Transport User Voice – Case study

28 March 2017

Mr C was very unwell and had spent over a week in hospital. The day he was due to return home from hospital, Mr C discovered that sadly his father had passed away. As his next of kin Mr C needed to travel from Cheshire to Scotland to arrange his father’s affairs. As he was unable to drive at the time, Mr C booked a first class return ticket using Virgin Trains’ website.

On the evening before his return journey, Mr C realised that he had left the train ticket in the pocket of his trousers which had just been dry cleaned, resulting in damage to the ticket. Mr C immediately called Virgin Trains customer services to explain what had happened and asked if there was anything he could do about the damaged ticket. He was bluntly told there was nothing they could do and he had to purchase a new ticket. Mr C was extremely upset and was left him out of pocket as he had to pay an additional £97.

Mr C tried to claim a refund as he thought it unfair he was made to pay a large amount of money for another ticket despite having purchased one for the journey. His claim was declined and so Mr C came to Transport Focus.

We contacted Virgin Trains on Mr C’s behalf who declined a refund again. Virgin said they would need to see the original damaged ticket before a replacement or refund could be issued. We thought this was unfair as Mr C was not advised he could do this when he called customer services. At the time, he was told there was nothing he could do so did not keep the damaged ticket. Virgin Trains apologised and said the case could have been dealt with in a more sensitive manner and feedback would be passed back to the relevant teams. They did offer him a small gift but we felt this was not adequate compensation as it was due to a fault on Virgin Trains’ part that Mr C was unable to retain a refund.

We asked Virgin Trains to reconsider its offer and this was escalated to a more senior staff member. Eventually Virgin agreed that the advice given to Mr C was lacking in detail, and offered him a refund of £97 in Rail Travel Vouchers. We asked if this could be made in the form of a cheque but Virgin declined. Virgin did however offer to send both the vouchers and a small gift to Mr C.

Although we are happy with this outcome we think Virgin could have handled the case better initially, preventing the need for an appeal and a lot of going back and forth. This would have led to increased customer satisfaction and a much faster resolution.

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