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Author Topic: Not happy with Heathrow Express...  (Read 6207 times)
infoman
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« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2019, 05:51:56 am »

I know the concourse is now gated,but is the footbridge?
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Timmer
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« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2019, 06:18:19 am »

Of course, you might still walk into a row at the Paddington end with another member of staff who doesn't understand or hasn't been told about the limitations on HEX restrictions when it comes to multi-TOC tickets.
Shouldn’t do as HEX trains arrive at non-gated platforms at Padd.

Platforms 6 and 7 are gated at Paddington.

Only platforms 1, 8 and 9 are non-gated.
Thx Ollie

Been a while since I last used HEX as this clearly shows as the last time I used it it wasn’t gated at 6 and 7.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2019, 10:49:25 am »

Personally I would wait and see what response you get to your correspondence before deciding whether to take it further.

This is actually what will probably happen, but it sometimes helps to put some momentum behind complaints so that the possibility of some lowly-graded and lowly-paid minion simply giving one of the stock replies from the list of stock replies is minimised. For example:

Person dealing with complaint reads it, notices the words "off peak," and thinks "case closed." Stock reply no 142 then gets copied and pasted: "Dear Sir - Thank you for contacting HEX about your recent experiences. However, it is company policy that off peak tickets are only available for travel after 0930 on weekdays, so we are unable ro help you in this case. Thank you for bringing the matter to our attention."

Conversely, if a local hack gets hold of the story and rings the HEX Public Relations and Press Officer (as they do), the matter will go straight to at least a Senior Manager if not the Chief Executive (having worked very closely with a PRO when I was a Complaints Officer I can assure you that this is a very good way to get one's complaint read by the right people!)
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2019, 11:38:48 am »

I know the concourse is now gated,but is the footbridge?

Yes it is.  Although the gateline is at the bottom of the steps leading up to it rather than on the footbridge itself.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #19 on: July 04, 2019, 04:35:29 pm »

A further update on the original complaint to HEX regarding denying access to the station at Terminal 5 before 0930 with an Off Peak ticket.

I got an email from them this afternoon asking me to ring them. I did so and, after going to some length advising the person I spoke to why HEX staff were wrong, he trotted out the same old line that HEX is not part of National Rail and that off peak tickets are not valid on their trains before 0930.

This is now four people employed by HEX that have told us this - two on the platform at Terminal 5 and two in their Customer Service Centre.

I asked him to put the apparent position of HEX in writing and that I would be taking the matter further. A lot further if needs be.

In my opinion this is now becoming serious. It is not just me or my partner who this potentially affects, but anybody attempting to use an HEX train before 0930 with a perfectly valid multi-TOC off peak ticket for onward travel beyond Paddington.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #20 on: July 04, 2019, 07:31:30 pm »

Yet another update. I copied the complaint to FGW for information and they have this afternoon replied as follows:

"Thank you for your email regarding your partner's journey on 2 July. I am sorry to hear they were refused to travel.
I have investigated the journey and can see the service was an off peak service so your partner should have been able to use their off peak single ticket.
I understand that you have sent in a complaint regarding this incident to Heathrow Express so I hope you hear from them soon. I am sorry for what your partner had to go through but hopefully, Heathrow Express can look into this incident and advise what went wrong and apologise to your partner.
Thanks again for getting in touch. Again, I am sorry to hear your partner was refused to travel with their valid train ticket. I hope things go more smoothly next time you travel."


So I've got allies in this war  Grin

In reply to that I emailed them asking whether it was possible for a GWR Senior Manager to have a quiet word in the ear of his/her opposite number at HEX to nip this in the bud before it goes all the way through the HEX Complaints Procedure and then the Rail Ombudsman if necessary. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.


« Last Edit: July 04, 2019, 07:47:02 pm by Robin Summerhill » Logged
Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2019, 03:16:11 pm »

Having spent probably far too much time on this matter, I now have a fair idea of what has gone on.

HEX introduced their peak/off peak distinction in June last year, and the times that each are available appear at clause 3.4 in their Conditions of Carriage. Prior to that there was only one basic standard class fare and that, without a railcard discount, was £25.00. The cost with a railcard discount was £16.50, and these continue to be the peak fares to this day.

After 0930 their off peak discount kicks in, and the lower fares are £22.00 without a railcard, and £14.52 with one. https://www.heathrowexpress.com/booking/ticket-selection?routeID=1&adultNR=1&childrenNR=0&day=8&month=0&promoCode=&railcardID=2

The single fares currently being charged between Heathrow and Chippenham via Paddington, and travel between Chippenham and Paddington only, with and without a railcard, are as follows:

With Senior Railcard         
Journey                              Anytime   Off Peak   Super OP
Heathrow to Chippenham       £75.25   £45.60   £38.00
Paddington to Chippenham     £58.75   £29.10   £21.50
Difference                              £16.50   £16.50   £16.50
HEX fare PAD to Heathrow with Senior Railcard   £16.50
Peak single with railcard discount      £16.50
Off peak express single                 £14.52

