Northern refusing to refund

Minnietheminx

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I was travelling from Barnsley to Corkickle in July and came back last week. I bought an off-peak return using Northern's mobile app, travelling out on 24th July. On 23rd August, I opened the mobile app at Corkickle station to activate the return portion of the ticket, it had expired! As I understand the T&C's, it should have been valid for travel that day. So, in order to get back to Barnsley, I had to buy a single ticket. Northern are refusing to refund the single ticket as it had been used, despite the fact that I only bought the d*mn thing because their app expired my ticket early. Even though I've sent them a screenshot of the return portion of the return ticket (taken 8 minutes before my train was due), which showed the date the ticket was valid from and to, the time and date on my phone and the bright red "ticket expired" message. So far as I am concerned, that screenshot shows that their app had expired my ticket early.

Any suggestions?
 
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Watershed

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I was travelling from Barnsley to Corkickle in July and came back last week. I bought an off-peak return using Northern's mobile app, travelling out on 24th July. On 23rd August, I opened the mobile app at Corkickle station to activate the return portion of the ticket, it had expired! As I understand the T&C's, it should have been valid for travel that day. So, in order to get back to Barnsley, I had to buy a single ticket. Northern are refusing to refund the single ticket as it had been used, despite the fact that I only bought the d*mn thing because their app expired my ticket early. Even though I've sent them a screenshot of the return portion of the return ticket (taken 8 minutes before my train was due), which showed the date the ticket was valid from and to, the time and date on my phone and the bright red "ticket expired" message. So far as I am concerned, that screenshot shows that their app had expired my ticket early.

Any suggestions?
Provided you hadn't already finished using the return portion, yes it shouldn't have expired. This isn't the first time that I've heard of such problems with the m-ticket implementation in Trainline white label apps like Northern's.

Northern (well, strictly speaking Trainline - they are legally the retailer) are therefore in breach of contract and must reimburse your resultant losses/costs.

I would escalate the matter further, above the often useless first-line Trainline support team. If they still refuse, we'll be able to advise on how best to proceed.

For future reference, it's a little bit cheaper to split at Denby Dale and Cark in Cartmel for that journey (£69.30 vs £72.40), and quite a bit cheaper to split at Hellifield (£59.70) if you're happy to take the less frequently served route via Leeds and Carnforth.

Also, if you buy your ticket through a more reputable retailer next time, you will be offered an e-ticket, which is far better than an m-ticket. An e-ticket is effectively like an airline boarding pass - you'll have a PDF you can print or show on any electronic device, and in some cases you will also be able to show it from within the retailer's app. Unlike an m-ticket, an e-ticket won't be locked to being shown on one particular app and hence you can't be told it's "expired" and be prevented from showing it.
 
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Minnietheminx

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Thanks. I guessed that the app sales were subcontracted when Northern's twitter response directed me to [email protected]. If I'd known the app was operated by Trainline I wouldn't have touched them with the proverbial bargepole! I much prefer to deal direct where I can, if things go wrong, the fewer organisations standing between me and the supplier of goods or services, the better IMO.

The latest bull**** from them is to to state that the screenshot I sent them doesn't show HOW and WHEN the ticket expired. Even if I could see some way of getting that information from the mobile app (not sure where that information would be), I consider that to be irrelevant (as I've already demonstrated that the return portion of the ticket had expired when I came to try to activate it, so there's either a problem with their mobile app or they are accusing me of fraud), and then goes on to request (another) copy of the 'newly purchased' ticket, in other words, they are asking me to send them a copy of a ticket they have already rejected a refund request for.

I can't decide if they are taking the p***, trying to make the process even more frustrating than it needs to be in a hopeless attempt to make me give up, or are just trying to string me along long enough to make it difficult to take the matter further via either some kind of ombudsman, a chargeback to my debit card or just take the case to court.

Which would you recommend?

