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Supercomplaint to ORR on rail delay compensation

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krus_aragon

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BBC said:
Train companies are making it too difficult for delayed rail passengers to receive compensation, consumer group Which? has claimed.

It is making a so-called super-complaint to the railway regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

Which? said that as many as 47 million journeys a year end in cancellation or delay, and it should be easier for passengers to get their money back.

The ORR said it was already working to improve the situation.

Under the super-complaint rules, the ORR now has 90 days to respond and to announce whether it will take action.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35134682

Reference is made to the fact that several franchises are still operating the old Passenger's Charter rules, and Virgin's introduction of automatic refunds. The lack of on-train announcements and ready dispensation of claim forms are among the issues raised.

Also, I was unaware that Osborne suggested lowering the Delay Repay threshold to 15 minutes in the Autumn Statement...
 
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BestWestern

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35134682

Reference is made to the fact that several franchises are still operating the old Passenger's Charter rules, and Virgin's introduction of automatic refunds. The lack of on-train announcements and ready dispensation of claim forms are among the issues raised.

Also, I was unaware that Osborne suggested lowering the Delay Repay threshold to 15 minutes in the Autumn Statement...

I don't think most other travel industries tend to throw compensation leaflets at passengers the moment a delay occurs, and in my experience a TOC's 'leaflet library', including the above, is almost always readily available at all major stations and a sizeable chunk of it at many smaller ones as well. And of course everything is available online or at a ticket office.

Compensation for delays of 15 minutes is unworkable and, frankly, silly. I do wish Government would stop attempting to score points by hammering the railway network that it's own people micromanage.
 

SPADTrap

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What is a super complaint? A very strongly worded passive aggressive letter they immediately felt guilty for sending? :razz:
 

jon0844

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The BBC points out that many people are too lazy to claim. I don't think it's particularly difficult to make a claim, so shouldn't the complaint be directed at customers?!
 

AM9

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The BBC points out that many people are too lazy to claim. I don't think it's particularly difficult to make a claim, so shouldn't the complaint be directed at customers?!

I think that the complaint centres on the complexity of claiming, especially when travelling on more than one TOC's services per journey, and the obfuscation that some TOCs practice through their customer facing staff. If there is a low take-up of compensation, it would be helpful for all to know why, (although the TOCs probably prefer and profit from the current state of confusion).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I don't think most other travel industries tend to throw compensation leaflets at passengers the moment a delay occurs, and in my experience a TOC's 'leaflet library', including the above, is almost always readily available at all major stations and a sizeable chunk of it at many smaller ones as well. And of course everything is available online or at a ticket office.

Compensation for delays of 15 minutes is unworkable and, frankly, silly. I do wish Government would stop attempting to score points by hammering the railway network that it's own people micromanage.

'Other travel industries' are either totally dependent on the availability of a public asset, e.g. road, where claims would be impossible to reconcile, or are heavily regulated by law, e.g. the airlines (who are currently being made to stick to the EU rules) that are there for the benefit all air travellers.
I agree that the rail industry makes leaflets available to passengers, but there is so much inconsistency around that many just can't be bothered to waste any more time chasing around for the small refunds which may have no relevance to actual cost to the passenger of poor timekeeping.
 

BestWestern

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I think that the complaint centres on the complexity of claiming, especially when travelling on more than one TOC's services per journey, and the obfuscation that some TOCs practice through their customer facing staff. If there is a low take-up of compensation, it would be helpful for all to know why, (although the TOCs probably prefer and profit from the current state of confusion).

The Government is responsible for the franchising mess, not the TOCs. From what I can see, the operators do their bit by providing literature which makes it quite clear how late you need to be and what you are then entitled to. All the passenger has to do is send in the details. Surely most people who are able to undertake a multi-TOC rail journey are also capable of identifying where in their journey a delay occurred?

For an example of misleading customers and blatantly dodging rules to circumvent paying compensation, just take a look at the airline industry. Makes the railway look like a charity.
 
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lejog

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http://www.which.co.uk/news/2015/12/which-use-super-complaint-powers-on-rail-industry-428300/

The Government is responsible for the franchising mess, not the TOCs. From what I can see, the operators do their bit by providing literature which makes it quite clear how late you need to be and what you are then entitled to. All the passenger has to do is send in the details. Surely most people who are able to undertake a multi-TOC rail journey are also capable of identifying where in their journey a delay occurred?

For an example of misleading customers and blatantly dodging rules to circumvent paying compensation, just take a look at the airline industry. Makes the railway look like a charity.


Which? said:
Unnecessary compensation barriers

Which? also conducted a mystery shop at 102 train stations asking basic questions on rail delay refunds.

The results revealed that not enough is being done to remove the unnecessary barriers to claiming compensation for passengers:

We were only given a full explanation for the conditions for claiming a refund due to a delay or cancellation in one in five instances
In six out of ten visits we left the station unaware of what we might be entitled to
In around three in five cases we weren’t told that we could request our compensation in cash, even after prompting
In nearly four in ten visits we were given insufficient, if any at all, information that we needed about how long a delay needs to be before we’re due a refund

What is a super complaint? A very strongly worded passive aggressive letter they immediately felt guilty for sending? :razz:

Which? said:
A super-complaint is a unique legal power that allows certain consumer bodies, such as Which?, to complain to regulatory bodies about market features that are significantly harming consumers' interest.

Now that Which? has submitted its super-complaint, the ORR has 90 days to respond.
 
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Stats

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The BBC points out that many people are too lazy to claim. I don't think it's particularly difficult to make a claim, so shouldn't the complaint be directed at customers?!

I agree it's not particularly difficult to make a claim, although with some tocs it is difficult to find their online form.

What Which are seeking is "clear information on how to get a refund for rail delays, with all train companies offering cash as the first option for compensation and for them to be held to account if they fail to encourage passengers to claim refunds (sic)."

So it's not really about making it easier, it's about better awareness.
 

bb21

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The BBC points out that many people are too lazy to claim. I don't think it's particularly difficult to make a claim, so shouldn't the complaint be directed at customers?!

There will always be a significant proportion of people who would rather everything be put on a plate in front of them.

That said, I think as AM9 pointed out, there does seem to be an issue surrounding consistency. For example, I have always found East Coast guards (and now VEC guards) being fairly forward about compensation arrangements when a service was sufficiently delayed, often with leaflets to hand out as they walk through answering questions. Recently I notice that Virgin West Coast guards have also seemingly started doing it. On the other hand, I don't think I have ever heard a Great Western guard announcing it, even on heavily delayed services. Perhaps the complaint should have been addressed to certain TOCs rather than the whole industry.

I don't think confusion over who to claim from when multiple operators suffered delays is a good enough reason not to claim, as TOCs simply forward claims to the right company should a claim be sent to the wrong one. Perhaps what is needed is a one sentence clarification on any printed material.
 

yorkie

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This is just the tip of the iceberg; there are many more ways in which the Train Companies are fleecing us, and in far more serious ways.
In response, the ORR said it had already introduced a new code of conduct, to make buying a ticket more transparent.
What a joke! The code of conduct, which Train Companies should abide by, in order to avoid breaking the law, is being flouted on many occasions. There is no enforcement!

Passengers are overpaying at ticket machines with no warnings. Nothing is done when this is pointed out, with one particular Train Company falsely claiming that the ticket the machines won't sell is a "special offer".

Any journalists interested in some good stories? Please contact me.

Some Train Companies are waging what I consider to be a war on passengers, and if you want to be prepared for battle, you need to do hours of research (we offer free fares workshops to assist with this), otherwise you lose!
 

LowLevel

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A requirement to announce that delay repay is available in being put into franchises as they come up for renewal - it's part of our agreement that if the train as a whole is delayed we have to announce it, or if we come across someone who is likely to become entitled as a result of missing a connection we're meant to tell them individually.

I personally don't carry claim forms around with me as they take up too much room in my already wedged bag, but if I'm waiting to take over a heavily delayed train I sometimes grab some if I'm at a station where they're available.
 

AM9

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The Government is responsible for the franchising mess, not the TOCs. From what I can see, the operators do their bit by providing literature which makes it quite clear how late you need to be and what you are then entitled to. All the passenger has to do is send in the details. Surely most people who are able to undertake a multi-TOC rail journey are also capable of identifying where in their journey a delay occurred?

For an example of misleading customers and blatantly dodging rules to circumvent paying compensation, just take a look at the airline industry. Makes the railway look like a charity.

