The Consumer’s complaint was regarding a Delay Repay claim, which was incorrectly automatically rejected. The Consumer submitted an appeal through the prescribed process and the claim was paid. They stated that this caused further inconvenience and wanted the RSP to amend the system so that it does not reject valid claims.
The Consumer was seeking for the RSP to correct the automated system or manually review all Delay Repay claims on Advance tickets. They were advised that the Rail Ombudsman could not enforce a change in policy, and therefore reiterated that the RSP should amend the website signage. They also requested that the RSP to review all of their previously un-appealed claims on Advance purchase tickets but was advised that the Rail Ombudsman could only consider this incident in isolation.
What the Ombudsman did
The Ombudsman mediated between the parties in an attempt to get an explanation which would satisfy the Consumer. However, the parties could not reach agreement, so the case required an Adjudication decision.
The Ombudsman reviewed the RSP’s Passenger Charter which explains how to claim, and the RSP’s website which provides information about how to appeal a rejected claim. The Consumer found and utilised this appeal process and received his entitlement for the delay. The Ombudsman noted the additional step required because an appeal was necessary, but this is a step which is clearly noted as part of the process, because it is recognised that some claims are incorrectly rejected. The result was that the Consumer received their Delay Repay within 20 working days, as per the Passenger Charter.
The Rail Ombudsman noted that the RSP had committed to further consideration of the Consumer’s comments about the Delay Repay Process and provided an alternative method of claiming to avoid the automated process. The suggestion to warn of automated rejection in some circumstances was considered, but it was found that the Delay Repay Appeal process, and the Passenger Charter did deal with this, so it was not considered proportionate to make a recommendation.
The Ombudsman found in adjudication that the complaint was handled promptly and the information was provided which included the additional steps the consumer needed to take in this instance to avoid detriment.
Advice to Consumers
The Rail Ombudsman encourages consumers to familiarise themselves with all of the available information and/or ask questions of the RSP at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure they are within any stated timescales. Of course, if the information is not found to be clear or, indeed, readily available, they can raise this direct with the RSP and at the appropriate time, escalate to the Rail Ombudsman for review.