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1 Oct 2021

'I went overdrawn whilst waiting for a Trainline refund'

What can you do if a refund doesn't appear in your account?

Do you have an issue you need put right? Which? is here to help get your consumer problems sorted.

Dear Which?,

During the so-called summer 'pingdemic' I had to cancel a trip to London I'd booked with Trainline as I was self-isolating after being pinged by the NHS Test & Trace App.

I contacted Trainline to let them know the circumstances and it told me I would have the refund within seven days. I waited, but the refund didn't come so I chased again and was then told I would have the refund in seven to ten days.

After trying countless times to speak to someone, I eventually got through to a manager who told me that I had to wait a further five days for the refund. It still didn't come.

I'm a clinically vulnerable person and needed the money to buy food and pay my energy bills, without this I went overdrawn and my mental health has deteriorated.

I feel I've been lied to by Trainline. I imagine loads of people found themselves in similar situations this summer. What is the hold-up with my refund?

SB, Bedford.

Put to Rights

Luke Jeffery, consumer rights expert at Which? says:

When a company promises a refund, you expect them to stick to their word and honour it. I'm sorry you had to wait for so long to get your money back, and that you have been treated with little sensitivity.

As you couldn't rearrange the booking due to self-isolation, you are automatically entitled to a refund under Trainline's terms and conditions. They state that 'anytime' or 'off-peak tickets' are fully refundable, and the money should be back in your account within five days of applying for a refund.

When I contacted Trainline to find out why your refund was being stalled, it told me that a 'temporary glitch' with its system was the cause of the hold-up. It added that because of this, a further five days would be needed to process the refund.

You should have been informed of this at the time.

In a statement, Trainline told us that: 'We confirmed that we would be happy to provide her with a refund as on this occasion she was unable to rebook her journey.'

'We're sorry that due to a temporary glitch this was delayed but has now been processed and she should expect to receive the funds back onto her original payment method.'

A company can take up to 30 days to issue refunds, although often a refund will land in your account much sooner than this; anything over this timeframe would be considered an excessive delay.

If you're awaiting a refund and it doesn't appear in your account as expected, you should first chase the company before escalating a complaint. If you're still waiting, you could try submitting a Section 75 claim if you paid by credit card or a chargeback claim for debit card payments.

If you receive a final response that you're not happy with you can escalate a complaint to the ombudsman. Ombudsman schemes are free for consumers to use, and are an alternative to going to court to sort out a problem.

Need to know

  • Check the company's terms and conditions to find out its refund policy, this should be easily found on its website.
  • If you're getting nowhere with a dispute then you can try a Section 75 or chargeback claim.
  • You can get compensation for a train journey that has been delayed or cancelled. Under existing schemes such as 'Delay Repay', you should be able to claim your money back easily if you've experienced a delay of 15 to 30 minutes.

Get in touch. If you've got a consumer rights problem you need put right, email us at yourstory@which.co.uk.

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