Passenger Voice August 2016: Case study

29 July 2016

For her birthday Mrs P used Arriva Trains Wales’ (ATW) telesales helpline to book return tickets from Manchester Piccadilly to Newport for her family. She made it clear on the phone that she wanted to get the cheapest deal for these, and sought out prices for Advance tickets, but was told she could not book these for the price advertised. She later saw a promotion for a reduced price Groupsave booking, and was offered a quote with a 30 per cent discount using the Senior Railcards she and her husband had.

Mrs P could have got a cheaper deal if she had purchased the Advance tickets. The Groupsave tickets were advertised as a reduced fare, so Mrs P expected this to be the cheapest option. Customer service staff advised that she should get the cheaper Advance tickets at her local station, and on ending the call she checked the price on the internet and went to the station half an hour later. When she got there she was told the Advances for that price had sold out.

Mrs P felt that the promotion of the cheaper Advance fares online was misleading and decided to contact ATW again. She was then quoted an even higher price for the tickets due to the number of passengers in the booking. She was then told that to obtain the cheapest possible price she would have to contact telesales and book each ticket individually. Not only was this a long process, but the price of the tickets had risen by £200 in the meantime. Mrs P complained to Transport Focus as she was dissatisfied with the conflicting advice she was given.

Our advisor agreed that the difference in prices was confusing we told Arriva that it was unfair that Mrs P had not been able to take advantage of the cheaper ticket prices despite calling them for help. Arriva explained that for large groups there are a number of ticket options available and the group bookings team could not match the online Advance prices. Whilst it sympathised with the situation Arriva said it would not be offering any money back for the booking. Our advisor continued to press Arriva for a goodwill gesture and Arriva eventually agreed to award Mrs P’s party a round of complimentary drinks. Mrs P was happy to accept this offer, and was grateful that Transport Focus had also clarified the confusion on the booking process.

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