Walk-up fares should be sold with a "price won't change" caveat

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calc7

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Along with the old favourite of The Trainline selling the cheapest fares, a very common misconception is that trains will always be cheaper when booked in advance.

I have had a very hard time convincing both friends and colleagues that walk-up tickets will be the same price whether bought 3 months or 3 minutes before the train departs (bar sporadic online sales, which are clearly marketed).

Should online booking sites, telesales and booking offices be told to remind customers that the ticket they wish to purchase will be the same if bought today, tomorrow or on December 31st? I know that walk-up fares can be refunded but the £10 admin charge makes this useless for many tickets, and the faff of refunding online tickets already collected from a TVM means I reckon many don't bother. Add to this the fact you can lose the tickets or have them stolen.

I would like to think if we didn't have ticket sellers pushing this line of "book in advance to save" (which is false for fewer flows than it is true) then I wouldn't see my friends and colleagues throwing away money when they don't end up travelling.

Discuss.
 
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emorris

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The only reason I can see of booking ahead is that you may be more likely to get a seat reservation for longer journeys on busier trains.

Also, for some people wanting reservations, having an extra trip to the ticket office earlier in the day or the day before may be difficult. I suppose you could book them online the day before in this case, though.
 

emorris

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They should do what I do - find a ticket office with relaxed rules on charging admin fees for refunds prior to travelling :p
I once found a ticket office - can't remember which - who actually excessed my ticket when I forgot my railcard!
 

RJ

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*watches RJ's inbox fill up with "Which ticket office?" PMs ;) *
Fire away...I don't reply now, because in the past I've responded to people wanting useful information before who don't even acknowledge or say a thank you for the help!

It's just a concept worth putting out there :p
 

calc7

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Example:

Trevor lives in London and travels to Milton Keynes thrice a week to visit his mother. He usually buys the Off-Peak Day Return route Virgin Trains Only priced at £14.50. His trains can never possibly be packed to the rafters.

He goes online and books these tickets for the next two months - he is 99% sure to be travelling and The Trainline has told him it's cheaper to book there in advance!!!

He breaks his leg and the doctor has told him to rest it for 6 weeks.

Besides the fact he can only get back £4.50 per ticket (as per the protocol, I realise there could be compassion involved) and the fact that tickets bought online are more fussy to refund, he's really lost out.
 

W-on-Sea

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Well, there is also the issue that the dates of incremental price increases/revisions are (the annual season-ticket rise in January apart) barely announced publicly anywhere...

Agreed that the advertising of the Trainline etc is almost certainly deliberately misleading...
 

sheff1

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Well, if your friends / colleagues prefer to believe advertising spin to your informed advice, more fool them.

I would, though, like to see 'the price won't change' strapline if it means the end of uninformed guards making up their own rules and trying to charge extra for travelling via a route they don't like or on a train they think shouldn't be 'off peak' :cry:
 
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