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Author Topic: Cross Country Trains 'Customer Relations'  (Read 1837 times)
Bob_Blakey
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« on: February 14, 2018, 10:59:56 am »

As Major James Anderson - Jimmy of Reginald Perrin fame - might have said, 'bit of a cock-up on the customer service front!'

17th December 2017: SWTSMBO and I were travelling from BHM to DIG on through tickets departing New Street at 1612. Service was diverted via Westbury as scheduled and, as a result of various accumulated minor delays, got to EXD at 1951 just in time for us to see our 1951 Exmouth line connection departing. Next Digby service was at 2052 so this 61 minute delay should result in a full refund?

19th December: Delay compensation request duly submitted online.

6th February 2018: Seven weeks later, having heard nothing from XC but suspecting I knew what the issue would be, called them only to be informed of a large backlog of delay claims due to the strike action. Not a word of apology mind you, just a bland statement of 'fact'; have XC started using the same customer service handbook as GWR?

8th February: Email from XC advising that as the train had only been 4 minutes late no compensation would be payable. Having no idea how XC had arrived at this obviously erroneous conclusion I telephoned them and explained to their representative how to read train running data. It transpired they had been looking at the times for one of the Sundays when the service ran direct from BRI to TAU. Job done, I thought, time to relax and wait for the appropriate payment to be delivered (I had specified cash rather than vouchers in my original submission).

9th February: Another email from XC asking for a copy of my original online booking information. Completely ignoring the fact that the booking reference was specified in my original submission and anyway appears on the travel tickets, copies of which I also provided (as requested by XC!). I sent the information again in the hope that it might speed up the process. Fat chance.

14th February: Email from XC containing, along with all the default guff, the following text;
Compensation is normally paid directly to the delayed customer, so in order to enable me to complete the processing of this claim, I'd be grateful if you'd reply to this message and provide me with names and contact details for your companion, including email addresses if possible. I'll then make sure that you are each sent compensation individually for the delay you experienced on this occasion.
If you would prefer for all the compensation to be paid directly to you, we'll need permission to do this from your companion. They can authorise this over the phone by calling us on 03447 369123 (option 3), or they can email us on customer.relations@crosscountrytrains.co.uk. If they call us, then please make sure they have the case reference XC******BCCW to hand, and if they email they should put this in the subject line of their message.

I assume, if asked, they would use Data Protection legislation or something similar to try and justify this nonsense. Both tickets were booked, and paid for, in my name so I completely fail to understand why any delay compensation should be treated differently.

We will do as XC ask of course just to get shot of this issue - and reduce my blood pressure to more normal levels - but I regard this as Class A1 Completely Cr*p Customer Service.  Angry 
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richwarwicker
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2018, 11:05:05 am »

Itís compensation to the delayed not a refund to the purchaser as such. You buying the ticket is irrelevant as it is your companion who is entitled to the delay compensation
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bignosemac
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2018, 02:12:14 pm »

Itís compensation to the delayed not a refund to the purchaser as such. You buying the ticket is irrelevant as it is your companion who is entitled to the delay compensation

By that logic an accompanying child would have to make  compensation claim too? How does a 6 year old do sort out a cheque, RTV, PayPal deposit, bank transfer or refund to card? 

CrossCountry are just being unnecessarily awkward. There is no mention in their T&Cs that all claims must be made individually. A single transaction should be compensated to the original purchasers payment method.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2018, 02:14:55 pm »

~Or choice of repayment methods when making the claim
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2018, 03:36:01 pm »

Itís compensation to the delayed not a refund to the purchaser as such. You buying the ticket is irrelevant as it is your companion who is entitled to the delay compensation

Gives rise to some very interesting questions ...

A ticket is bought for me by my company and I travel ... but arrive more than an hour late and so am entitled to compensation. I reclaim and get the money back.   Knowing that trains often sometimes get delayed, I have travelled early and rather than stopping in the local Wetherspoons Costa to work for a couple of hours before my meeting, I've worked on the train anyway and go straight to the meeting.

1. Do I have to repay the compensation to my company?

2. Is the compensation something that is taxable?

For the benefit of any (ex)tax inspectors reading, my second question is hypothetical.   I have only once claimed delay/repay, and that went back to the account from which the ticket was bought in the first place!
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stuving
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2018, 04:06:14 pm »

That question of compensation payments for travel paid by an employer (and to some extent in paid time too) falls, I suspect, into the same grey area as frequent traveller schemes. Those, if you have any influence at all on which carrier is used, are obviously corrupt. Canada and Germany (as I remember it) banned them for many years for that reason, but eventually gave up trying to teach deontology to the rest of the world.