Airlines are (slowly) being brought to heel. The dodge of declaring 'extraordinary circumstances' as a reason for not delivering their side of the contract when the cause is operational incompetance is being tacked by the courts now.
The main difference between the rail and airline schemes is that a passenger on a delayed train will only get a refund of the fare (or part of it) whereas a passenger on a delayed flight will get compensation, (much to some of the low-cost carriers' anguish). As far as the individual is concerned, a delayed flight can cost them actual loss, either in cash terms or other personal matters. The cost of the flight is totally irrelevant.
If I get an Advance from Euston to Liverpool for £12 each way and am delayed by 2 hours, the impact is the same as being on an anytime ticket, maybe costing 5-10 times the fare.
 

theageofthetra

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Re the EU registered airline compensation a well known travel writer was of the view (and I completely agree) that the current compensation level is unsustainable & will lead to higher fares on budget carriers. He proposed a far fairer system in that compensation is paid at a lower set amount PLUS the cost of the fare.
 

fairysdad

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. . . On the other hand, I don't think I have ever heard a Great Western guard announcing it, even on heavily delayed services. Perhaps the complaint should have been addressed to certain TOCs rather than the whole industry.
I think it must depend on the guard - I've heard two FGW (as was) guards announce that compensation was available on heavily delayed trains, one of whom went down the train handing out leaflets about it as they gave passengers advice about onward connections etc.

I personally didn't claim for a refund on either of those occasions, mostly because I didn't need the money at the time nor was I actually inconvenienced by the delay. I did, however, contact FGW and 'congratulated' the guard in question!
 

Blamethrower

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Having worked for Which? I would suggest that we all lower our expectations of what this can achieve.

A super complaint is just a big whinge.

This is not legally binding, and the recipient just has to acknowledge it.

When I worked there, I was constantly told that you were doing good for the consumer, protecting their rights and standing up for fairness.

Complete and utter horse-*****. The campaigns and super-complaints are only begun once discussions with journalists and politicians/civil servants have been completed. They're only allowed to go for companies that the political bigwigs allow them to.

For example, according to Which? the drinks companies are too powerful to take on regarding the ingredients of their alcoholic drinks. They're allowed to take on supermarkets and food producers because that's allowed, but you can't take on the drinks industry despite there being mountains of evidence that every alcoholic drink "brewed" in the UK is toxic to try and make us drink less.
 

Frontera2

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The ironic thing is that for most operators, if they are forced to pay Delay Repay at say 15 minutes, the fare paying passenger and / or the taxpayer will pay for it in the long run.

Franchise agreements and subsidies include provisions for Delay Repay. If an operator is forced to pay out more money, you can be sure that they will demand higher subsidy in return for it.. Whether we like it or not, railways are now private businesses and operate whenever they can on pure business models.

Same reason more trains don't run on Boxing Day.. The DfT won't subsidise it and there's no money in it to run on a commercial basis.
 

DelayRepay

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I know people who don't claim delay repay, simply because they have season tickets and don't think it's worth filling in a form for £3.20. They are the same kind of people who don't collect their loyalty stamps at Café Nero and won't bother to move their bank account to one paying more interest. Some people just aren't interested in collecting small amounts of cash/vouchers and will never bother to claim. I guess as smartcard based tickets become more common you could try to automatically refund some people but it will never be complete or perfect.

I don't see how the TOCs can be blamed for people not wanting to spend a few minutes filling in a form.

In an ideal world, I would change delay repay to make the length of qualifying delay proportional to the length of the journey. As a commuter I can be delayed for 20 minutes every day for a week, yet receive nothing. However someone travelling longer distance can receive money back for a 31 minute delay.

But in a real ideal world I would rather the money be reinvested into more staff, infrastructure improvements and new stock, so there are fewer delays in the first place!
 

gimmea50anyday

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The BBC points out that many people are too lazy to claim. I don't think it's particularly difficult to make a claim, so shouldn't the complaint be directed at customers?!

I have to agree. On many occasions when I have a delayed train, i proactively work the train informing everyone of their rights to claim and how to do it. A number of people will however decline my offer as they cant be arsed to go through the rigmoural, or they will decline my request for their details to pass on to customer relations on their behalf
 

Chrisgr31

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Southern are quite active at encouraging passengers to claim Delay Repay, and whilst it is a bit of an effort to claim the £2.60 for 30 minutes delay one way it is worth it as they mount up.

