How to complain about train journeys (or the lack of them!)

If your train is cancelled

If your train is cancelled you are due a full refund of the ticket price paid. If you still wish to travel you should be able to get on the next train then claim as for a delayed journey (see below). If you have a date and time restricted ticket you may not be able to get on a later train. You should check with the station staff before travelling who will be able to advise. If you don’t travel due to the cancellation you are entitled to a full refund of the ticket price paid.

If your train is delayed

If you don’t want to travel because of the delay then you should be able to get a full refund of the ticket price paid. It is the time of arrival not the time of departure that is considered. Under the National Rail Conditions of Travel you are entitled to 50% refund for a delay of over 60 minutes. However, most companies now operate a “Delay Repay” scheme, providing compensation for these delays regardless of cause. For most of the companies operating this scheme you will get at least 50% refund  current threshold is a delay of 30+ minutes, but a threshold of 15 minutes is being introduced between now and 2020 and at the point of going to print 9 companies have signed up to this.

Train track

If you don’t travel out of choice

If you choose not to take the train journey for which you booked you should be refunded. It could be, for example, that an event to which you were travelling was cancelled so you didn’t want to travel. Or any reason! So long as it wasn’t an advance ticket you should be able to get a refund minus an administration fee. The maximum administration fee that the companies can charge is £10.

Season tickets and your rights

Different train companies operate different policies. You will need to check with the relevant company. You will need to submit a claim for each journey rather than a discount at renewal. The amount paid will depend on the specific company’s Passenger Charter.

Consequential loss from a delayed or cancelled train

The National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCT) state that companies are not liable for consequential losses. For example, If you couldn’t make use of a hotel stay or theatre tickets. However, they do state that companies will consider exceptional cases. Since October 1st 2016 the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) now applies to travel, including trains. Under this act you are entitled to services to be carried out with reasonable skill and care. It would certainly be worth trying to claim using both the CRA and the exceptional circumstances of the NRCT.

On 10 March 2016 the National Rail Conditions of Travel finally removed the warning that operators will not accept liability for a “consequential loss” after delays or cancellations.

In September 2013, The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that rail passengers are entitled to a partial refund of the price of their train ticket even in poor weather circumstances.

Snowing on train

How to claim compensation from train delays and cancellations

If you don’t use your ticket to make all or part of your journey, take the unused ticket to any train company’s ticket office and receive an immediate refund.

For most train companies you can also apply online via the company’s website.

Alternatively you can send the claim to the train company by postal mail. Before you do, take a photo of the tickets just in case they get “lost in the post”!

Make sure you claim within 28 days of the date of travel.

Find your company on the National Rail Enquiries page which will take you to the relevant page.

Missed connection consequences

If you have missed a connecting train due to the cancellation or delay, you can claim a refund for the unused part of the journey should you not go on a later train or have to use an alternative form of transport. You could consider claiming for consequential losses, as above.

Train emergency timetables

Some train companies run what they describe as an “emergency timetable”. In these instances it is possible that this may affect what you can claim. If you bought your ticket before the new timetable was put in place and decide not to travel then you can claim a full refund, as above. However, should you travel and be delayed then the level of compensation will be based on the timings of trains according to the new timetable.

Not satisfied with response from the rail company?

If you think that the response from a train company is unsatisfactory, read the NRCT and the train company’s Passenger Charter which will have the details of the procedure you should follow. If you are still not happy and your journey was outside of London contact Transport Focus. For London (including under and overground) contact London Travel Watch. If after this you are still not happy you can take the matter to the CEO of Transport Focus or of London Travel Watch.

The Rail Ombudsman

The Rail Ombudsman was launched 26 November 2018. It is funded by the train companies which have all signed up to the service and are obliged to abide by the decisions it makes. You must have reached the end of the provider’s complaints procedure before taking the matter to the Rail Ombudsman.

The Rail Ombudsman can accept claims from England, Scotland and Wales.

Although rail companies are bound by the decision of the Rail Ombudsman, you are not. So, if you are not happy with the outcome and believe you have enough evidence to support a claim, you can go to the Small Claims Court.

