRCoC Condition 10 they were not the same company. Yorkie's response was somewhat obvious and predictable though.....

Well, the DfT are also telling porkies, by telling some respondents that Gatwick Express is a Company, and others that it isn't. They were asked specifically for the purposes of NRCoC Condition 10 a while back so the argument that their answer can vary depending on the question doesn't wash (and is absurd).

Roll your eyes all you like, if you support the DfT and Southern then that is your choice but we can all make up our own minds on that.

We can indeed make up our own minds, on a number of things. Peter Lepper (DfT) is clearly as honest as a very honest thing that is trying it's hardest to be honest when it suits Yorkie, but is the most devious liar in history of mankind on a particularly evil day when it doesn't. I'll leave you to ponder on that, but I will say that if you actually read both carefully, they are BOTH correct in what they actually say.

Is there a difference between a supplement and an excess?

Why ought it to be a new ticket, when travelling on a ticket marked Southern only on a southern service?

To answer your first question, a supplement is a separate ticket which is used in conjunction with another, an excess changes one ticket into another. A technical difference maybe, but an important one.

The second question relates to Condition 10 of the NRCoC and it's subsequent definitions (which are part of the terms and conditions of every ticket issued).

A ticket may be restricted to or prohibit use on the services of a particular train company. A train company is defined in the NRCoC, for the purposes of all the conditions, and Gatwick Express is defined as a separate train company to Southern.

Therefore a 'Rte Southern Only' ticket is NOT valid on Gatwick Express services. The excess fares rules state that you cannot excess a "train company" specific fare to use on the services of another "train company". However, as the excess fares rules don't define a "train company", it could either be a new ticket or an excess, depending on your reading of the rule.
 
Last edited:

MikeWh

Established Member
Associate Staff
Senior Fares Advisor
Joined
15 Jun 2010
Messages
6,238
Location
Crayford
The second question relates to Condition 10 of the NRCoC and it's subsequent definitions (which are part of the terms and conditions of every ticket issued).

A ticket may be restricted to or prohibit use on the services of a particular train company. A train company is defined in the NRCoC, for the purposes of all the conditions, and Gatwick Express is defined as a separate train company to Southern.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with this bit. Just because the list of train companies includes both Gatwick Express and Southern does NOT alter the fact that the definition of train company is a company required to apply the NRCoC by virtue of the passenger licence issued to it. There is only one licence, unless someone knows differently, so there is only one company.

It is pretty clear that lawyers acting for both the DfT and Southern failed to spot this issue when negotiating the transfer of Gatwick Express to Southern back in 2008. What they now seem to be doing is raising huge concern because they are trying to cover their tracks by separating Stansted Express from Greater Anglia. The difference here is that Stansted Express serves several other stations as well and is not purely an airport express link to London.
 

hairyhandedfool

Established Member
Joined
14 Apr 2008
Messages
8,837
Ah, but the condition is that if travel is restricted to or prohibited from the services of a particular train company (as listed in the appendix) it has to be noted on the ticket.

If you are saying that the license is issued to one company, in this case Southern Railway Limited, then Southern Railway Limited would have to be shown on the ticket. It is not noted on the ticket though is it?

So if you are then saying that the trading name can be used, then Gatwick Express is not Southern and Southern is not Gatwick Express.
 

Yew

Established Member
Joined
12 Mar 2011
Messages
4,393
Location
Nottingham
If you are saying that the license is issued to one company, in this case Southern Railway Limited, then Southern Railway Limited would have to be shown on the ticket. It is not noted on the ticket though is it?

Try fitting that on a ticket, for most cases 'southern' would be sufficient.

I have bought advance tickets marked 'EMT and connections'. I have heard of a TOC called East Midlands Trains but not 'EMT'
 

hairyhandedfool

Established Member
Joined
14 Apr 2008
Messages
8,837
Try fitting that on a ticket, for most cases 'southern' would be sufficient.

I have bought advance tickets marked 'EMT and connections'. I have heard of a TOC called East Midlands Trains but not 'EMT'

Just like EMT, they could shorten it, perhaps to 'SR' or 'SouthnRwy'.
 

hairyhandedfool

Established Member
Joined
14 Apr 2008
Messages
8,837
So does 'Not Gatwick Exp', but they're not a train operating company are they? Southern isn't a train operating company Southern Railway Limited is. Fact is that trading names are acceptable as substitutes for company names, just ask London and Birmingham Railway and London Eastern Railway, oh, and not forgetting West Coast Trains who even use 'VWC'.
 
