The great First Capital Connect compensation lottery
You're on a train, in a carriage with a couple of dozen other members of the public. Unless the carriage has dividers to create a first class section, then you're all enjoying the class of travel. Despite the fact you may have all paid different amounts for your ticket, or that some may hold a seasonal pass, you'll be treated the same by the conductor and staff. And if the train is delayed, then you're all delayed.
Common sense, of the bleeding obvious variety. So what happens if the train is delayed and you then apply for compensation? Would you expect some sort of consistency in how claims are met, or would it depend on your age, sex, address or some other random criteria nobody told you about?
Welcome to the world of First Capital Connect. Over to avid Bitterwallet reader Olly, who picks up the story:
A few weeks back myself and my girlfriend were in London celebrating a friend's departure for sunnier climes (well, Bristol) on Saturday night. We got the train back to St Albans where we live and en route ended up getting stuck just inside a tunnel and then evacuated off a train. What should have been a 40 minute journey ended up taking 4 hours.
We're both Annual Season Ticket holders so we both applied for a refund. However, I did mine a couple of days later, and it appears that First Capital Connect had a change of heart in between doing my girlfriend's compensation and mine. She was awarded £25, I got nothing other than the obligatory refund.
In fact, First Capital Connect goes to great lengths to explain the reasons for the delay to Olly's girlfriend, before providing a refund and a £25 bonus:
As for Olly, they couldn't be bothered to explain the cause of the delay, or offer the bonus (the discrepancy in the minimum payout is because Olly doesn't have a travelcard, whereas his girlfriend does):
"I've asked First Capital Connect why the discrepancy - we were both, after all, stuck on the same train for the same amount of time," says Olly. "As yet, ten days later, I've not had a response."