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To think this deserves a complaint to National Rail?

(21 Posts)
Thistledew Fri 21-Feb-14 18:16:41

Or the management at my local station?

I am travelling to Bradford from London and back on Monday for work. I bought Advance saver tickets about 10 days ago, but today my appointment had to be changed from the morning to the afternoon, so I needed to change the times of my tickets.

Fortunately, before I went to my local station to get the tickets changed, I looked up the policy regarding amendments to Advance tickets on line. It said that provided there were still spaces on the trains to which I wanted to transfer, it is possible to change the time of Advance tickets, for an administration fee of £10.

I got to the ticket office at my local station and explained that I needed to change the tickets. The man behind the counter told me it was not possible. I said it was, and that I had looked it up. He said it was not possible to change, as they were cheap tickets sold in advance. I insisted that the statement of terms on line said it was possible, and quoted to him what I had read.

He then agreed to look up the new train times I wanted. I don't know what he was putting in his computer, but he then told me that there were no possible trains to get me to Bradford at the time I wanted. He said that it was only the train I was booked on (to arrive at 0930) or one arriving at 1355, which was about an hour later than I now need to be there. I expressed my incredulity that there were no trains in between those times, and he turned his computer screen around to 'show' me - although I couldn't make out what the various schedules were actually saying. I said something along the lines of "there must be other trains, let me check", and got out my phone to use my National Rail app. He then had a go at me and said he was not going to serve me whilst I was on my phone.

I kind of ignored him and kept querying why he was saying there were no other trains, by which time I had pulled up the times on my phone, and found one that was perfectly times. Lo and behold, when he put that time into his computer, it confirmed that there was in fact another train.

He seemed to back down then, and made a phone call to someone who clearly talked him through the process of changing the tickets. Eventually it was all sorted, and I got the new tickets that I need.

As I was putting the tickets away, I said, in what I thought was a light tone ok, only slightly pointedly "At least you know for next time that you can change advance tickets". He said "It's not a matter of knowing for next time. They make changes all the time". At which point I just rolled my eyes and walked off.

So, is it worth making a complaint? If I had not been so sure about the policy or about the fact that there were more than about 3 trains a day from London to Bradford, I would probably have ended up being stung for an expensive set of tickets, in addition to the ones I no longer need.

VulvaBeaker Fri 21-Feb-14 18:18:58

Or indeed, stuck if you didn't have money.

Complain, although bear in mind the possibility they do change all the time, and it's their fault not the man's.

TheReluctantCountess Fri 21-Feb-14 18:20:37

You could make contact, if only from the angle that staff need fuller training.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Fri 21-Feb-14 18:25:28

*Advance: You can visit any booking office or call the telesales outlet that you bought your ticket from. If there are still other Advance fares available, you can change it to another Advance fare. You will be charged an admin fee of £10 per ticket.

If there are no Advance fares available, you can upgrade the ticket to the most appropriate ticket for the journey you now want to make. You will have to pay any difference in fare and an admin fee of £10 per ticket*

TBH you may have been being a bit unreasonable. Nowhere in your OP did you state that you had checked there were Advance tickets available for the specific trains you wanted - it is quite likely their actually wasn't as they do sell out fast.

I'm guessig that because he had to speak to a supervisor that he had given you new tickets without charging the difference in cost.

Thistledew Fri 21-Feb-14 18:37:14

No - the new tickets are advance tickets, so there were definitely spaces left. I thought at first that maybe he was telling me there were no advance spaces left when he was saying there were no trains, but that was not the case. I could see that tickets at the same price were showing as soon as he got the right train.

falulahthecat Fri 21-Feb-14 18:47:16

Oh my goodness we had a very similar situation - bought daysave tickets online for New Years day - the day before the lines flooded and we couldn't go, online says go and get a refund from the station, man at station patronises and shouts at me telling me online and at the station 'don't mix'. Ring up, get told to go to station(!) tell them what happened, no apology, just 'Oh, send them in with claim form'. Then get told when we don't hear anything and ring again that our claim was basically 'binned' because DaySave tickets are 'non-refundable.'.
That's £28 of our money for a soggy New Years day going back and forth to the station.

falulahthecat Fri 21-Feb-14 18:47:49

We're driving to London in March now!
We used to get the same tickets for £3 each way.

falulahthecat Fri 21-Feb-14 18:48:38

and he turned his computer screen around to 'show' me

Ours did this too - how did I know he was even showing me the right screen?!

falulahthecat Fri 21-Feb-14 18:49:38

Oh, we haven't heard back from our separate complaint letter either, they've just lost about £400 of our money this year instead!

bakeroony Fri 21-Feb-14 18:51:03

Yes, complain.

