What does 'Complementary' mean...?

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Gathursty, 7 Jun 2015.

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  1. Gathursty

    Gathursty Established Member

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    in the phrase 'complementary refreshments'?
     
  2. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    It means 'with our complements' - i.e. free, but you aren't entitled to them. It's so that people can't complain if they aren't available. Okay, they will complain, but the complaint won't be successful.

    Edit: Mmm... something didn't sound right as I was writing that. I think it should've been complimentary.
     
    Last edited: 7 Jun 2015
  3. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Refreshments that combine well with other ones you already have? :)

    I guess you mean "complimentary", though, which basically means "free of additional charge but not guaranteed to be provided". Which I personally dislike in the context of First Class fares, as the fares are set to take into account their provision.
     
  4. martinsh

    martinsh Established Member

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    Really ? I thought the fares were just set to rip you off ?!
     
  5. lightbulb

    lightbulb Member

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    I've complained on several occaasions where the advertised complimentary refreshments on EMT have not been provided. In each case I received Rail Travel Vouchers for £5.
     
  6. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    I've complained to Virgin about this (normally when getting on somewhere down route not at the station starting point and them not coming down to serve you food) and have received a cheuqe on 2 occasions for the difference between the standard and first class fare. More recently though they send a RTV for my ticket value.
     
  7. Haywain

    Haywain Established Member

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    I've had a customer complain about having to pay the same first class price when they didn't want to accept the complimentary refreshments and wondering why we don't have different price levels!
     
  8. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Established Member

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    Free refreshments are in a way both complimentary (with the compliments of the provider) and complementary (make the service complete). ;)
     
  9. Paul Sidorczuk

    Paul Sidorczuk Veteran Member

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    But they travelled, nonetheless, in the first class section where complimentary refreshments can be said to be part of that offered service, so deciding not to take advantage of the offer is a matter of their choosing and thus obviating the point that they made to you.
     
  10. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    I don't like TOCs who don't offer complementary refreshments in their first class and also those who offer the same type of seating (e.g. LM or SN) and think these should just be standard throughout. I also don't like trains which have 1st class randomly put in the middle, rather then at the end of a carriage.

    I had a TOC refuse a complaint from my Mum 11 years ago for not providing any refreshments on the basis that it was not an assured part of the service. She'd sent me up to the Lakes on holiday and I went without any food or drink the whole journey. I was under 18 then and had just started paying adult fares. My Mum was not at all happy and as she'd paid for the ticket through her Credit Card, disputed the payment and got it refunded by the bank who recovered the money from the TOC. This was on the basis that the service paid for was not provided and that the free refreshments were mentioned thoughout the TOCs (the companys) marketing of their first class service.

    I am not sure how such a way of complaining through the credit card company would get on today though....
     
  11. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Well, you will need to take that one up with the DfT who have the ultimate decision on what rolling stock order goes to which TOC. Where commuter style stock is specified (with mid-carriage rather than carriage end doors) it constrains the placement of first class. Either you can have two small areas at either end (ala Scotrail's 170s) or you have a single larger pocket in the middle (as seen on FTPE's 185s).

    Seat type is usually an operator choice, they may be able to justify the higher cost by choose to have the same seat type but offering some additional amenity (e.g. power sockets on Scotrail's 158s) or it may simply be the higher probability of getting a seat in the first place.
    It would be pretty much the same today - it is one of the main benefits of paying by credit card, in the event of a dispute it is the card company that fights the battle, rather than the consumer.
     
  12. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Or you can have what to me is the best layout - half the end coach, with a dedicated door and two smallish (12 seat if 2+2, 9 seat if 2+1), very private-feeling compartments. This is what you get in the Class 321 and it seems to be spot on to me, and is exactly what they should have done in the 185s (with their absolute joke of a layout) and 350s (less stupid but still in the wrong place).

    Doors at thirds do not constrain you to a third or two thirds of the coach. You can always fit an intermediate partition with a door.
     
    Last edited: 9 Jun 2015
  13. Greenback

    Greenback Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Complimentary refreshments are indeed provided with the compliments of the company. Which doesn't mean that they are free, as said earlier the company will take this into account when setting fares.

    I'm not sure I like the idea of complimentary food and drink. As well as people complaining about paying for someone they don't want, there's always confusion about what should be available at different times of day (Virgin EC and WC), what is available at all (FGW) , and how much of anything you should be allowed to have.

    It's a far cry from the old days, when high quality, but [paid for, dining facilities were considered to be an essential part of the first class offering on key business trains. They were allowed to run at a loss in order to attract travellers who were willing to pay a higher fare to use these facilities. I prefer the old way!
     
  14. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    I personally would love more restaurant cars and if travelling I could make use of them. For example the travelling chef on First Great Western encouraged me to buy something because it was made on board. Had it been bought in I'd have not bothered until I reached my destination.

    Southern's offering is definitely only about people guaranteeing a seat as they don't seem to have any power sockets in first class carriages. London Midland did the last time I travelled with them in first clsss. South West Trains, not a Govia company do and I don't know about South Eastern.

    In fact South West Trains even have plug sockets in standard class on their 444s!

    Still can't believe someone agreed to allow plug sockets to be installed in a standard class carriage. Just a shame it didn't extend to the 450s but can't have everything.
     
  15. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    The plug sockets are only on the driving carriages, one is 1st class and the other is standard class, the intermediate carriages don't have plug sockets.
     
