The East Coast Delay Repay scam

One of the tiring things in life is the way that everyone is trying to pull a fast one. East Coast Main Line operates a Delay Repay scheme that promises to repay ‘100% of the cost of a return ticket’ if you’re delayed by more than two hours. As you can probably guess, this isn’t exactly the case.

The Delay Repay information page promises:

Customers delayed on East Coast services for 120 minutes or longer will receive compensation of at least 100% of the cost of a single ticket or at least 100% of the cost of a return ticket (i.e. both ways, not just one way).

Thus, when my train to Edinburgh was cancelled at Newcastle due to extreme weather, and I arrived about 14 hours late, I was looking forward to getting £105.65 back from East Coast. I filled in the form and sent it off.

A week or so later, I received a refund for £58.15, i.e. only for the outbound leg of the journey.

But I’d bought a return ticket, I thought. The website described it as a return journey. The confirmation email described it as a return journey:

Ticket type: EC First Advance Valid on chosen train only. Non refundable. Changeable for a fee. No access to 1st Class Lounge.
Route: East Coast & other TOC connecting services.
Return journey: 1 Jul 2012
departs Edinburgh at 14:00 travel by Train service provider East Coast to station London Kings Cross arrives 18:43

I wrote to them. They didn’t reply. So I phoned them, and they explained the scam to me: If you buy a ‘return’ ticket via East Coast’s website, they tell you that it’s a return journey, but they actually sell you two single tickets, ensuring that they’ll never actually have to pay out on the return ticket repayment promise.

Oh, and they don’t repay you in cash, but in Rail Travel Vouchers in blocks of £25, which you can’t use anywhere except in a station or travel agent, and which you can’t get change from. But that’s another issue.


  1. Craiggy

    Wrote at 2012-09-28 17:28 UTC using Chrome 21.0.1180.89 on Mac OS X:

    They did this to me about ten years ago.

    I was, wrongly on their part, forced to pay £98 penalty on a trip from Brighton to Edinburgh. I had been assured my ticket was valid on the day and train I was travelling on but the guard thought differently and forced me to pay the extra £98.

    I wrote to them to complain and they admitted the guard was in error and that I would be getting a refund. Cool, I thought, until they refunded me in vouchers for only train travel with them! They would not back down nor admit that since the error was theirs, didn’t they think I ought to get a full cash refund? No, they didn’t. No chance.

    They are a bunch of lying, thieving shitbags and I’m sick of corporate scams like this. They are endemic … and East Coast Mainline are one of the dodgiest of the lot.
  2. Noah

    Wrote at 2012-11-05 20:05 UTC using Safari 8536.25 on Mac OS X:

    East coast sucks….I was robbed too…trains never run on time.always delays you need to put up with.I took a 07:20 train instead of a 07:30 train by mistake to the same destination and I was charged 114 pounds for a single.the earlier night I paid up the same price for a 07:20 train and since I was not on the right train although going to the same direction..they ripped my pockets…but when their trains are cancelled they force us to use the next available train. Bunch of loosers….wifi sucks big time..never gets connected…morning breakfast never available on the train…gosh… These guys need to get a life…stop feeding on hapless customers…
  3. the hatter

    Wrote at 2012-11-12 19:46 UTC using Opera 9.80 on Mac OS X:

    I thought the wording is pretty clear when you buy a ticket on EC’s own site – it might be cheaper to buy two singles (as they’re generally heavily restricted in terms of what train you can use). The ticket type selector lets you choose to see singles-priced journeys with different restrictions for each leg, or a return where outgoing and return have tied restrictions. I guess this is the down-side of taking the cheapest options, but you may save more than you lose in refunds unless you’re unlucky with many broken trains. It also seems that paying extra for a proper return will let you claim more than 100% of your ticket price back if one leg is delayed 2+ hours and the other is delayed > 30 mins.

    If you’re stuck with the vouchers still and are happy to take a slight hit on value, drop me an email and I can meet you in town somewhere and swap them for Real Cash Money™ – I can combine them with some I have for my next ticket. it does annoy me that I tend to have to pay some cash and some vouchers and make a trip to a station to buy them, and lose out on online rewards for the privilege.
  4. Laura

    Wrote at 2013-05-25 11:26 UTC using Firefox 21.0 on Windows 7:

    You can exchange national rail vounchers for cash as I have done so myself.
  5. Laura

    Wrote at 2013-05-25 11:27 UTC using Firefox 21.0 on Windows 7:

    at a railway station ticket office