Prices without railcard         
Journey                               Anytime   Off Peak   Super OP
Heathrow to Chippenham      £114.00   £69.10   £57.60
Paddington to Chippenham     £89.00   £44.10   £32.60
Difference                            £25.00   £25.00   £25.00
HEX fare PAD to Heathrow without  Railcard   £25.00
Off peak express single         £22.00

It will be seen that the difference between Heathrow to Chippenham fares, and Paddington to Chippenham fares, are the same irrespective of the type of ticket held ie £25.00 without a railcard discount, and £16.50 with such a discount. Furthermore, these amounts are exactly the same as the peak fares on Heathrow Express, so this shows without any shadow of doubt that the fare element for the Heathrow to Paddington leg of the journey is being charged at peak rate, irrespective of what it should happen to say on the ticket about it being anytime, off peak or super off peak. Others are quite at liberty to check these findings with the BR fares website, or indeed to do similar comparisons with their home stations, but I would think it very unlikely indeed that the supplementary amounts for the Heathrow to Paddington legs are purely coincidental in the case of Chippenham only.

I therefore appear to have proved that Heathrow Express are totally in error to suggest that multi-TOC tickets that have the words off peak or super off peak written on them are not valid for travel on their trains before 0930.

Now I come to the final point of how this situation was allowed to arise in the first place. This is only speculation on my part of course, but I suspect that when Heathrow Express introduced their peak/off peak distinction last year, no-one ever bothered to consider the impact that this would have on multi-TOC tickets, the prices of which had been set some years before using the (then) only fare option between Heathrow and Paddington, a fare which is now the peak rate fare. This has resulted in HEX staff acting “correctly” in accordance with clause 3.4 of their conditions of carriage, and it is actually the clause 3.4 that needs to be amended to reflect the reality of the situation.

Finally, it came to light last night that my partner did actually book the ticket through the GWR website, so it is ultimately a problem that GWR will have to sort out because the contract she made was with them. And, incidentally, in their confirmatory email they included recommended trains to use, including (of course) HEX trains leaving Heathrow before 0930!

Is this perhaps a matter to bring to Mark Hopwood's attention if it hasn’t been sorted out by the time of the “meet the manager” session?

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bignosemac
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« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2019, 03:59:34 pm »

Worth noting that operational aspects of Heathrow Express are 'managed' by GWR.

Whilst retail, revenue and advertising remain with Heathrow Airport Holdings (t/a Heathrow Express) there could well be back channels between the two companies that can aid dealing with the fares issues. Longer distance fares flows, for instance, aren't priced by Heathrow Express. Chippenham to Heathrow is priced by GWR.
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stuving
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« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2019, 04:30:23 pm »

Presumably Heathrow has some agreement with RSP, a bit like the one for ticket retailers (which is available on line as a template). It would be a one-off, and need to deal with ticket acceptance on trains and as a station operator. I don't think they sell through tickets, in which case that could be left out.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2019, 08:29:55 am by stuving » Logged
Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2019, 04:32:49 pm »

Quote from: bignosemac
...there could well be back channels between the two companies that can aid dealing with the fares issues.

That's what I hoped and thought, and that's why I effectively suggested it to GWR in my email to them of 4th July. See the last paragraph of my post on this thread on the same date, three posts up from here.
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bobm
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« Reply #25 on: July 07, 2019, 08:10:29 am »

I know the concourse is now gated,but is the footbridge?

Yes it is.  Although the gateline is at the bottom of the steps leading up to it rather than on the footbridge itself.

Indeed

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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2019, 08:15:59 pm »

Something has happened to make an update on this saga worthwhile. For those who haven't read the thread from the beginning, back in July my OH was refused access to the HEX platform at Heathrow T5 at 0845 after an overnight flight from Johannesburg, because she held an off peak ticket. I already knew, and carried out some research to prove, that multi-TOC tickets for the HEX element of a longer journey is already charged at HEX peak rate, so the company is acting incorrectly by refusing to allow such tickets to be used before 0930 on weekdays.

On 16th July I told HEX in writing that I wasn't happy with the outcome of my complaint (which they rejected), and wanted it escalated to stage 2 of their internal complaints procedure. I did not hear back from them at all (a cynic might say that stage 2 of their procedure involves ignoring the complainant for so long that they go away, but if it is they picked the wrong passenger in this case). At the end of July I contacted my MP about the matter and she wrote to the CEO of HEX on 14th August. I have yet to hear back from either of them.

Initially GWR tried to wash it's hands of the matter arguing that it was nothing to do with them because it was HEX policy that I was arguing about. I argued back saying that it was to do with them because they sold my OH the ticket so she has a contract with GWR not HEX, and also that the fare she paid was set by GWR. Again I didn't hear back from them so I was waiting the required 56 days before I raised the issue with the Rail Ombudsman.

Then on Thursday 12th September I got an email from GWR apologising for them taking so long to reply. They said that because the reply was so long in coming they were going to give a full refund of the fare paid (£45.60) and the cheque arrived a week later.

I am not one to look gift horses in their mouths but I really don't understand why they did this. We didn't ask for any refund or compensation - all we asked for was that senior GWR management contact senior HEX senior management pointing out the error in their current procedures (GWR and HEX had already been provided with copies of my research proving that I was right and they were wrong), and to persuade them to issue new instructions to staff.

