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.