Can I get money back on my railcard and commuter pass?

Dear Iona,

I purchased a Young Persons Railcard a week before lockdown and haven't used it, since the Government's advice has been not to make unnecessary journeys. Can I claim a refund?
Paul, 19
Student
I signed up to Commuter Club to save money on my season pass, as I have to travel into Central London everyday for work. Now that I'm having to work from home, I have asked CC for a refund but have been told I need to pay £20 to speed up the process. How can this be right?
Tash, 27
Journalist

Dear Paul and Tash,

Firstly, the situation with railcards is up in the air.

The government took over the rail franchise in March so it currently has responsibility over fares – and indeed railcards. It will be up to the Department for Transport to decide whether to refund railcards or – much more likely – allow anyone with active railcards to extend them by  a few months once the crisis abates.

It shouldn’t be that hard. For instance, ticket inspectors could be asked to accept all railcards that are less than three or four months past their expiry date. In the case of millennial railcards, however, the apps hosting them would have to be reprogrammed, as they automatically shut down once the railcard ends (as I found to my horror on a rail journey past my expiry date earlier this year!)

Transport Focus is lobbying for just that so hopefully common sense will prevail. Paul, I would wait until we are further along the track (no pun intended) and see what happens.

Onto your complaint Tash…

In the good times, Commuter Club allows people to pay off their annual season ticket in a more affordable monthly loan. Tash, you found this very useful for your otherwise expensive season ticket. But it has now become a white elephant.

Irina Iovita, chief Commuter Club told Young Money Blog:
“We have voluntarily waived the industry-standing £10 cancellation charge and continued to offer free cancellation within 30 days to all our customers. However, in response to some customers asking for faster processing, we introduced an optional express service with a £20 one-off charge to cover some of the additional staff and financing costs needed to deliver that service at a time of considerable financial losses.
 
The mass cancellations of season tickets caused by the COVID-19 lockdown has led to our industry processing an estimated 400,000 tickets since March. As a small company representing 3% of the season ticket market, we have been faced with processing over 6,600 cancellations in the past two months – 50 times more than usual.
 
“70% of cancellations have been processed within 7 days of a customer providing proof of an invalidated ticket, compared with just 44% for the industry as a whole. Our average processing time is 9 days, with 80% of cancellations processed within that time and 90% within 30 days. Fewer than 4% of customers have queried their cancellation outcome.”
I hope this helps, Tash and Paul, and if you have a question you’d like me to answer, get in touch – readers@youngmoneyblog.co.uk.
 

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