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Author Topic: Online FGW ticket buying warning !  (Read 19863 times)
standardsingle
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« on: March 21, 2011, 06:41:18 am »

Hi all

I was pleased to find this site when googling the phrase First Great Western Customer Service.

I'd like to alert you to a problem you may have when reserving tickets via the FGW site.  There seem to be some web development and design issues there that can lead to you getting a ticket with different conditions from what you thought.

Sometime in the last few months a new feature was added to their site, so that when you search for a journey and display a page of available times and fares, the first two rows are now described as just  the cheapest second and first class tickets, then below that rows of advance and other tickets are displayed.

The first entry describes itself as the cheapest standard single, but does not say Advance or that it can only be used on that train and cannot be refunded.

Two rows below it you may see also an Advance ticket listed, which says it can only be used on that journey and cannot be refunded.

These would appear to a visitor to the site to be two different tickets.  Not to FGW, though.   Buy the first listed ticket and you actually get the Advance ticket, which you then find FGW say cannot be refunded.

If these two are the same ticket at best it is confusing and inefficient to display them as two separate and different appearing items.   At worst it misleads customers into buying tickets with unexpected restrictions.

So be very careful using this site.


PS I don't know if I can post images or screenshots here as a new user - I do have them, and they make it very clear that these items appear as separate entries in their own rows making them look like different products.
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2011, 07:19:59 am »

PS I don't know if I can post images or screenshots here as a new user - I do have them, and they make it very clear that these items appear as separate entries in their own rows making them look like different products.

1.

Hi, Welcome to "The Coffeeshop", standardsingle.  You can post an image (with the image stored on our site) under "Additional Options" and this should be available to you without any minimum number of posts.  You can also link in an image from web space that you use elsewhere using the [ img ] to [ /img ] tag pair - press the second button on the second row of little icons as you compose and one of these pairs will be added to your draft post, and you then put the url of the image in between - for example [ img ]http://www.wellho.net/pix/pylonesque.jpg[ /img ]  (no spaces) will give you



2. You have a very good point about it not always being totally clear that the lowest cost option is a very restricted ticket ... many of us (and I'm afraid I tend to include myself) forget that there are many users who haven't used the system as extensively as we have and will tend to get caught out by these things.

P.S.  Welcome to the forum !

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Brucey
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2011, 07:28:17 am »

This appears to be standard on all Trainline.com powered websites.  I almost got caught myself when buying tickets on the SWT website.

More reason to use the Mixing Deck Cheesy
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standardsingle
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2011, 07:44:38 am »

You can post an image

Hi thanks for the reply.  Here's a typical screenshot
 

The Journey Summary bit refers to the Cheapest Standard Single ticket and popped up when that ticket was selected.  The words Advance and non-refundable are nowhere to be seen.
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standardsingle
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2011, 07:52:56 am »

More reason to use the Mixing Deck Cheesy

Hi Brucey that has got me interested - what is the Mixing Deck?
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Brucey
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2011, 08:05:14 am »

Hi Brucey that has got me interested - what is the Mixing Deck?
It is a different booking engine used by some TOCs.  An example is East Coast.
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eightf48544
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2011, 08:39:54 am »

Agree the FGW site is very misleading.

The Nationalrail site is clearer it lists the trains horizontally and has Advanced against the price for that train. Which if you know to click on it says restricted to particuclar train, no mention of no refund.

However if you select that train you get total price below again with Advanced against it  click on that you get a full screen of all the restrictions including Non Refundable but only after you scroll down a bit.

Had a look at mixing deck (ECML) and agree it's much cleare with it claerly stated under the ticket must tavel on given train and not refundabled.

I usually buy through Chiltern, to give them 9% of the fare as they were the least worse TOC (although after Evergreen 3  mix up) I might have to change my mind. They seem to use mixing deck as well which is good. However one slight draw back it gave the advance fares as being from ^15 but didn't list a train with that fare for 4/4.



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imac
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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2011, 10:23:09 pm »

Where tickets are bought off the web, is the purchase not subject to the Distance Selling Regulations 2000 ? Its presumably a 'service'?
In which case, where an incorrect ticket is issued or the sale advertsiment does not state any restrictions or you simply change your mind within 7 days, presumably a refund is due [ regardless of the type of ticket]??

