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 about train journeys (or the lack of them!) all you need to know for rail related issues

 

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!

Airline compensation rates and claim letter template

How to get compensation when you are delayed or bumped from a flight

Make sure you get the compensation you are due from airlines

It would appear that many airlines like to make it difficult for passengers to claim for compensation and redress for delayed or cancelled flights. Then there are the companies which say they can do the work for you but take a hefty commission.

Well, here’s something from me, for free, which should help to get you your due compensation (See the rest of the post for details of what you need to fill in and other related information). 🙂

Template letter for claiming compensation from an airline

(If flight was cancelled replace the “delay” details with cancellation details below).

Dear xxx

Re : Compensation claim for delayed flight booking reference number

I am writing regarding flight flight number on date from departure airport to arrival airport. The scheduled departure time was departure time. However, the flight arrived number hours late at arrival airport.

Under EC Regulation 261/2004 I am claiming compensation for this delayed flight. The passengers in the party were:

full names of everyone on your booking.

My scheduled flight length was number of kilometres, therefore I am seeking (select from €250 / €300 / €400 / €600) per delayed passenger in my party. The total is total compensation sum for all passengers for all passengers.

(If appropriate include the following text) During the delay the passengers in my party were not provided with any refreshments and/or hotel accommodation. Please find attached copies of receipts for the cost of purchasing our own. Please refund in full: bullet point everything you paid for and the costs.

If claiming for both delay and other then add the following:

Please provide me with the total compensation of:

£xxx for EU flight delay (based exchange rate £1.00 = €1.13 on 12 June 2017) and £xxx  for out-of-pocket expenses incurred.

Total £xxx

I look forward to a full response to this letter within seven days. If I do not  receive a satisfactory response I will not hesitate in taking the matter further which will include, but not be limited to, informing the regulator and if necessary starting proceedings through the Small Claims Court.

Yours sincerely/faithfully

 (“Sincerely when you know the person’s name and “faithfully” when using Sir or Madam)

EU Compensation rights rates for delayed flights

Compensation for delays is only due on flights in the EU or when using an EU airline arriving two hours or more late. How much you are entitled to depends on how long the delay and how long the flight. It changes again if the flight is cancelled before/after seven days before you are due to depart. It does not reflect the price of the flight and is straight out compensation.

The tables for amounts to which you would be entitled per flight are below:

Denied boarding or “bumped” from a flight compensation rates of payout

Airlines will often ask for “volunteers” to not take the flight in return for compensation and this amount would be agreed with the airline at the time. If you are forced off due to overbooking it is the same compensation as if the flight were cancelled.

Flight cancelled 7-14 days before departure compensation rates

Rates are different for notice given and for when you arrive (even if the flight to which you have been changed is longer but gets you there earlier).


Flight cancelled less than 7 days before departure compensation

Exchange rates correct at July 2017.

Rescheduled flights and your rights

Passengers given less than 14 days’ notice of a replacement flight may be due compensation depending on the timings of the new flight.

Other redress for flight delays and cancellations

Flight cancelled or delayed for several hours – the airline must look after passengers. It must provide food, drinks, and some communications. If passengers are delayed overnight, this also means providing them with a hotel and travel to and from it. (All these must still be provided even if the delay was out of the airline’s control). Keep claims reasonable.

And make sure you avoid calling any 084, 087 or 09 numbers. These are banned for customer services such as this.

Affected by BA debacle May Bank Holiday?

See  BA powercut debacle: Airline keeps passengers in the dark about their rights for more information and details of other things that you may be able to claim for such as phoning their helplines!

Luggage problems

See Quick guide to lost luggage – your rights

Holidays and flights your rights

See What to do when your flight is delayed – the full guide

and  All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights for more

 

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

 

For more templates, advice, information on holidays and most other sectors Get the Book! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! 

Covering airline delays in the news

BBC Breakfast 5th August 2015 flight delays

Look East interviews Ryanair CCO and Helen Dewdney

BA delays: Airline changes advice over claims for expenses