The trainline.com rip off

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crewmeal

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An example of their fare structure.

Trainline.com: B'ham - Aberystwyth cost £20 + £1 insurance + £3.50 credit card charge.

Arriva same trip - £20 no extra charges.

Why pay 22% more for the same trip. I guess someone has to pay for those stupid ads.
 
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island

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Yup, this is well-known on this forum. Unfortunately their pervasive advertising has got several misconceptions into people's heads, of which people like us have to spend a lot of effort disabusing them. And I don't even succeed all the time.
 

bb21

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Glad that you have realised what a con they are.

On this forum, we go so far as to say that thesheepline never offers the cheapest purchase, as whatever they are offering can be had from somewhere else for less.
 

HST Power

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If they don't actually save you any money then how come they are getting away with these annoying adverts?
 

IanXC

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If they don't actually save you any money then how come they are getting away with these annoying adverts?

As I recall the Advertising Standards Authority has found against them in the past. They just move on to another terrible advert then though.
 

Failed Unit

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If they don't actually save you any money then how come they are getting away with these annoying adverts?

Because thier adverts compare the savings to walk on fares, an AP is normally cheaper them a walk on. They don't say we are always the cheapest.
 

LexyBoy

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If they don't actually save you any money then how come they are getting away with these annoying adverts?

Their current adverts aren't breaking any rules as they are careful to compare apples with oranges: "buying product A through Thesheepline is cheaper than buying product B at the station". The fact that products A and B are different (albeit comparable) and product A can be obtained more cheaply from other outlets (including the station) is misleading but doesn't make the wording of the ad factually incorrect.

That's my understanding anyway!

 

hairyhandedfool

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If they don't actually save you any money then how come they are getting away with these annoying adverts?

The key is in the wording and the small print, I believe the ASA have found against them twice, but each time it was little more than a technical issue about when the small print is seen and how big it is, rather than the stats which, according to the ASA, are sufficiently accurate.

Bear in mind that the advertised savings are an average based on the price paid by their customers in advance of travel, compared with if they had tickets bought at the station on the day of travel for the same journey. Thetrainline provided statistics to back this up, although it is hardly surprising that the facts back the claims, even if the claims are deliberately worded to confuse users.

This form of advertising is quite effective and has been used by other rail ticket retailers.
 

Clip

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Spot on HHF. I remember the last discussion regarding the adverts and they are generally exactly the same apart from the wording being a little bit bigger.

Pretty much what I said back then but people still said the advert wasnt on the telly yet it still is.. Amazing.
 

island

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What really gets me is when people buy walk-on tickets in advance from thetrainline and swear blind they got a bargain!
 

bignosemac

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To the OP. It's heartening to see one more person realise that thetrainline.com are a rip off. :D

Let's not forget, this is a company that used to regard rail passengers as sheep. Unfortunately the trainline.com was attempting to herd them toward their company where they would always end up paying more than at the station or from a Train Operating Company's own website.
 
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jon0844

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Someone should advertise the fact that Trainline.com will NEVER be cheaper than anywhere else, due to the booking fee.

'More expensive in 100% of cases' would be a good slogan, perhaps for other retailers to use when mentioning trainline.com.

The only way it could ever be genuinely cheaper is if it actually sold tickets for less than the face value, and waived any fees, or introduced a discount scheme (e.g. 10% off) for regular customers - again without any fees.

Only then could it ever actually offer better value than other sites that don't charge that booking fee.
 

142094

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What really gets me is when people buy walk-on tickets in advance from thetrainline and swear blind they got a bargain!

That is because people don't know the difference between an Advance Purchase ticket, and buying a ticket in advance.
 

hairyhandedfool

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Someone should advertise the fact that Trainline.com will NEVER be cheaper than anywhere else, due to the booking fee.

'More expensive in 100% of cases' would be a good slogan, perhaps for other retailers to use when mentioning trainline.com.

The only way it could ever be genuinely cheaper is if it actually sold tickets for less than the face value, and waived any fees, or introduced a discount scheme (e.g. 10% off) for regular customers - again without any fees.

Only then could it ever actually offer better value than other sites that don't charge that booking fee.

I think it is fair to point out that at no point do they say they are the cheapest retailer or that they are cheaper than other retailers, all they say is that people who buy from them in advance save an average of 43% on the price of a ticket bought at the station on the day of travel. This misconception is precisely why the marketing works.
 

LexyBoy

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What really gets me is when people buy walk-on tickets in advance from thetrainline and swear blind they got a bargain!

This! I have argued at length with someone who categorically stated that it's cheaper to buy in advance, even for flexible tickets. Although on one occasion I was somewhat undermined when it turned out he was buying a Southern Off Peak ticket when there was in fact a discount booking through Southern's website :oops:
 

Failed Unit

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Then don't get me started on the advance tickets that cost more than the walk-ups. We have discussed many times before.
 

jon0844

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I think it is fair to point out that at no point do they say they are the cheapest retailer or that they are cheaper than other retailers, all they say is that people who buy from them in advance save an average of 43% on the price of a ticket bought at the station on the day of travel. This misconception is precisely why the marketing works.

