Back in the day I used to use a train tickets website called QueueJump. That was taken over by thetrainline.com and while underreported at the time, broke data protection laws as a result by porting QueueJump’s database directly to thetrainline.com without ever notifying users that this would be done as part of the takeover (notice of the takeover was given to users by e-mail). I know they transferred the database because I could login to thetrainline.com with my QueueJump details and see all my information there without ever having registered.
Still my issue really isn’t about the data protection problem. thetrainline.com run a secure site and I started using them for tickets and was a happy customer, until recently when they decided to start charging for everything under the sun.
If I pay for tickets and elect to collect them rather than having them posted, you would imagine I’d pay for just the tickets right? Wrong. With thetrainline.com you are charged £1 for having your tickets posted (fair enough) or 50p for collecting them from the machine. So hang on then, my ticket didn’t really cost £44 did it? No, because if I’d just paid £44 I wouldn’t have been able to get my mitts on the damn thing. The actual ticket price was £44.50.
Sadly this covert thievery doesn’t stop here, or at least it has started not to in recent weeks. Whereas previously, after having consented to be robbed of 50p you would be able to pay for the tickets with your debit card and be done with it, they have now started to charge 50p for paying with a debit card (note the words “debit card” – credit cards historically have always come with a charge, debit cards have not). So now the actual cost of my ticket had reached £45. Again, if I’d decided not to pay the 50p for card fee, I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on the tickets which they claim only cost £44. So in fact these £44 tickets actually cost a minimum of £45.
Now you might argue that an extra pound on a £44 ticket is not that much of a surcharge, and I guess I’d agree with you, I make it a little over 2%, but the serious problem arises if your ticket costs less than that because the surcharges are actually static. So if I travel to York and book in advance, as I regularly do, my £5.50 ticket with a young persons rail card will actually cost £6.50, a staggering 18% surcharge!
I am shocked and appalled at the way these charges are being levied on customers. If a retailer is feeling the pinch, they should increase their prices, not keep them the same and then sting the customer at the end of their transaction with a whole bunch of surcharges to make up for their losses. There ought to be a law against this kind of thing.
It occurs to me as I finish this post that there may in fact be a law against this kind of thing. If there is, can someone let me know so I can report these thieves.