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Confused [userpic]

May 26th, 2008 (07:47 pm)

When did thetrainline.com become evil?

Damn you thetrainline.com! Who am I going to buy my rail tickets from now?

Edit: NXEC seem to have a low evil rating at the moment... (and seem to allow booking on non NXEC services, which is nice). I have to wonder if teh evil is just hiding somewhere out of sight.


Posted by: ocean_depths (ocean_depths)
Posted at: May 26th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)

The evil? How so? I used it the other day for a return London at £30 which is more than it used to be but still not toooo bad...

Posted by: Confused (confuseddave)
Posted at: May 27th, 2008 09:37 am (UTC)

1. They charge for credit cards - 50p for Maestro, but goes up to a whopping £2.50 for Visa - which is a bugger because Verified by Visa has arbitrarily banned me from using my debit card. Not much if you're paying £100, but for a £19 journey that's more than 10%.
2. They charge for all pickup options now, including printing it on a machine. This, I admit, is the least of their crimes, but I wish they didn't.
3. They automatically make you take insurance. Possibly it's encouraging you to be safe, more likely it's a cynical ploy. For £1, I severely doubt it covers much.
4. They masquerade under the front-end on another site - the Virgin Trains booking site is actually thetrainline.com. It's fairly innocuous, but for some reason it always raises my hackles, and reeks of a company selling itself under false pretenses. Sure, it doesn't affect me directly, but it's pretty good circumstantial evidence that they're evil.
5. They use Verified by Visa, which is a massive pile of shitty pigwank. I'm currently boycotting any site that uses VbV, partly because it's badly implemented third party crap that has managed to make itself utterly undistinguishable from phishing sites, and partly because it won't let me use my cards without having my bank phone me up concerned that I've been ripped off (and sometimes not at all).

Posted by: ocean_depths (ocean_depths)
Posted at: May 27th, 2008 10:16 am (UTC)

Oh yes, of course. I elected to have them delivered and thought nothing of it. Charging to use cards is ridiculous though, and as for VbV I'd have to say I agree but say I know nothing; and the insurance thing - it's normally an option at the bottom of the screen on step 3 - untick the boxes?

Posted by: Confused (confuseddave)
Posted at: May 27th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
Ceiling Cat

Insurance: I meant to say, this is a pretty mild thing, but I prefer my optional extras to be "opt in" rather than "opt out". "Opt out" extras smack of a way of making money out of people who aren't paying enough attention to untick the box.

You're right, it doesn't affect their service, but it is another hint that behind that cheerful facade, they've gone evil.

Posted by: M (ethelfleda)
Posted at: May 26th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)

... send girlfriend to Dundee station? They're very nice you know.

Posted by: Confused (confuseddave)
Posted at: May 27th, 2008 09:42 am (UTC)

I don't trust the guy at the station to get it right. I'm usually shopping for the least expensive fare, and I need a site that can show me automagically, rather than a guy who has to (by law) explain all of the possible options. Even if I chose the train with the best fare, it's possible that I'd be charged a standard fare rather than an available discount fare. I don't do well in verbal exchanges anyway, and add to the pressure that there's a bunch of people behind me that are late...

It'd be fine if it was just nipping down to Edinburgh for a day, but with long range journeys you frequently have ten options that cost £80 and one option that costs £20. It's pretty important to get that right. I used to wrestle with the ticket office at Sheffield station getting tickets home until I discovered thetrainline. It was a breath of fresh air at the time, which is why I'm so upset that they've turned to the arse side of the force.

Posted by: Behind Blue Eyes (chiv)
Posted at: May 26th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)

The guy who set it up has always been a bit of a geezer.
He started out by buying up large numbers of tickets on popular routes in advance, taking full advantage of the discount. He and his associates would then sell them on to commuters, usually on the platform or the train one carriage ahead of the conductor, at just below the going rate. Sort of the railway ticket tout.

Believe it or not, you can get most routes cheaper direct from one of the railway companies websites, with a bit of shopping around.

Posted by: Confused (confuseddave)
Posted at: May 27th, 2008 09:49 am (UTC)

I've done a comparison a couple of times now, and it looks like I can get exactly the same deals from NXEC as I can from thetrainline, even on routes that NXEC doesn't run - plus, the frontend is much nicer to use, much easier to search by fare, and the payment options are 95% less evil than thetrainline.

My current journey - Manchester to Dundee - has three changes, all on different companies, and costs £19, which is nearly the same as a single to Falkirk. Unique example perhaps, but you're not always cheaper to go to the original rail company. (In fact, none of these are NXEC, and I get the same fare through them. :)

That and the fact that I like having a single place I can go to get tickets.

Posted by: Rachel (magicalrachel)
Posted at: May 26th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)

What are they being evil about now? I know they've hiked up the prices for paying by card and actually getting your tickets recently, but I haven't had any other problems with them. :)

Posted by: Confused (confuseddave)
Posted at: May 27th, 2008 09:51 am (UTC)

See my first reply.

It's really the Verified by Visa crap that's sworn me off them, but when you add up all the other stuff (including card charges - £2.50 is really too much - and pickup costs) you start to see a pattern.

Posted by: Rachel (magicalrachel)
Posted at: May 27th, 2008 11:20 am (UTC)

Oh, that. I'd forgotten about that. This is mainly because I haven't bought anything from them for a while (I only bother buying my train tickets online now if it's really worthwhile, and it really hasn't been recently so I've been paying full price).

Anyone would think they wanted us to all just get cars.

Posted by: Madeleine (madelgine)
Posted at: May 27th, 2008 11:25 am (UTC)

Ah, so that's why you were put out. I must admit I was rather miffed myself when buying my tickets the other day. I don't buy train tickets online for a while, and when I do they've changed everything. At least you can uncheck travel insurance (late trains are inconvenience enough without faffing around trying to reclaim money that they probably won't give you anyway), and since my debit card works I only had to pay £1 extra, but still, it seems a bit miserly. At least the security thing assured me they would never ask for my full password.

I'm a bit put off Trainline, and Virgin's out of the question since the payment page gets borked for me-- I'll give NXEC a try next time. Or maybe-- shock horror--revert to Megabus.

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