Oh, I know how they word things to mislead.. and not break the law, but that doesn't mean I can't still moan - given the fact that when someone gets that cheaper ticket, they'll still pay more than finding and buying that same cheap ticket elsewhere.

Trainline.com tries to get people to assume they offer cheaper tickets you can't get elsewhere. In fact, all of their marketing relies on ignorance!
 

WelshBluebird

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I think it is fair to point out that at no point do they say they are the cheapest retailer or that they are cheaper than other retailers, all they say is that people who buy from them in advance save an average of 43% on the price of a ticket bought at the station on the day of travel. This misconception is precisely why the marketing works.

I also think its fair to point out that it is pretty obvious that the adverts, while not technically misleading, are designed to mislead people. They do just enough to stay within the law while at the same time trying to push it with what they can get away with.
 

aformeruser

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The only way it could ever be genuinely cheaper is if it actually sold tickets for less than the face value, and waived any fees, or introduced a discount scheme (e.g. 10% off) for regular customers - again without any fees.

They have been known to send their customers £5 off a £20 spend voucher. Of course it's not £5 off the retail value but £5 off the trainline price.

I think the trainline shows the power of advertising. It's similar to when rivals to BT Directory enquiries were allowed and BT Directory enquiries had to change it's number to be 118 500. The company with the 118 118 number advertised the most and they overnight became the most used directory enquiries number.

There's probably a common misconception that Joe Public thinks he can't buy his tickets from East Coast's website because he is travelling with TPE.
 

bb21

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What really gets me is when people buy walk-on tickets in advance from thetrainline and swear blind they got a bargain!

People who are ignorant yet arrogant at the same time probably deserve to be ripped off.
 

222007

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I have actually recomended to some of my passengers to use any train companys website rather the thetrainline as they will not be charged a booking fee. I had an elderly couple who couldnt understand why they would get a seat reservation when they said we booked through thetrainline i said oh well that explains it. I gave them the phone number for our customer relations team and they went away very happy
 

jon0844

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There's probably a common misconception that Joe Public thinks he can't buy his tickets from East Coast's website because he is travelling with TPE.

Definitely. In my last job, staff used thetrainline.com and I kept saying to use EC (easier site to use) but I could tell they figured that it would only sell EC tickets, or might only offer limited tickets or something.

Basically, they continued to be like the sheep in the advertisements.
 

calc7

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Definitely. In my last job, staff used thetrainline.com and I kept saying to use EC (easier site to use) but I could tell they figured that it would only sell EC tickets, or might only offer limited tickets or something.

Basically, they continued to be like the sheep in the advertisements.

It's so damn annoying isn't it! Every time I see that awful Trainline logo on somebody's monitor I want to shoot them. Not only is it more expensive, but the interface is terrible to use.
 

jon0844

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Yup, but how long can you take to try and explain to these people? Afterwards they'll still assume you were wrong, and ignore you.

I don't think you'd make many friends forcing them to change their mind, even if you're trying to help them.
 

island

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The only way it could ever be genuinely cheaper is if it actually sold tickets for less than the face value, and waived any fees, or introduced a discount scheme (e.g. 10% off) for regular customers - again without any fees.

And it would then go out of business!
 

jon0844

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Well, quite - but I'd not lose much sleep over that.

Of course, drop the booking fee and they'd at least be equal and could compete on how simple and easy it makes it for customers to book (and repeat book).
 

hairyhandedfool

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....given the fact that when someone gets that cheaper ticket, they'll still pay more than finding and buying that same cheap ticket elsewhere.

Trainline.com tries to get people to assume they offer cheaper tickets you can't get elsewhere. In fact, all of their marketing relies on ignorance!

I also think its fair to point out that it is pretty obvious that the adverts, while not technically misleading, are designed to mislead people. They do just enough to stay within the law while at the same time trying to push it with what they can get away with.

Couldn't agree more.

And it would then go out of business!

Sounds good to me.

Yup, but how long can you take to try and explain to these people? Afterwards they'll still assume you were wrong, and ignore you....

Despite selling tickets for a living, my ex was convinced thetrainline could sell tickets cheaper than I could, no amount of reasoning could persuade her the ticket would be the same price if bought from a ticket office. This is not entirely the reason she is now my ex.
 

34D

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Despite selling tickets for a living, my ex was convinced thetrainline could sell tickets cheaper than I could, no amount of reasoning could persuade her the ticket would be the same price if bought from a ticket office. This is not entirely the reason she is now my ex.

Love it!
 

Solent&Wessex

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There's probably a common misconception that Joe Public thinks he can't buy his tickets from East Coast's website because he is travelling with TPE.

That is a big misconception that I try to explain to people on the train regularly. It is the same misconception that many people believe you cannot buy one through ticket if your journey involves more than one TOC.
 

317666

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I tend to use RedSpottedHanky if buying online, there's no postage or card fees, and you get loyalty points, as well as being able to use Tesco Clubcard points to save money on future ticket purchases, so in the long run it actually is cheaper if you always use them.
 
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