Thanks for the hints about alternative tickets. I'd looked into it in the past, but past experience has taught me that it's not a good idea to restrict myself to Northern's services on a journey with multiple connections, if one connection is missed it is sometimes easier to catch a West Coast Mainline or Transpennine Express from Carlisle or Lancaster to Preston or Manchester than be restricted to waiting for the next Northern train going in the right direction, that's especially true of the Lancaster-Leeds segment, which is both inconveniently infrequent and frequently inconvenient. Shall we put it this way, I'm no stranger to Northern's implementation of Delay Repay.
 

Watershed

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The latest bull**** from them is to to state that the screenshot I sent them doesn't show HOW and WHEN the ticket expired. Even if I could see some way of getting that information from the mobile app (not sure where that information would be), I consider that to be irrelevant (as I've already demonstrated that the return portion of the ticket had expired when I came to try to activate it, so there's either a problem with their mobile app or they are accusing me of fraud), and then goes on to request (another) copy of the 'newly purchased' ticket, in other words, they are asking me to send them a copy of a ticket they have already rejected a refund request for.

I can't decide if they are taking the p***, trying to make the process even more frustrating than it needs to be in a hopeless attempt to make me give up, or are just trying to string me along long enough to make it difficult to take the matter further via either some kind of ombudsman, a chargeback to my debit card or just take the case to court.
It's unlikely they're intentionally messing you around - more that they just have a set process to follow, which requires certain evidence that they haven't bothered to look for. But there's certainly no way that you would be able to know how or when the ticket has expired, it just says expired.

Which would you recommend?
I'd continue to engage with them if they are still asking for more information. But if they get to the point where they outright refuse to reimburse you, that's when you might want to take it further. I don't think there is the option of taking this to any ombudsman - Trainline aren't a participating service provider with the Rail Ombudsman and I don't think Transport Focus would be much use (they are 'only' mediators, anyway).

Thanks for the hints about alternative tickets. I'd looked into it in the past, but past experience has taught me that it's not a good idea to restrict myself to Northern's services on a journey with multiple connections, if one connection is missed it is sometimes easier to catch a West Coast Mainline or Transpennine Express from Carlisle or Lancaster to Preston or Manchester than be restricted to waiting for the next Northern train going in the right direction, that's especially true of the Lancaster-Leeds segment, which is both inconveniently infrequent and frequently inconvenient. Shall we put it this way, I'm no stranger to Northern's implementation of Delay Repay.
Yes, that's true. If you don't want to be limited to the Little North Western, and don't want to travel before 9am or return the same day, there's not much of a saving by splitting.
 

Bletchleyite

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Just a thought, you didn't accidentally activate the return half in advance of the day on which you were going to use it, did you?

I've only heard of this problem when people make overnight breaks of journey, as the ticket shows as "expired" the day after you activate it.

(M-tickets are awful - such a shame TOCs are still using them when there is no need at all)
 

Watershed

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Just a thought, you didn't accidentally activate the return half in advance of the day on which you were going to use it, did you?

I've only heard of this problem when people make overnight breaks of journey, as the ticket shows as "expired" the day after you activate it.

(M-tickets are awful - such a shame TOCs are still using them when there is no need at all)
Even if the OP had done this, the ticket would still have been valid (the return portion of an Off-Peak Return is valid for a month). and Trainline would still be in the wrong.

It's clear their m-ticket integration is awful.
 

Bletchleyite

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Even if the OP had done this, the ticket would still have been valid (the return portion of an Off-Peak Return is valid for a month). and Trainline would still be in the wrong.

It's clear their m-ticket integration is awful.

M-tickets are just awful generally. RDG needs to retire the format entirely and tell the TOCs that don't use e-tickets to suck it up and deploy them now.
 

Minnietheminx

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No. I didn't go into the ticket section of the app after the last time the outward portion was checked until about 10 minutes before the train was due for the first leg of the return journey. The screenshots I sent clearly showed that the return portion of the ticket had not been activated.
 

AlterEgo

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Even if the OP had done this, the ticket would still have been valid (the return portion of an Off-Peak Return is valid for a month). and Trainline would still be in the wrong.

It's clear their m-ticket integration is awful.
Indeed. And it’s also a known issue.
 

