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Do not use them .. they will rip you off

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?

30 August 2013

Reply from thetrainline.com

Hi Jinx,

I'm extremely disappointed to hear that you believe to have been ripped off - I assure you this is not the case.

There seems to have been a lack of information provided regarding this matter, which I'm keen to clear up.

Getting straight to the point, I must be clear that the £10 deduction is not unique to us at thetrainline.com - it's standard right across the rail industry. Whether you purchased your tickets from us, at the station or any one of the operating companies the fees would be the same.

In this particular instance the tickets were actually non-refundable however, we offer the ability to change the date and time and by doing so we allow a refund value to be provided - as you're aware. It's no secret and never has been that we (as well as others) charge a £10 fee per ticket/ per person. It’s not only covered in our Terms and Conditions but in the National Rail Conditions of Carriage.

I want to point out at this stage that when booking the original tickets all the information regarding what can and can’t be done is provided and available to view at a number of stages during the booking process. The specific information I’m referring to which is relevant to this is the following:

Amending Your Booking:
Yes - date/time of tickets can be changed up until time of departure (except if you have chosen to print your own e-ticket(s) or have chosen for your ticket(s) to be delivered to your mobile phone) subject to the payment of a GBP 10.00 fee per ticket per person and any difference in fares. It is not possible to purchase a cheaper fare than the original, nor to change the origin or destination.

I trust I've now provided the further information that was absent.

Kindest regards,


Jinx Bover´s profile

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Jinx Bover
United Kingdom