However the way the compensation for season tickets is calculated seems flawed, as it is based on 520 journeys so effectively 260 days travel or 52 weeks of 5 days travel a year. In London people may use their annual travelcard on weekends, and holidays, but the vast majority of passengers will use their ticket for a maximum of 230 days ie 46 weeks (52 less 4 for holidays and 2 for bank holidays).

Also at present those with paper based tickets can claim for any train whether they were on it or not, and quite a few seem to claim for the most delayed train or for delays when they were not travelling.

In the meantime those with the Key can't and can get valid claims rejected because for example they wanted to go to London Bridge, but were advised to go via Victoria instead and got there less than 30 minutes late but of course still need to get to London Bridge. There should be no reason why compensation for those using The Key and other such smartcards cant be issued automatically.

Oh and for some time Southerns delay repay vouchers have been exchangeable for cash.
 

AM9

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But in a real ideal world I would rather the money be reinvested into more staff, infrastructure improvements and new stock, so there are fewer delays in the first place!

It won't though, - it will just add to the margins.
 

Llanigraham

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I think that the complaint centres on the complexity of claiming, especially when travelling on more than one TOC's services per journey, and the obfuscation that some TOCs practice through their customer facing staff. If there is a low take-up of compensation, it would be helpful for all to know why, (although the TOCs probably prefer and profit from the current state of confusion).

What complexity?
Only 3 times have I had to claim:
1/ Send letter to ATW about a late train and received RTV's to the value of the tickets a week later.
2/ ATW train delayed due to a fault. Delay forms issued by Guard. RTV's recieved in the post.
3/ Delayed on a Virgin element of a journey, by a signal failure, on tickets bought from ATW. Virgin forms collected from Ticket Office half way through return journey and sent off. RTV's to greater value then the whole journey ticket value received a week later.
No complexity there!!
 

ainsworth74

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What complexity?
Only 3 times have I had to claim:
1/ Send letter to ATW about a late train and received RTV's to the value of the tickets a week later.
2/ ATW train delayed due to a fault. Delay forms issued by Guard. RTV's recieved in the post.
3/ Delayed on a Virgin element of a journey, by a signal failure, on tickets bought from ATW. Virgin forms collected from Ticket Office half way through return journey and sent off. RTV's to greater value then the whole journey ticket value received a week later.
No complexity there!!

So a nice large sample size you've got there taking in a wide geographic area encompassing the whole GB rail network and its many TOCs :lol:
 

3141

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Having worked for Which? I would suggest that we all lower our expectations of what this can achieve....

...When I worked there, I was constantly told that you were doing good for the consumer, protecting their rights and standing up for fairness.

Complete and utter horse-*****. The campaigns and super-complaints are only begun once discussions with journalists and politicians/civil servants have been completed. They're only allowed to go for companies that the political bigwigs allow them to...

Really interesting. Which? is known as Whinge in our household. Testing products now occupies less than half of the monthly magazine. The boys and girls there find it much more fun to "campaign". When it does its annual survey of satisfaction with rail services it regularly gets things wrong: the best one was about four years back when it reported Merseyrail passengers' delight with the "new trains". Objectivity and accuracy no longer matter.
 

StateOfPlay

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GNRail are inundated with claims at the moment, they have so many train crew shortages which are leading to cancelling trains that I think they might go bankrupt if everyone who was delayed claimed delay repay.

But I shall be claiming for the delay repay as I am fed up with the sheer number of trains being cancelled and can't believe how poorly the service is since it changed hands from FCC. And that is saying something!
 

Skutter

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My first reaction on reading this on the BBC news site was "WHICH announce their seasonal publicity drive".

Just me?
 

AM9

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What complexity?
Only 3 times have I had to claim:
1/ Send letter to ATW about a late train and received RTV's to the value of the tickets a week later.
2/ ATW train delayed due to a fault. Delay forms issued by Guard. RTV's recieved in the post.
3/ Delayed on a Virgin element of a journey, by a signal failure, on tickets bought from ATW. Virgin forms collected from Ticket Office half way through return journey and sent off. RTV's to greater value then the whole journey ticket value received a week later.
No complexity there!!