If you can show you have no influence at all, it's hard to see they are pay, but in both cases the reason carriers pay them (to buy loyalty) is better served if they go to the employer. That leaves you and your boss arguing about how much you get paid for the inconveniences of travelling on their behalf.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2018, 04:30:45 pm »

Strictly, if you benefit personally from something that the company originally bought, then HMRC would argue that it's taxable on you personally - like paying for you to get to work. The money would be due back to the company that paid for it to strictly remove the tax possibility.

If however, you were travelling *in your own time*, it has been argued by others that it is compensation for the delay to your personal time, and thus no benefit-in-kind. I don't know the outcome of that argument, but I do know it has been used by others.

It's a grey area in your own time - HMRC have won in company time.

Re the frequent flyer schemes that fill from company flying - if you use them to gop on holiday, for example, they are taxable. If you use them to fly on business at your choice rather than the companies, I believe HMRC gave up as the benefit to you flying at the times you choose rather than the companies is minimal. But using them for personal flying - yes, they're strictly taxable.
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didcotdean
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2018, 05:04:45 pm »

The HMRC tax ruling for loyalty schemes is here: Particular benefits: air miles, credit card points etc

Quote
"In general, air miles, petrol tokens, credit card points etc. acquired by an employee are not taxable if they were acquired in the same way as applies to any other member of the general public, for instance by buying goods or services on which such benefits are given.

"However, there is a tax charge on such items, if they are provided by reason of the employeeís employment.
This would be the case if the fact of the employment was a necessary antecedent condition to the receipt of air miles. An example of this would be where the employer purchased a block of air miles and distributed them to the employees, perhaps as part of an incentive scheme. Another example would be where thereís an arrangement for a third party to provide petrol tokens or some other form of award points specifically to employees of a particular employer but not to other customers.

So it doesn't matter how you use them from an HMRC perspective, so long as it isn't a specific scheme tied to your employment remuneration package.

Compensation paid on delays for air in law is for the passenger, and the same I guess applies to rail. It would need a clause in an employment contract to make an employee hand this over to their employer.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2018, 05:17:50 pm »

Indeed so, but as its income gleaned by way of flying on the cost of the company, it could be seen as a benefit-in-kind to the employer, *if* flying in company time.

Cf Monday's closure on London City Airport. If they received any compensation for having to delay the flight, it belongs to the company as it arose from something bought by the company - in the eyes of HMRC.

They have changed the way they look at flying miles use since I last had deaings with them on that issue.

Unless there is something from HMRC about flying compensation like the miles accumulation by simply flying, then hMRC can open a case on the 'benefit'
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didcotdean
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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2018, 05:46:26 pm »

In general terms, the principle is that a sum paid as compensation from a source other than the employment to relieve distress is not earnings, even if paid directly by the employer and not as in this case from a third party. Not sure if there has been the need for a specific test case around rail/air delay compensation though.

No compensation would have been due in the LCY closure under exceptional circumstances, although there would still have been duty of care.

Other countries have much wider interpretations of income than the UK.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2018, 05:53:38 pm by didcotdean » Logged
bignosemac
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2018, 11:22:39 pm »

Wow, that drifted quickly from the OPs query. Which made no mention of employers, taxable benefits in kind, or air travel.  Roll Eyes
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Bob_Blakey
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2018, 01:00:17 pm »

Wow, that drifted quickly from the OPs query.

Funnily enough I was thinking likewise; time to issue the moderators with more powerful cattle prods?  Grin

Anyway those lovely people at XC have now delivered what should be their last communication concerning my delay repay claim and confirmed that I will receive a full refund sometime during the next 10 working days (they obviously use a different BACS system to everybody else!).

And best of all the email includes a link to a market research survey via which I have been invited to tell XC how I think my claim was handled; I hope they have their tin hats at the ready. Cheesy
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bignosemac
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« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2018, 03:58:05 pm »

Give 'em both barrels Bob_Blakey.

No reason not to issue the compensation to the claimant. Asking for your travelling companion's details without stating how they'd process that information isn't really on. Once they'd gotten them there's no telling what marketing and feedback guff your companion would have had in their inbox or on their doormat. I bet the request for your companion's details didn't saying anything about opting in or out of further communications from CrossCountry or selected third parties.

With my cynicism flat cap on I'd say CrossCountry were just fishing for another name to add to their marketing database. Once you're on those things it's nigh on impossible to get your data deleted. I know from bitter experience.

I applaud your tenacity getting a resolution. Fingers crossed your compensation arrives in the timescale stated. Remember though, it's unwise to refrain from exhaling!  Wink Tongue Grin
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