  16. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    As do I. First Class fares at 1.5-1.6 of all equivalent Standard walk-up fares, and 20 quid or so for a reasonable meal in the restaurant car, and I'll be sold on any longer journey.
     
  17. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Such luxuries may be factors in making rail travel more attractive for those who also have access to a car. Although difficult to measure, I'm sure they may well attract passengers to Standard Class who wouldn't pay for First anyway.
     
  18. Aldaniti

    Aldaniti Member

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    In railway terms, complimentary means that you pay for something, usually of limited choice, and are told - and then accept - that it is free. When it all goes wrong or standards fall (which invariably they do with anything complimentary), because you have been given the perception that its free, you're less likely to complain. Many fall for it every day. I would prefer to pay for a first class ticket and get nothing other than a more comfortable seat in a quiet carriage and perhaps a cup of tea and a biscuit, primarily because I still have the ability to walk into a shop and select my items of food of choice. If I wanted something more substantial I would choose something rather better than that provided by TOC's in their 'complimentary' offers.
     
  19. westv

    westv Established Member

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    So if, say, EC decided to end complimentary food we could all expect their 1st class fares to reduce in price?
     
  20. causton

    causton Established Member

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    No, they would increase as far fewer people would travel in first class, so they would have to make more money with less customers!
     
  21. Haywain

    Haywain Established Member

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    It is complimentary, which means you have a choice. You seem to be suggesting that it is compulsory.
     
  22. AngusH

    AngusH Member

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    I have the feeling that it is an alternative to the word "free", which possibly cannot be used if part of the fare is spent by the operator providing the food.

    It can't be free if it's included in the fare paid, because you have paid something. But you don't pay an extra charge, hence complimentary.


    Found the link, I knew I'd seen this somewhere.

    https://www.cap.org.uk/Advice-Train...abase/Sales-Promotions-Free.aspx#.VXd5sGDe50s

    This is actually related to advertising, but I guess the rule is generally applied.


    edit: possibly this point has already been made, sorry :(
     
    Last edited: 10 Jun 2015
  23. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    I can see that but that then begs the question why they were not installed in the 450s to tempt passengers away from cars.

    As mostly a standard class passenger I prefer the Southern mainline units, numbers I don't know, to the 450s as they have tables in standard class. However if I were regularly a first class passenger, I'd prefer the 450 as they have plug sockets in first class and Southern don't.

    Perhaps someone could build a train that combines both.

    They did. It's a 444. Unfortunately it's not so suitable for the larger numbers travelling now.
     
    Last edited: 10 Jun 2015
  24. Greenback

    Greenback Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    In theory they should, but in practice they won't!

    It's the same as complimentary toiletries, pens etc in hotels. They probably don't cost the company much to provide, and this expense is seen as part of the overall business plan, but if the property was losing money, then a change to a cheaper product or the withdrawal of it altogether, is one way to try and restore that profitability.

    The downside to that is that regular customers might be so irritated by what they see as penny pinching, that they choose to stay elsewhere.

    EC, or any other TOC, would only take such a decision if they thought that their bottom line would be improved. As with a hotel, though, the withdrawal of complimentary items would probably lead to a reduction in income that would more than offset the reduction in costs.
     
  25. DownSouth

    DownSouth Established Member

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    And of course the main purpose is to be something other than 'included' so they can get away with not providing it and keeping the fare!

    Heads they win, tails you lose!
     
  26. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    Southern have power sockets in first in 171s and some subclasses of 377, your also get free tea/ coffee mineral water on routes with a trolley. Southeastern have power sockets on high speed services but no first class.
     
  27. Harlan Cage

    Harlan Cage Member

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    The illusion of getting something free when in fact you have already paid for it!:-x

    HC
     
  28. oldsiggie

    oldsiggie Member

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    I would have thought ALL fares for every Company, Air / Sea / Land that grants complimentary refreshments put it into the initial fare !

    Exception to the rule maybe when it goes wrong and there are delays, and refreshments are given out 'free'
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---


    You could never beat a British Rail breakfast or dinner !:)
     
  29. Camden

    Camden Established Member

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    This is correct, and a case of people using similar sounding words but which have completely different meanings.

    Complementary: If a company sells you something bought on the basis that they provide complementary refreshments, then you have the right to expect that this complement is provided and pursue them should they break their end of the deal (including complaining to advertising bodies about being misled, if the complement being advertised does not exist).

    Complimentary: If a company sells you something bought on the basis that they provide complimentary refreshments, then it is ambiguous as to whether you are entitled to these (technically not, if it's something "with their compliments", but then again should they be allowed to advertise this in that case? And by doing so do they in effect create an obligation?) and will have to argue it out.

    I'm not looking into which it is they do but I would be surprised if it wasn't the latter. Either way if I buy a first class ticket and I don't get my refreshments then they can expect me to cause a fuss about it both onboard and afterwards via complaint, as my little way of ensuring the value of them not providing what they said they would is as minimal to them as I can possibly make it.

    "Complementary" or "Complimentary" offers by companies are all deducted from the balance sheet, and so of course are all factored into the prices of services and resultant profit margins. Is anyone really naive enough to think they're getting something for free? Is anyone so indoctrinated they think they can tell us that we're getting something for free?
     
    Last edited: 13 Jun 2015
  30. westv

    westv Established Member

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    So complimentary food keeps fares lower but the cost of the food is accounted for in the fare price - son makes them higher?
     
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