Last edited:

WillPS

Established Member
Joined
18 Nov 2008
Messages
2,372
Location
Sheffield
You can't as part of a contract redefine a word like "company". A company is a single trading organisation - if Tesco issued a coupon for use on Tesco condiments with a condition stating that other the voucher was not redeemable against other company's condiments I'd expect to be able to use it on Tesco Everyday Value Ketchup - regardless of whether or not they had printed a list of companies and included "Tesco" and "Tesco Everyday Value" separately.

If the same coupon specifically excluded Tesco Everyday Value products, then I wouldn't expect to be able to spend it on Tesco Everyday Value Ketchup.

Hairyhandedfool's argument that the position has been made clear by this spurious wording is not one which would hold up with any decent regulator, nor a court of law, and I'm confident that's why Southern are refunding any passenger who requests a refund.
 

Solent&Wessex

Established Member
Joined
9 Jul 2009
Messages
2,378
No, but Tesco (and others) do issue coupons and vouchers which are restricted to certain branches of Tesco - for example the small print will say that may not be valid at Tesco Express or Petrol Stations. Those are still Tesco stores, but using a different trading name - and as such there are conditions attached to certain vouchers etc to prevent use in places bearing that branding.

I have to say that I do tend to agree with Hairyhandedfool on this thread.

HOWEVER, that doesn't mean to say that I think all the tickets aren't valid - not least because the wording on the Southern website page about the Daysave ticket would imply that they are.

At no point does it mention Gatwick Express, what it says is "Travel from £12 with Southern DaySave and have unlimited travel on Southern services on the day/week of validity (peak time restrictions may apply). .....

The Network Map shows you the Southern Network, DaySave is only valid on train services provided by Southern..... Please note: You cannot use the services of any other Train Operator with this ticket.....DaySave is only valid on the Southern network....."

And, as yorkie has pointed out, the Network Map does clearly show the "Gatwick Express Route" as a Southern Route, and and not another train company route, so I would argue that a Daysave would be valid - if you read the Daysave page. If you click through to the small print page however it then clarifies it (reading a bit like an afterthought) where it then says in the small print : "DaySave tickets are only valid on trains operated by Southern. Not valid on Gatwick Express. You cannot use the services of any other train operator, or London Underground, with this ticket.".
 

34D

Established Member
Joined
9 Feb 2011
Messages
6,031
Location
Yorkshire
Ah, but the condition is that if travel is restricted to or prohibited from the services of a particular train company (as listed in the appendix) it has to be noted on the ticket.

If you are saying that the license is issued to one company, in this case Southern Railway Limited, then Southern Railway Limited would have to be shown on the ticket. It is not noted on the ticket though is it?

So if you are then saying that the trading name can be used, then Gatwick Express is not Southern and Southern is not Gatwick Express.

If we go with your argument, we in fact have three organised groupings:

Southern Railway Ltd (a limited company formed under the Companies Acts of 1985, 1989 and 2006)
southern TOC (not a statutory company, who operate all the train lines shown in Green on the map referenced earlier)
gatwick express TOC (not a statutory company, who operate all the train lines shown in Red on the map referenced earlier)

For simplicity, I have capitalised the statutory company but not the other two. We then have:
gatwick express is not part of southern, but is part of Southern.

Southern is not part of anything.

southern is part of Southern but not part of gatwick express.

Southern and southern are different

southern + gatwick express = Southern
 

MarkyMarkD

Member
Joined
1 Dec 2009
Messages
504
Location
Cliftonville, Margate, Kent
I think it's even more complicated than that, because a "TOC" is a licensed train operating "company" and that means (using your terminology) Southern Railway Ltd.

But HHF reckons that NRCoC has a different definition of "train company".

So I'd re-express the situation as:

If we go with HHF's argument, we in fact have three organised groupings:

Southern Railway Ltd (a limited company formed under the Companies Acts of 1985, 1989 and 2006 and a licensed TOC, who operate trains under the brand names "southern" and "gatwick express")
southern train company (not a statutory company, or a TOC, but a brand name which constitutes a separate train company under NRCoC, responsible for all the train lines shown in Green on the map referenced earlier)
gatwick express TOC (not a statutory company, or a TOC, but a brand name which constitutes a separate train company under NRCoC, responsible for all the train lines shown in Red on the map referenced earlier)
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top