Well you, like most posters here have a far greater knowledge of the rail network, its constituent TOCs, how the delay schemes work, how to retrospectively find out the running times of trains, etc.. The average passenger would have to spend some time finding out where this information is available and then how it works.
The biggest issue here is that the passenger has to do the groundwork and identify which TOC (or TOCs) is/are to be approached. Claiming for poor performance of 'the railway' where a passenger has purchased one ticket from a booking office (usually the starting station) would seem to indicate that the claim should also be made through that office because that is where they made their contract to travel. Whether the ludicrous intricacies of this pseudo-privatised railway mean that the responsibility lies somewhere else depending on this or that is irrelevant. The customer should not need to know the structure of the industry just to put a legitimate claim in.
This obfuscation is the main problem which just puts the majority of the calimants off bothering. If I buy an electronic appliance from John Lewis* that had a fault on it, - say a Sony product*, I take it straight back to John Lewis as the company that took my money. I don't expect to get into a research project to determine whether it was the delivering carrier's, the retailer's, the UK Sony sales organisation's, the international shipping company's or the manufacturer's responsibility. Why should it be different for rail customer service?

* - other retailers and product brands are available. :)
 

Starmill

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I personally don't carry claim forms around with me as they take up too much room in my already wedged bag, but if I'm waiting to take over a heavily delayed train I sometimes grab some if I'm at a station where they're available.

Some trains have room for leaflet racks in them. This would be one of the most useful things that could go in them!

I have a lot of journeys, a huge proportion of them seem to go wrong and I really do not have enough time to chase them all up.

Only last week I remembered to call ScotRail about a delay of 32 minutes in September and a journey where no First Class Accommodation was available but was scheduled to be, and for which I held a First Class ticket back in October. I had filled in their webform with images of tickets and details on both occasions within a week of the journey. To their credit the advisor was very apologetic and helpful and said they will get a resolution to me as soon as possible, but apparently the problem was that my webforms had been recieved and logged but not allocated a case reference for the admin staff to respond to. An 'administrative error' apparently. I wonder how many administrative errors they have had in the past few months eh!
 
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sprinterguy

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The ORR has responded:
ORR statement in response to Which? passenger compensation super-complaint
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has received a super-complaint from Which? requesting a review of rail passenger compensation arrangements and practices within the industry when train services are delayed. Over the next 90 days, we’ll examine and test the evidence to determine whether the complaint requires further action.

A spokesperson for the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said:
"Passengers must be at the heart of the railways and are crucial to its growth and success. They are entitled to compensation when they do not receive the service they have paid for. Compensation also acts as an incentive for the industry to deliver a better service.

"The rail industry has been working to improve overall standards of service for rail passengers. However, our research has shown that passenger awareness of how and when to claim compensation is low. The industry has recently taken positive steps – such as signing up to a Code of Practice on providing clear information to passengers when they buy rail tickets, which includes their compensation rights. We will be assessing whether more could and should be done for passengers as we investigate this complaint."

To know more about ORR's work to protect consumer interests visit: http://orr.gov.uk/what-and-how-we-regulate/consumers and http://orr.gov.uk/info-for-passengers.

• ORR has recently issued new rail industry complaints handling guidance to ensure that insight from passenger complaints is used by train operators to tackle root causes of dissatisfaction and improve the passenger experience. http://orr.gov.uk/news-and-media/pr...try-guidance-on-handling-passenger-complaints.

• ORR’s review of the rail ticket market will determine whether the industry arrangements as well as rules and regulations on ticket selling – which are over 20 years old – are still relevant and providing the best outcome for passengers. http://orr.gov.uk/what-and-how-we-regulate/consumers/consumer-policy/?a=18196.
 

TUC

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I don't think most other travel industries tend to throw compensation leaflets at passengers the moment a delay occurs

When? I can only think of one or two occeasions when compnsation forms have been offered on delayed trains in which I have been travelling.
 

Blamethrower

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Really interesting. Which? is known as Whinge in our household. Testing products now occupies less than half of the monthly magazine. The boys and girls there find it much more fun to "campaign". When it does its annual survey of satisfaction with rail services it regularly gets things wrong: the best one was about four years back when it reported Merseyrail passengers' delight with the "new trains". Objectivity and accuracy no longer matter.

Heh, with good reason no doubt!

They are particularly un-educated when it comes to railways so starting this super-complaint is probably just going to make them look silly.

They do some good things (free computer training for old people) but they are mostly just hot air.

Another example, car reviews are all taken from Stiftungswarentest in Germany and they add a little bit themselves after driving round the Regents park block.
You can be sure that they test iPhones, washing machines and toasters but when it comes to knowledge about railways and cars (the most expensive stuff) they are seriously lacking.
 
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