Taken for a ride. Passenger complaints are up (& how you can get redress)

Picture of a train 2/3 rail commuters unhappy

Transport Focus announced today that their latest National Rail Passenger Survey showed that only a third were happy with their last journey.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said:

“For passengers, it’s all about performance – these value for money scores reflect patchy reliability. In London and the South East, Southern, Thameslink and Southeastern passengers have felt performance pick up. However, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and Arriva Trains Wales passengers, among others, have been buffeted by poorer performance.”

The survey, which included more than 27,000 passengers, showed that satisfaction has dropped to 75% overall and to 64% for South Western Railway. These results contrast starkly with Thameslink, where satisfaction is up 13%, one assumes due to the increase in investment by the company.

“Train companies and Network Rail need to keep to their basic promises and deliver a relentless focus on day-to-day performance and better information during disruption”, said Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus.

Penny Thompson, blogger at Pennyssavings.com  agrees. “Despite really mucking it up when things go wrong, the new 12-car Thameslink trains really have been an improvement. Yes, services are still busy, but those extra carriages have made a difference, as have the in-train information systems which show you live data on the passenger loading across the carriages.”Train trackI’m not surprised by the results. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that investment in the railways will improve the service! Although many people moan about rail services, they don’t complain to the companies and get the redress to which they are entitled. If more people did this then at least they would get some recompense and send a strong message out to these companies.

Network Rail compensates train operators for delays due to track problems which are their fault. But the companies do not hand over this compensation to the customers who were inconvenienced. So, what do we need to make sure we get redress in the easiest way possible?

Here are your rights and tips for getting redress:

1.The Consumer Rights Act 2015 covers rail travel, so you can complain about more than just delays! If that journey was provided with poor service and therefore without “reasonable skill and care”, according to the law, write and complain!

2.Passengers are entitled to have their compensation paid within 14 days, issued by the same method the passenger used to pay for the ticket.

3.Keep your tickets as evidence and take a copy if you have to post them.

4.Make a note of your journey: Date, time, where travelling from/to and how long you’ve been delayed at the time, before you forget!

5.Make a note of the reason given by the train company for the delay.

6.Check how long you have to claim, it is usually up to 28 days.

7.Passengers can claim for any length of delay. If you suffer repeated delays of less than half an hour or overcrowding due to an unexpected lack of carriages, you might get money back if you take your case to court. Currently, no compensation is offered for delays less than 30 minutes.

8.Where a service has not been provided with “reasonable skill and care”, passengers will now have a right to a refund of up to the full ticket price.

9.Put your complaint (unless web based delay/cancellation refund) in writing so that you have a record.

10.You don’t need a third party company to claim for you, just like claiming for delayed airline flights. Instead, do it yourself and get 100% of the refund.

11.If the issue was within the company’s control, be objective, succinct and clear in outlining the issue that occurred.

12.Make it clear what you want to happen as an outcome and what you will do if you are not satisfied with the response (e.g. take it further through Transport Focus or if inside London, London Travel Watch or the Small Claims Court.

13.If you are still not satisfied with the response, write to the CEO of the train operator using contact details from the Ceoemail.com The matter will then be escalated and taken seriously.

14.It may also be possible to claim from your credit card company under Section  75 if the cost of the ticket was more than £100.

Transport Focus press release in full

Key results of the survey:

• overall 81 per cent of passengers nationally were satisfied with their journey (73 per cent for commuters)
• satisfaction with punctuality is up to 74 per cent – this figure drops to 65 per cent for commuters
• value for money ratings continue below the half-way mark, at 47 per cent (down to 33 per cent for commuters)
• satisfaction with how well delays are handled is at 38 per cent overall (30 per cent for commuters)
• in Scotland 85 per cent of passengers were satisfied with their journey
• highest-scoring operators were Grand Central (96 per cent), Hull Trains (95 per cent), Virgin Trains East Coast (92 per cent), Virgin Trains West Coast and Heathrow Express, both with 91 per cent satisfaction
• lowest-scored were Southern (72 per cent), TfL Rail (75 per cent), South Western Railway (75 per cent), Great Northern (77 per cent), Arriva, Trains Wales and Great Western Railway, both with 79 per cent
• TransPennine Express passengers were the least satisfied with the level of crowding on their train, at 58 per cent.

