Transport User Voice – March 2018 – Case Study

22 February 2018

Mr H booked tickets to travel with Virgin Trains using his Traveller’s Membership Club Card membership which entitles him to free First Class travel at weekends.

On the day of travel, Mr H forgot his membership card and the train manager said he must buy new tickets. The passenger stated that the train manager explained that he could apply for a refund of the new tickets, as long as he could demonstrate he had a valid membership card.

Mr H applied for a refund on the tickets, providing proof of his membership card. However this was declined with Virgin Trains stating that it is the passenger’s responsibility to carry their card when travelling. Mr H was really unhappy with this as he felt he was assured by the train manager that he would receive a refund. He contacted Transport Focus to see if we could help him.

We approached Virgin Trains on Mr H’s behalf. Mr H had been able to clearly demonstrate that he had a valid Traveller’s Membership Club Card but due to leaving this at home by mistake had to pay another £203.20 for the journey, which otherwise would have been free.

Following the investigation, Virgin Trains were unable to confirm either version of events. However, it was acknowledged that the advice given to the passenger could have been based on Virgin Trains’ forgotten Railcard policy which has not been extended to Traveller Membership Club Cards. The forgotten Railcard policy allows passengers to claim a refund on any additional cost incurred for a new ticket if they can prove after the journey that they are a Railcard holder.

Given the confusion regarding the Railcard policy and the fact that neither version of events can be confirmed, we escalated this higher within Virgin Trains and it agreed to refund the full ticket cost of £203.20. Mr H was very happy with the outcome although we felt that Virgin Trains should have fully investigated this when first contacted by Mr H, and also been clearer with staff on its policies.

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