Split Tickets, Trainsplit and Delay Repay

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by methethpropbut, 27 Mar 2019.

  1. methethpropbut

    methethpropbut Member

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    I stumbled upon this post and thought of an interesting edge case that I thought I'd share here:

    For a flow that I occasionally use (Alloa ALO - Edinburgh Park EDP) the Anytime Single SDS and Off Peak Day Return CDR fares happen to be the same at 6.15 with a railcard. When booking a split ticket from ALO to destinations via the East Coast mainline, sometimes trainsplit offers a split at EDP. However they offer the ALO-EDP CDR (instead of SDS) with an advance from EDP, with the return portion of the CDR left unused.

    While the prices of the CDR and SDS are identical, with delay repay it seems like the SDS is objectively better here - in the event of a delay the passenger obtains compensation based on the SDS price, instead of half of the CDR price, and if no delay happens the price paid is the same regardless.

    Appreciate any thoughts about this.
     
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  3. Indigo2

    Indigo2 Established Member

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    Another way of looking at it is that the return fare is better value, because it allows more travel than the single fare does, for the same price.

    A different (and only partially hypothetical) scenario: for a journey into London, there is an Off-Peak Day Return, a Day Travelcard and an Anytime Day Single available for the same price. Which should be offered?
     
  4. js517

    js517 Member

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    If a customer has indicated that they only wish to make a journey in one direction, i'd argue that the return fare isn't better value to that customer.
     
  5. Indigo2

    Indigo2 Established Member

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    What if a Travelcard was the same price? Where do you draw the line between giving the customer exactly what they asked for, and giving them something that's potentially better value or more use to them depending on various unpredictable circumstances? E.g. if a customer asks for a single to London Zone 1, should you give them a single to Zones 1 & 2 instead because that's the same price but offers more validity, which could be useful if their circumstances change?

    I don't mean these as rhetorical questions by the way; I'm genuinely interested in establishing what the consensus opinion is.
     
  6. tony_mac

    tony_mac Established Member

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    If they are the same price, I would expect to be offered the return / travelcard. If I've got it, I may be able to make use of it. And I almost certainly won't be bothered claiming for delays anyway.
    Maybe have an 'expert' option to optimise for potential delay repay, that could also look for high-risk connections? ;)
     
  7. Haywain

    Haywain Established Member

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    In simple terms, caveat emptor (buyer beware). If you are splitting tickets to save money, it may have unintended consequences.
    In the world of ticket offices, we would question the customer to establish which of the options is most beneficial. Questions are asked in other ways in self-service situations, but perhaps less effectively.
     
  8. js517

    js517 Member

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    The issue could presumably apply to a purchase which didn't involve splitting tickets though.

    Assuming the customer isn't given the choice during the booking process:

    From the retailer perspective, isn't selling the single safer as it doesn't open you up to possible complaints from customers who can't claim all of the delay repay they believe they're 'owed'? No customer could reasonably complain that they weren't sold the return ticket for the single journey they specified.

    If there is no possible negative impact to offering a ticket with additional validity then it would seem reasonable to sell them it.
     
  9. Haywain

    Haywain Established Member

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    In which case 'buyer beware' still applies, if not more so.
     
  10. kieron

    kieron Established Member

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    A ticket to a few stops further down the line often allows more travel for the same price. It isn't much good having all this validity if you're not going to use it, though. Unless it saves money, the extra validity is just something the customer hasn't asked for and probably doesn't want or need.

    I think nre.co.uk's way of handling things seems reasonable. If you asks for a single journey, it usually offers you a single ticket by default, but may offer a return ticket or a travelcard if that costs less. You can change the ticket selected before you select "buy", so the site's choice doesn't restrict you at all. As ever with NRE, it doesn't always work like this.
     
  11. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    I think long-term, the answer is to give the customer a choice about which ticket eactly they want for each leg after their journey after split options have been generated.

    This would give the customer more options and informed choice, solving the problem we see here, but there are may reasons why this might be desirable apart from this situation. For example, it might be the case that one of the tickets is a Standard Advance, and a First Advance is avilable at £5 more. Another Standard Advance in the same journey might only have the upgrade to First option of the First Anytime Single, which could easily be a £200 differnece. For this reason the customer might want to upgrade to first but only for part of their journey. In addition it might be that the customer has utility in off peak tickets for part of their journey only, either at the end or the beginning, as this will allow them to wait for their Advance booked service or spend one of their connections at a more personally desirable location, for just a small premium price over a long chain of Advances. A good example of this is I once booked two Advances Bristol Parkway to Cheltenham Spa (and return) which came to ~20p less than the CDR fare which would have been valid, as part of a longer journey to Birmingham, through Trainsplit. If the option had existed to swap the two Advances for the CDR at a marginal cost of ~20p, I would have taken it to provide extra flexibility in the event of either disruption or a change of plans.

    This is more likely to be an 'expert feature' though and I think the typical customer will want to be able to just select 'reccomended tickets' and have done with it, rather than being asked about each leg if they're interested in a £10 upgrade to First Class for 45 minutes of their journey only, or if they want to swap two Advances for a flexible return for 40p.

    It is close to impossible to get value for money out of an Advance ticket in each direction from a same-day return journey after 0829 between Bristol Parkway and Cheltenham Spa. It is very unlikely you will be able to beat the £10 CDR by more than a few pence, which makes in unworthwhile. A similar situation exists on both EMT and Northern between Nottingham and Sheffield, where if you compare respective Advance and CDR prices, even with two of the cheapest Advances you are only just beating the CDR price.

    I would personally expect a ticket office to advise me if I were about to buy two Advance tickets that only saved a tiny proportion of the fare over a more flexible return, just as I would expect to be advised if I were about to buy a single where I could come back at just a few pence more - or in the case raised by the OP for exactly the same price. Whether the majority of retail staff would actually do this though is a seperate question!
     
    Last edited: 1 Apr 2019
  12. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I see no adverse "unintended consequence" as a direct result of "splitting tickets to save money".
    But how many ticket offices would ask which of the fares the passenger wishes to buy, if presented with the option above?

    I suspect approaching 99% would just sell the single fare without asking, which may be what someone whose priority is Delay Repay eligibility would want to get, but is not the preference of myself, @tony_mac and others.
     
  13. methethpropbut

    methethpropbut Member

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    Thank you to all, certainly didn't expect to see so many other cases which warrant looking into! I agree with the suggestion that an 'expert feature' would allow for greater liberty to the customer (if it could even be feasibly implemented, it sounds like it would be almost a nightmare to program!) - and examples like these are important for when a customer might opt for a fare that isn't the first one offered by the system.

    Personally (and in the case of my journey) I think a CDR at the beginning of one's journey is not very useful in the return direction since the intention is to travel further and not to return to my origin! Similarly if someone were to book a ticket into London with the intention of, say, flying out of the country (though that intent is obviously harder to state to a computer) it can be argued that the return portion is not very useful to the customer. If it were possible it'll be best for all the options to be presented to the customer of course - hopefully something can be worked out :D
     
  14. Haywain

    Haywain Established Member

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    I couldn't honestly say, but all of the ones I have worked in and many others I have had connections with.
     

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