Can anyone throw more light on this?

imac
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bignosemac
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2011, 10:43:17 pm »

Distance Selling Regulations are, in the main, there to allow consumers to inspect goods to ensure they are to their liking. With train tickets you know exactly what you are buying when you purchase online. There are many exceptions to the regulations and one of these is the sales of tickets for transport.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2000/2334/contents/made

In particular Regulation 6.

So, you're not covered by them if you change your mind. However other consumer law should cover you if the tickets are misleadingly advertised.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2011, 10:48:41 pm by bignosemac » Logged

imac
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2011, 01:34:30 pm »

Bignosemac

Thankyou for your informative reply. I have now checked back on rs 6 and 7 of the Distance Selling Regulations, and, agreed, advance tickets do seem to be among the partial exemptions.

Following your further lead, and in advance of further advice and a more in depth study, I would think at first glance that the particular web page illustrated and used for purchase would be contrary to ss 21 and 22 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and also possibly Reg 2 of the Control of Misleading Advertisments Regulations 1988. There are, of course, tucked away in odd bits of legislation all sorts of other exemptions for Railways, which might make my comments not apply. If they do, however, we might have possible criminal offences on the part of the advertiser, though I'm not sure that they themselves directly lead to a refund.

Whatever, it would seem prudent for FGW to tidy this particular web site up before an irritated someone, inspired by 'no win - no fee' lawyers, does some more serious work.
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bignosemac
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2011, 03:55:36 pm »

It wouldn't be FGW 'tidying up' that part of the website. The booking engine is provided and maintained by thetrainline. Many other TOCs use the same booking engine and they also show this slightly misleading 'cheapest single'.

However, on the final page before entering payment details you get a booking summary which lets you know the ticket type you are purchasing, with the ticket name hyperlinked to its T&Cs. Under thie ticket name is a summary of those T&Cs:

Quote
    * This ticket is only valid for travel on Great Western services only.
    * Non-refundable ticket, only valid for the date, time and trains specified.
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2011, 05:12:24 pm »

Quote
    * This ticket is only valid for travel on Great Western services only.

Too much use of the word 'only' in there, I think?  Roll Eyes
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William Huskisson MP was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
imac
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« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2011, 02:41:58 pm »

bignosemac

Thankyou for the further information

imac
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standardsingle
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« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2011, 04:56:49 pm »



However, on the final page before entering payment details you get a booking summary which lets you know the ticket type you are purchasing, with the ticket name hyperlinked to its T&Cs. Under thie ticket name is a summary of those T&Cs:

Quote
    * This ticket is only valid for travel on Great Western services only.
    * Non-refundable ticket, only valid for the date, time and trains specified.

This is in fine print on the fourth screen in the purchase process,  3 screens after selecting the ticket type, which did not say it was not refundable, whereas on the initial screen other ticket types did say they were not refundable.  I think a screenshot is needed to show how obscure this fine print info really is.  And why is it presented so late in the sales process, and only so late for this particular ticket choice?

At best the presentation is inconsistent and confusing, misleading the customer.  If this ticket is in fact meant to be the same as another one  on the initial page, why present the same ticket twice there with different descriptions and apparently different conditions attached?

At worst the presentation is deliberately misleading.  It might have been an error originally, but there is no excuse for leaving it there now they know about it, and because it could look like "bait and switch". FGW are responsible for what they say on their website, even if they do get data in from The Trainline, and FGW could easily just change wording or presentation as needed before outputting the Trainline data, or even put it back to how it used to be before this problem started.

There is a good case here for the customer asking for a full refund from FGW, as well as asking them to sort out what they say on their website to make things clear for everyone.

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Ollie
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« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2011, 11:12:17 pm »

There is a good case here for the customer asking for a full refund from FGW, as well as asking them to sort out what they say on their website to make things clear for everyone.
No there isn't a case for someone wanting a refund.

If it was a case of being told after buying the ticket "oh by the way it's fixed and not refundable" then sure, understandable, but the conditions are told before payment is made.
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