Yesterday I ordered two advanced single tickets for travel between Reading and Gloucester (a trip down to my father's home to take him fishing for a few days) using this supposedly reputable company's website. Having confirmed the order, I spotted that I had inadvertently entered the wrong dates for travel. I checked the site and was reassured to see that changing the dates was no problem. I had paid £31 for the tickets there and back, using my debit card, supposedly saving £5. Joy!
However when I followed the route on the site, to change the ticket dates, I was informed that in order to complete the change, I would need to buy a second set of tickets for the right dates and then a refund on the original tickets would be authorised. Reluctantly I spent another £31 and purchased the new tickets. I was then informed on the site, that my refund had indeed been authorised and £11 was being re-credited to my account.
Er...£11? .. what happened to the other £20 you owe me?
The other £20 had been claimed by this greedy bunch as a £10 'admin' fee for each ticket.
I eventually found an email contact address and composed a message explaining that my previous experience with their service, had been both fast and reliable and I had used it regularly. However having inadvertently entered the wrong dates, I felt it was a little steep to charge me an admin fee of £20 on a £31 transaction.. I gave the email subject as 'Valued customer?'
To my limited knowledge I think a debit card transaction costs around £1.30 so an admin fee of £3 I felt would be more appropriate (and I seem to recall a possible change in law to enforce this?)
The reply I received from Trainline.com was polite but somewhat patronising and informed me that I had indeed purchased new tickets, that there was an admin fee of £10 per person, per ticket for each of the 'old' tickets and that my refund of £11 had been credited to my account. Completely ignoring my point.
I persisted and sent a second mail, explaining that as an automated system, the maximum realistic charge for the change/refund should be around £3.50 and that as a regular, loyal customer I felt ripped-off . Whist I realised that being 'big business' they probably wouldn't care, I felt it worth the time to let them know how disappointed I was with their callous, avaricious attitude. I also informed them that if the charge stood, I would never use them again and would spread my experience as far as I could.
Their reply stated that they regret the 'inconvenience' this may have caused me. They confirmed that a £10 admin fee per ticket is listed in their terms and conditions, that the fee is system generated and automatically charged and they therefore cannot refund it. They explained how I could view the terms and conditions attached to my orders and they finished by expressing the hope that the above information was helpful to me ..
So I am now left having been forced to buy 2 new tickets that I would never have purchased, had I known that they were going to rip me off in this fashion and a very sour taste in the mouth.
The obvious question that arises from this is, if the £10 admin fee is system generated and automatically charged and they can't affect/cancel it .. who is doing the admin and if it's nobody, why are they charging for it? Or is this just another example of big-business scumbag ethics?
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