What am I missing?

Putting my conspiracy theorist tin foil hat on, I might be tempted to conclude that some senior people within HEX and GWR have been having a dialogue, know that there's a problem, don't want to own up to it publicly because there could easily be a few thousand other passengers that this has happened to who will want a refund if it all comes out in the open, so are trying to buy me off. The rationale to back that up is that by sending a full refund, GWR have effectively cancelled the original contract as the original fare has now not been paid (ie refunded). But I'm not a conspiracy theorist, so I'm flummoxed...

Oddited for teepees

« Last Edit: September 22, 2019, 11:10:54 pm by Robin Summerhill » Logged
grahame
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« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2019, 01:37:36 am »

Robin,  something makes me wonder if it's pragmatism rather that conspiracy.   It's probably already cost them a darned site more than £45.60 to investigate and reply, and would cost so much more once they were also answering the Rail Ombudsman - so much more practical to repay the fare (and apologise for the delay beyond specification as a reason for so doing) than to take it further.  Of course, you're (supposed to be) really happy to have had a free ride, and there's no need to make changes to the system at a time - err - when the who fare thing is (supposed to be) up in the air through RDG and Williams.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #28 on: October 23, 2019, 12:29:16 pm »

As I was reminded about this on another thread, here comes an update on this everyday story of arguing with TOCs  Wink

The story so far is all set out above, and the last time I posted on it I had received a cheque from GWR for a full refund of the OH's fare, and I had contacted my MP about the matter, who duly wrote to HEX. She got a reply from Les Freer (Business Lead Director) dated 22nd August. Unfortunately either the letter go lost in the post, or she sat on it for a month, because she didn't write to me until 18th September after I sent a chasing email.

As Mr Freer's letter runs to nearly two pages I won't type it all out verbatim, but will summarise it:

Paragraph 1 is the usual "thanks for your letter" stuff plus "Mr Summerhill raises a number of points that I will deal with in turn."

Para 2 is simply back slapping for the HEX complaints procedure.

Paras 3 and 4 explain how the national fares system works through the Product Management System. This confirms that the system works the way I thought it did but now I know what it's called and exactly how it works. Thank you for that information.

Para 5 is where the important information starts so I will type all of this out:

"When a customer buys a multi-TOC ticket, the lead operator of the journey decides the time restriction. In this case the lead operator was GWR which is why the ticket carried an off peak restriction. When a Heathrow Express ticket is bought as part of a multi-TOC journey, the only add-on from that is available is the £25 add-on".

Whilst that last sentence is rather short on grammatical sense we can get the gist of what he said. The lead operator sets the time restriction but the only add on for HEX is £25.00. And that just happens to be the peak rate HEX single fare. This of course confirms what my research had already revealed.

Para 6:
"The reason for this is that the only way the system will allow HEX to have multiple add-ons is if we as an operator enter into an agreement with every TOC in the country for every time restriction they have. While this is technically possible, it is practically unrealistic as it would involve creating a bespoke add-on for every permutation and combination of time restrictions within the UK. Therefore, HEX adopts a singular add-on of £25.00 when bought as a multi-TOC ticket. The only way around this is to buy separate tickets which your constituent's example would be a Heathrow to Paddington (HEX ticket) and an off peak Paddington to Chippenham GWR ticket. In your constituent's case, HEX colleagues did allow the passenger to travel on a peak train with an off peak ticket."

Personally I smell red herrings here. I agree that to get involved in multi-TOC agreements just so as to allow some passengers to travel for £3.00 less (the difference between HEX peak and off peak fares), I wasn't suggesting that. I was simply suggesting that, as HEX are getting their full  peak rate fare on all multi-TOC tickets, they should be allowing all passengers who hold such tickets to trave on any HEX  train. That doesn't need new complicated multi-TOC agreements. that just needs an email or a memo to be sent.

Para 7:
"In terms of issuing instructions to our colleagues to keep the fully aware of ticketing restrictions, we ensure that all our colleagues are trained to operate the gatelines safely whilst giving the best possible customer experience. Colleagues are regularly informed of any changes to the time restrictions or ticket types. There will be certain occasions when colleagues come across unknown situations at which point they would give the benefit of the doubt tp the passenger as happened in this case, wherein initially the customer was informed of the ticketing restrictions but was subsequently welcomes on board in the peak times even though the ticket carried an off peak restriction".

So there we have it. In summary, HEX agree that they are taking a peak rate cut on all multi-TOC tickets, but appear to be putting the blame on the other operators ie. "its not up to us Guv, the other operator says its an off peak ticket and we don't accept off peak tickets for peak hour trains." They also appear to be congratulating themselves for "leniency" in allowing her to use the ticket on a peak hour train, and for which she had paid the peak rate to HEX.

Personally I don't think that that argument stands up to close scrutiny. The next stage will be to see if London Travelwatch agrees with Les Freer or me...


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Timmer
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« Reply #29 on: October 23, 2019, 06:51:48 pm »

Thank you for taking the time to write an update Robin.
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