Train track black and white how to complain about trains cancellations, delays and consequential loss

Spa customer service treatment with a smile – even when things go wrong…

Companies always make mistakes. After all, they’re made up of humans and to err is human. What is important to me, as a consumer champion, is how companies deal with the mistakes and get them resolved.

A couple of years ago I took out a course of pro-active facial treatments with Clarins. The deal was 6 sessions for the price of 4, at the Debenhams store at Lakeside, Thurrock. I don’t go to Lakeside very often so was taking a very long time to use up the sessions! But you should know that this does not matter as if you have any issues up to 6 years after purchase consumer law is still on your side.

So what happened?

Well, when I went for the second one there was no head massage whilst the mask was applied. I was told that this was no longer part of the treatment.

various Clarins treatments

When I paid for the 6 facials I was told that this was included. You may find this very trivial but those facials aren’t cheap and I know what I paid for!

So, I wrote to customer services. I told them that to remove it mid-program is against consumer law. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 to be specific. I told them I felt that I had been misled into making a transaction I wouldn’t otherwise have made if I had had all the information, i.e. that part of the service would be removed without refund. In addition it is against the Consumer Rights Act 2015 as an unfair contract, as they had changed the terms and conditions without my consent.

Therefore, I expected a partial refund for the last facial and partial refunds for the remaining sessions. However, my preference was to be given what I paid for, which was the head massage whilst the mask is applied for my remaining facials. As regards the last facial, which did not include the head massage for which I had paid, I expected a partial refund.

small Clarins tubes

I made the point that I had no issue with any of the therapists. It was quite clear it was a change in policy not in quality.

The complaint was passed to the Area Manager. She told me that they had not had any similar complaints. Hmmmm.

She could see from their records that I purchased My course in May 2015 and had a Tri- Active Facial on 14th December 2016 – whereby the therapists had assured her that she explained the new procedure to me. I then had another Tri-Active Facial on 11th December 2017. (As I said, I didn’t go to Lakeside very often). They fed my comments back to the Spa regarding my disappointment with the new treatment, and also to the London Training team who apparently welcome all customer feedback as they were apparently “disappointed” that I felt I had been misled.

So that was that. Of course it flipping wasn’t!

In fact, the Consumer Rights Act didn’t apply because I had actually bought and paid for the course of treatment before the act came into force on 1st October 2015. But other consumer laws including the CPUTRs did apply. So, off I went again.

It was also unfortunate that someone at Clarins appeared not to have read my email properly either.

I agreed that the therapist explained the new procedure after I asked why the head massage was not applied. I said so in my email. But as I had clearly stated, the head massage had been removed from the program AFTER I had paid for it. Therefore a breach of contract had taken place. Had I known that the massage was not going to be included (where it once was) I may have made a different decision. This was a breach of The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. I pointed out that I provided this information, to which she had not referred in her reply.

I reiterated what I expected as redress. Then, of course, added my standard ending: “Should I not be fully satisfied with your response I will not hesitate in taking the matter further. This will include, but not be limited to, informing my credit card company, Trading Standards and going through the Small Claims Court. I will also share my experience on social media and relevant review forums.”

The Area Manager for Lakeside confirmed that I had spent £268 on my course in 2015. Since then, I had had 2 x Tri-Active Facials which would equate to £140, leaving £128 on the course value – without the two free treatments as it was purchased on the 6 for 4 promotional offer.

She wanted me to note that the store policy on refunds is for customers to provide a proof of purchase and valid receipts. However, the Skin Spa Manager said that he/she would be happy to offer me the following:

  • 2 x Scalp and Foot Massages for the previous two treatments which you I had in 2017 and 2016.
  • 4 x Scalp and Foot Massages to be included in the remaining treatments that you I had booked.

Yay, so that was good, and that was the end of the matter… or so they thought…

Of course it wasn’t. Because, dear reader, as much as I like to spread the word about consumer rights to consumers I like to inform thVarious Clarins beauty products on black work yopose working in customer services too.

I informed her that one does NOT need a receipt. One only needs proof of purchase. They clearly had this from their treatment records.

 

So, in the end I got a little more than I was legally entitled to (2 scalp and foot massages!) but that is how it should be, particularly when it took a few emails to resolve.

So, in summary, never just accept changes in services! But it did all come out well in the wash as it were!

See Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively to be able to do the same.

Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

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