A voucher is not compensation!

18 May 2015

We have lobbied for some time for rail compensation to be paid in cash and not vouchers – with some success.

An acquaintance’s recent story underlines how annoying this can be. Having been delayed on Virgin Trains my contact was swiftly refunded her full £105 in three £35 vouchers. These vouchers cannot be used online, despite fact each voucher having its own reference number and station staff cannot access the best online-only deals. Contact centre staff can access online deals for the vouchers, but only at least 14 days in advance as the vouchers need to be sent to them before the tickets can be sent. The upshot was that my contacts’ new journey involved either paying out more, or losing a lot of value from one of the vouchers. Total annoyance!

This is real defeat snatched from jaws of victory. Swift response, no argument, but not paid in real money. A Stone Age process – despite having all passenger contact and bank details, as she paid by card! Come on railways, you can do better than this. Delay repay works for commuters, so surely a long-distance operator with bigger sums at stake could do better than this?

Transport Focus has been pushing for some time for a revision of the Conditions of Carriage to allow passengers to claim cash instead of vouchers. Now the election is out of the way we are hopeful there will soon be an announcement.

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