Train ticket prices are horrendous enough without having to put up with shoddy service or at worst, a blatant attempt at a rip-off.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Fri 21-Feb-14 18:55:28

No - the new tickets are advance tickets, so there were definitely spaces left. I thought at first that maybe he was telling me there were no advance spaces left when he was saying there were no trains, but that was not the case. I could see that tickets at the same price were showing as soon as he got the right train

In that case you were not BU :-)

Thistledew Fri 21-Feb-14 19:17:15

Thanks all. I have made a complaint by email. I gave up trying to find an address to contact my local station directly - that's worth another complaint in itself!

velvetspoon Fri 21-Feb-14 20:36:16

Agree you should complain.

Before Christmas I was regularly doing a journey from a mainline London station to a station near the south coast. Every weekend station staff would attempt to charge me a different amount - sometimes it was 50p/£1 different, others it was £5-10 out. There was no rhyme or reason to it, I was always going from station A to station B. And yet each time they got it wrong (albeit once I queried they would always amend it). It wasn't even an advance fare or anything, just standard one...bizarre. and made me wonder how many people who didn't check the price online like me would be routinely overcharged.

LaGuardia Fri 21-Feb-14 20:46:01

People who work in ticket offices deserve a medal every single day they turn up for work.

drivingmisspotty Fri 21-Feb-14 20:53:08

They don't 'keep changing it'. I remember changing an advance ticket for a £10 admin fee about 12 years ago.

TheSkiingGardener Fri 21-Feb-14 22:22:22

It's cheaper for 2 people to drive from Southampton to London and park in Park Lane for the day than to take the train. Fares are ludicrous so maybe they should invest in some staff training.

YWNBU and I hope you get an apology.

BinkieWoo Fri 21-Feb-14 22:34:19

I used to work for the railway selling tickets over the phone and advance tickets always used to have a booking deadline of 6pm the evening before, the reason being that a seat reservation had to be made alongside the ticket itself in order to get the customer to "commit" to a specific time and therefore qualify for the lowest price. The reservation system used to close for the following day at 6pm so no advance tickets for that day could be bought after that time.

Assuming this is still the same (which I'm not sure about at all, it's 6-7 yrs since I worked there) then the man in the office was right to say that there were no advance tickets left on the trains that afternoon as the advance ticket cannot be bought/booked on the day of travel due to the fact that it would've been impossible to reserve you a seat.

So...things have either changed massively (and the ticket man was still thinking along the lines I used to have to go by and was wrong to deny you initially) or he was correct and had to override the system to stop it charging you the rate you would have paid if you'd bought the ticket today. I don't know which one is correct but hopefully now at least you understand why the man thought like that (and how many crazy terms and conditions ticket sellers have to be aware of!)

BinkieWoo Fri 21-Feb-14 22:41:54

Just looked up new rules (I'm sad, I know!) and yes you were totally right - but only as long as you changed it before your original booked train was due to depart this morning. The reservation system has obviously changed as doesn't have a deadline any more as the tickets are literally just first come, first served with the advance fares. If you tried to change it after your original train was due to leave then you'd have had to buy a new ticket and start again.

If I can learn that in less than 5 minutes then someone doing the job every day should be able to do so too! smile

BinkieWoo Fri 21-Feb-14 22:44:52

Aaargh, just saw that you're going on Monday - yes you were 100% right then!

One day I'll learn how to read...!

whatsthatcomingoverthehill Fri 21-Feb-14 22:45:55

By the way, if you were at one of the Bradford stations then it is northern rail who are responsible.

nannynewo Fri 21-Feb-14 22:47:48

It is worth complaining, definitely. I know several people who have complained to train companies for various reasons and all have been successful and receive rail vouchers. They are usually very good like that.

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