Thursday, 10 July 2008

London Underground's generous ticket refund Charter

The information screens London tube travellers dread seeing:
Severe Delays or worse Suspended

Like many Londoners I try and avoid going underground in the Summer. The Victorian built 'tube' has no air conditioning and won't be getting it anytime soon. Most Londoners' worst nightmare is being stuck on a train when the service on one of the ageing lines is suspended. Every Summer at least one 'Trapped Underground for 3 hours' story makes the headlines. No wonder London Underground advises passengers to carry bottled water.

Last week my travel plans were disrupted when the Circle, District and Hammersmith and City Lines - which cover much of the same areas of London - were simultaneously suspended. This was due to the failure of the drivers' radio link - a common problem. So common in fact you'd think it would be sorted out.

Most London commuters are used to delays. What many London Underground travellers don't seem to know is that you can reclaim the cost of your ticket if there's a delay of more than 15 minutes (except due to adverse weather, notified changes to service, security alerts). I'm convinced that's why late at night you'll only ever see the next train shown as due in 14 minutes. If you check your watch it will often actually arrive after at least 15 minutes.

Claiming a refund is a simple matter of picking up a Customer Charter form (sometimes prominently on display at stations, usually not) or claiming via the Transport for London website

Remembering to claim is the biggest obstacle, but with a single cash fare journey in Zone 1 costing £4 (without a season ticket or pre-paid Oyster Card) I usually try and have a couple of forms handy in my bag. If a 15 minute delay occurs I fill out the form and post it in the first postbox I see after emerging above ground. I'm convined that LU will work harder to minimise problems if it costs them revenue (critics of this view would say depriving LU of revenue makes maintenance even more unlikely).

London Transport actually has one of the most generous travel compensation schemes. Partly I suspect because so few people claim - and mainly because you get a credit for another journey, not real cash. 15 minutes isn't considered a big travel delay these days. Most mainline rail operators won't give you a penny until the delay exceeds an hour and even EU rules don't require airlines to make any amends for the first 2 hours stranded on the ground.

So well done London Transport for your generous compensation scheme.
Shame you don't publicise it.

No comments: