Passenger watchdog urges new East Coast operator not to slash benefits

04 March 2015

As the new East Coast service swings into action, the independent watchdog urges the new operator not to slash passenger benefits.

On Sunday, Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) will start running and big improvements will be delivered for passengers over the course of the franchise. But passengers who were members of the East Coast Rewards scheme were told that it would be switched to Nectar points – greatly reducing the benefit on offer. They also have just six months to use up existing Rewards points.

Passenger Focus has called on VTEC to reconsider its decision.

David Sidebottom, passenger director at Passenger Focus, said:
“Passengers tell us that train companies should do more to demonstrate that they value them. The Rewards scheme did that, so taking it away doesn’t send the right signals and could put the new operator in a bad light with passengers from the start.

“When passengers signed up to the scheme they were told their points would be valid for two years. Even though we assume this change is legally fine, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth of loyal passengers and doesn’t feel much like the train company is on their side.”

The watchdog has written to VTEC, setting out the case for a rethink over Rewards. At the very least it says existing Rewards points should be honoured as promised – for two years.


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