Minnietheminx

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Unfortunately (for me, anyway), Northern's website claims that my journey isn't available as an e-ticket so in future I'm stuck either buying online and picking it up at the station (assuming the ticket machines aren't vandalised, offline or being held hostage by some script kiddie) or buying on the day, hoping the ticket machine is working or there's not a massive queue in the ticket office.

Finally, some good news. After multiple requests, Trainline finally gave me an email address to escalate the complaint. And an almost-immediate response from Northern was effectively "How would you like your refund?". After being d*cked about for the best part of 2 weeks by Trainline, it's good to finally get through to someone competent.

Thanks, everyone who responded to me. I'm grateful for your support and your confirmation that my complaint was justified.
 
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Watershed

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Unfortunately (for me, anyway), Northern's website claims that my journey isn't available as an e-ticket so in future I'm stuck either buying online and picking it up at the station (assuming the ticket machines aren't vandalised, offline or being held hostage by some script kiddie) or buying on the day, hoping the ticket machine is working or there's not a massive queue in the ticket office.

Finally, some good news. After multiple requests, Trainline finally gave me an email address to escalate the complaint. And an almost-immediate response from Northern was effectively "How would you like your refund?". After being d*cked about for the best part of 2 weeks by Trainline, it's good to finally get through to someone competent.

Thanks, everyone who responded to me. I'm grateful for your support and your confirmation that my complaint was justified.
Trainsplit is happy to sell that as an e-ticket (note - you need to use www.trainscanbecheaper.info or new.trainsplit.com and disable split tickets to make sure you're not sold a split).

Northern's website and app are generally just not very customer friendly.
 

js1000

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I was travelling from Barnsley to Corkickle in July and came back last week. I bought an off-peak return using Northern's mobile app, travelling out on 24th July. On 23rd August, I opened the mobile app at Corkickle station to activate the return portion of the ticket, it had expired! As I understand the T&C's, it should have been valid for travel that day. So, in order to get back to Barnsley, I had to buy a single ticket. Northern are refusing to refund the single ticket as it had been used, despite the fact that I only bought the d*mn thing because their app expired my ticket early. Even though I've sent them a screenshot of the return portion of the return ticket (taken 8 minutes before my train was due), which showed the date the ticket was valid from and to, the time and date on my phone and the bright red "ticket expired" message. So far as I am concerned, that screenshot shows that their app had expired my ticket early.

Any suggestions?
It's a well known glitch with the apps that tickets are expiring earlier than they should. Northern released an update on Android on 26th August to correct such issues. I have attached so you can include in your reply.

TPE tickets are also expiring early for some reason. The lack of urgency by TOCs to sort out such obvious problems is nothing short of disgraceful and does nothing to engender the minimal faith passengers currently have in the railway.

One of the reasons I'm a big believer in paper tickets because the provisions for digital ticketing on the railway in this country still fall woefully short of the standards expected.
 

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Wolfie

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It's a well known glitch with the apps that tickets are expiring earlier than they should. Northern released an update on Android on 26th August to correct such issues. I have attached so you can include in your reply.

TPE tickets are also expiring early for some reason. The lack of urgency by TOCs to sort out such obvious problems is nothing short of disgraceful and does nothing to engender the minimal faith passengers currently have in the railway.

One of the reasons I'm a big believer in paper tickets because the provisions for digital ticketing on the railway in this country still fall woefully short of the standards expected.
I have to say that a few MCOL claims might concentrate their attention rapidly. Particularly as they have to cough up the filing fees to settle....
 

Bikeman78

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Also, if you buy your ticket through a more reputable retailer next time, you will be offered an e-ticket, which is far better than an m-ticket. An e-ticket is effectively like an airline boarding pass - you'll have a PDF you can print or show on any electronic device, and in some cases you will also be able to show it from within the retailer's app. Unlike an m-ticket, an e-ticket won't be locked to being shown on one particular app and hence you can't be told it's "expired" and be prevented from showing it.
A few weeks ago I arrived at Liverpool Street using the return portion of a super off peak return. It was valid for one month and this was the second day of validity. The barriers spat it out so the person attending the barriers checked the code which stated ticket expired. He was as confused a me, clearly the ticket had not expired. So he let me through. As you say, having something that can be checked by a person is much better.
 