Rail delay compensation – Light at the end of the tunnel?

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

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Are you on the right track with your Christmas train travel plans?

Problems on the trains this Christmas and your rights

Is your train running this Christmas or have you been duped?

It looks like thousands of Christmas holiday train travellers have been misled into buying more expensive tickets than they would have done normally.

Transport Focus discovered around 15,000 errors in the Rail Delivery Group timetable database. In just one week in December it found 2,648 invalid journeys listed on the database. This is likely to result in Christmas travellers not being able to make the journeys planned. Tickets have been incorrectly sold for services which will not run due to engineering works.

Virgin train not providing tickets early enough

It also found that in the 12 weeks before Christmas – when regulations say timetables and advance tickets should be released –  that six major rail firms (Virgin, London Midland, South Western, Great Western, Greater Anglia and Southern) had not offered a full range of advance purchase fares. Passengers were therefore forced to buy more expensive tickets. Sky News reported, for example, that only 15% of services were open for reservation on Greater Anglia, and 25% on Virgin Trains. It also reported that Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has ordered an immediate investigation and said:

“It would be totally unacceptable if any passenger has to pay walk-up fares this Christmas because advance tickets were not available. I expect passengers to be offered the highest standards of customer service and have ordered an immediate investigation into this report. We are delivering the biggest investment in our railways since the Victorian era, and at times those works will cause disruption. I have set out clear plans to bring the operation of track and train closer together that will improve future reliability for passengers.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog, Transport Focus, said:

“Failure to release timetables 12 weeks ahead of travel can mean passengers buy tickets for trains that will not run. That can’t be right. Train operators’ advice is to book early at Christmas to get the best deal, but if the timetable has not been finalised only more expensive ‘on the day’ tickets can be bought. Being forced to change plans because the railway hasn’t got this right will only result in more frustration from passengers. The rail industry must act urgently to make sure the timetable is accurate 12 weeks ahead if passengers are to trust they are on their side.”

Rail firms are passing the blame on to Network Rail for failing to finalise their schedule of engineering work. Twaddle! And no doubt if this is true then rail companies will be claiming from Network Rail far more than they will be paying out to compensate customers. Transport Focus said that the failings could lead to a loss of faith in train companies. I say “EVEN more loss of faith!”

Check with your train operator if the train you have booked is running from National Rail Enquiries.

What do you need to know if you want to complain?
1) From 1 October 2016 rail is covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which gives you more rights few know about. If you have been misled into making a decision that you would otherwise not have made then the company is in breach of this law, for starters!

2) Passengers are entitled to have their compensation paid within 14 days, issued by the same method the passenger used to pay for the ticket.

3) Keep your tickets as evidence and take a copy if you have to post them.

4) Make a note of your journey including: Date, time, where travelling from/to and how long you’ve been delayed at the time, before you forget!

5) Make a note of the reason given over the tannoy or on displays, for the delay.  Take a photo of any excuses shown on displays.

6) Check how long you have to claim, it is usually up to 28 days.

7) Passengers can claim for any length of delay. If you suffer repeated delays of less than half an hour or overcrowding due to an unexpected lack of carriages, you might get money back if you take your case to court.

8) Currently, no compensation is offered.

9) Where a service has not been provided with reasonable skill and care, passengers will now have a right to a refund of up to the full ticket price.

10) Put your complaint in writing so that you have a record. Keep a screen capture or print out of a web-based refund claim.

11) You don’t need a third party company to claim for you, just like claiming for delayed airline flights. Instead, do it yourself and get 100% of the refund.

12) If the issue was within the company’s control, be objective, succinct and clear in outlining the issue that occurred.

13) Make it clear what you want to happen and what you will do if you are not satisfied with the response (e.g. take it further through Transport Focus  or if inside London, London Travel Watch  or Small Claims Court.

14) If you are not satisfied with the response, write to the CEO using contact details from the CEOemail.com website. The matter will then be escalated and taken seriously.

15) It may also be possible to claim from your credit card company under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act for non-delivery of services.

Top 20 Tips How to Complain!

Email addresses for CEOs of UK railway companies with links to Delay Repay where applicable.

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

For more on your consumer rights, advice, information, tips and template letters get the book!

 

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!