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Train companies’ misleading claims hit buffers

Train operators will amend their terms to stop misleading customers who can claim extra compensation

From this weekend, passengers left out-of-pocket because of a failure by their train company will not be put off from claiming by misleading terms and conditions.

The industry-wide National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCoT) will be changed this Sunday to recognise the different routes to compensation.

Including the passengers’ right to claim using the Consumer Rights Act, which came into force for the travel industry more than a year ago.

Passengers should not be put off from claiming compensation, including for reasonable and foreseeable consequential losses.

What does consequential loss mean?

‘Consequential loss’ is a legal term and means extra losses someone suffers – such as taxi fares or hotel bookings – when their train journey is disrupted because of a failure to provide the service with reasonable care and skill. For example, if the train company didn’t provide disabled access that was guaranteed at the time of the booking so a passenger couldn’t catch their train.

The Consumer Rights Act (CRA) came into effect for the rail industry on 1 October 2016, however it has taken more than a year for the NRCoT to better reflect consumers’ rights.

As well as consequential loss, the CRA means passengers may also be able to claim for poor service.

We found train companies have been giving blanket advice wrongly telling passengers they can’t make a claim, leaving people out of pocket when they could have claimed compensation.

The new conditions of travel should end this misinformation.

Last year, Which? found that train companies were potentially breaking the law by misleading consumers about their rights to claim for consequential loss.

We raised our concerns by writing to train companies and subsequently worked with the Office for Road and Rail (ORR), the industry regulator.

The changes will make sure passengers won’t be given the impression compensation isn’t an option in circumstances where they might legitimately be able to claim.

Nowhere for train companies to hide

Which? managing director of public markets, Alex Hayman, said that for more than a year train companies have been misleading passengers about their rights to claim for out-of-pocket expenses when they have failed to deliver a good service.

‘Train companies can now no longer hide behind misleading terms to avoid paying passengers.

‘They need to go further and proactively inform passengers about their compensation rights. If they fail to uphold these rights, they should be held to account by the government and the regulator.’

Top tips to making a successful claim

  • Take a note of the date, time, train company and the service you’re on, in a safe place such as in an email to yourself or a note on your phone.
  • Make sure you include the reason given for the delay or cancellation and how long you were held-up for.
  • Record what impact the service disruption had ​on you​ – ​eg, you had to take a taxi because the last train home was cancelled.
  • ​Keep any receipts and take photos to support your claim.
  • We can help you make a free ​claim to get back any out of pocket expenses or consequential losses you’ve had.

You can also claim set levels of compensation if your train is delayed or cancelled through Delay Repay.

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