AlbertBeale

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A few weeks ago I arrived at Liverpool Street using the return portion of a super off peak return. It was valid for one month and this was the second day of validity. The barriers spat it out so the person attending the barriers checked the code which stated ticket expired. He was as confused a me, clearly the ticket had not expired. So he let me through. As you say, having something that can be checked by a person is much better.

Exactly the sort of reason I never consider using anything other than a physical human-intelligible ticket for anything. Then I can see what I've indisputably got, and so can anyone else.
 

Hadders

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Exactly the sort of reason I never consider using anything other than a physical human-intelligible ticket for anything. Then I can see what I've indisputably got, and so can anyone else.
Valid paper tickets are often rejected by ticket barriers for erroneous reasons.

The OP had a ticket that was able to be read by a human that was indisputably valid.
 

AlbertBeale

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Valid paper tickets are often rejected by ticket barriers for erroneous reasons.

The OP had a ticket that was able to be read by a human that was indisputably valid.

Yes, sometimes a paper ticket isn't accepted at a barrier - but a human can then read it; and the printed piece of card/paper is pretty definitive and doesn't require any arguments over the interpretation of weak or corrupted electronic signals, or other glitches, and so on. A physical ticket always provides me with the total security which any other method wouldn't.
 

skyhigh

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Yes, sometimes a paper ticket isn't accepted at a barrier - but a human can then read it; and the printed piece of card/paper is pretty definitive and doesn't require any arguments over the interpretation of weak or corrupted electronic signals, or other glitches, and so on. A physical ticket always provides me with the total security which any other method wouldn't.
Maybe. An open/period return for example- a paper ticket, if not accepted by the barrier could be argued by staff as already used on a previous date. An eticket however, the scan record is clearly visible to any member of staff with an appropriate device so it's clear if it has already been used.
 

Deafdoggie

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Yes, sometimes a paper ticket isn't accepted at a barrier - but a human can then read it; and the printed piece of card/paper is pretty definitive and doesn't require any arguments over the interpretation of weak or corrupted electronic signals, or other glitches, and so on. A physical ticket always provides me with the total security which any other method wouldn't.


I trust you've never been through the barriers at Euston or Blackpool North with a paper ticket! The staff will reject it if the barriers do.
 

Bletchleyite

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I trust you've never been through the barriers at Euston or Blackpool North with a paper ticket! The staff will reject it if the barriers do.

This is categorically not true at the suburban platforms. The only other platforms to be gated at Euston are 1-3 - they were all meant to be being done but the project has stalled for some reason. The Avanti staff do have a reputation for rejecting valid tickets (e.g. Condition 14 non-stop splits), but I very much doubt they would reject a ticket just because the magstripe didn't work.
 

Wolfie

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I trust you've never been through the barriers at Euston or Blackpool North with a paper ticket! The staff will reject it if the barriers do.
Then the TOC would be refunding any charges made or find themselves in Court.
 

Deafdoggie

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This is categorically not true at the suburban platforms. The only other platforms to be gated at Euston are 1-3 - they were all meant to be being done but the project has stalled for some reason. The Avanti staff do have a reputation for rejecting valid tickets (e.g. Condition 14 non-stop splits), but I very much doubt they would reject a ticket just because the magstripe didn't work.
I might have been a bit tongue in cheek
 

plugwash

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I trust you've never been through the barriers at Euston or Blackpool North with a paper ticket! The staff will reject it if the barriers do.
Last time I passed through Euston my ticket was rejected by the barriers and I was let through manually. Think it was platform 2.

No idea why it was rejected, it was a bank holiday but i'm pretty sure I was travelling at a time when the ticket would have been valid even on a normal weekday. Maybe the barriers don't know about cambridge north or something.
 

323235

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I trust you've never been through the barriers at Euston or Blackpool North with a paper ticket! The staff will reject it if the barriers do.

I've yet to have the experience of Blackpool North staff rejecting my ticket when the barriers do personally but if they did then you can be sure I would make a big deal about it.
 

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