First was Last
February 13, 2010 7:55 AM   Subscribe

UK transportation: local bus was c. 25 mins late and made me miss an airport bus. The only alternative, a Taxi, cost me £100. Do I have a right for/chance of a refund?

This all happened on 17 December, before snow struck South England: fine weather, 2:00 p.m. The local bus is supposed to come every ten minutes, but only came after (earliest) 25. The trip to the centre is another 25 minutes or so. I missed the airport connection by just a few minutes (in other words, I had been counting on a total travel time of 50 minutes, including a worst-case 15-minutes safety margin). I sent the company (First, in Southampton) full documentation about the incident and a polite letter per snail mail, and they don't answer.
My question is: does someone know, on the basis of experience or profession, whether it is worth my time and sanity to pursue this matter any further?
(Obviously, an amount of £100 isn't trivial, but no catastrophe either. I want to be kind to myself and the world. If the consensus is to let go, I'll let go. And, yes, next time around I'll go into town earlier)
posted by Namlit to Travel & Transportation around United Kingdom (13 answers total)
Unless they somehow guarantee the connection times, then no my advice is to let it go. There is most likely a section on their website where it explains what they are and are not liable for and schedules, to the best of my knowledge, are just not something that public transportation companies are responsible for. Once in Boston when I got a red line that was 90 minutes late [!] I was told that I was eligible for one free trip. I wrote a letter and got [not joking] a token in the mail. The rest of your travel plans are not the company's concern. By your own admission you had a 15 minute safety margin which you just missed. A bus being 15 minutes late, while lousy, should not scuttle your plans. Better luck next time and sorry about this I know its frustrating as hell.
posted by jessamyn at 8:02 AM on February 13, 2010

No. Total waste of time. They don't guarantee departure or arrival times. 15 minutes is not long enough margin in a country renowned for tardy public transport.
posted by Brockles at 8:06 AM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Let it go. About the only time people are successful claiming compensation (beyond the cost of the ticket) from public transit carriers in case of late or canceled services is when they get stranded after the last bus or train of the night.
posted by grouse at 8:07 AM on February 13, 2010

Timetables only being a vague indication on when you might expect a bus/train or whatever to turn up.....just put it down to lessons learned...
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:01 AM on February 13, 2010

Look at it this way. On an important trip, you gave yourself 15 minutes leeway exactly. The bus comes every 10 minutes, which means you were prepared to wait 10 minutes if you'd just missed the last one. So 15 minutes later, you are out of luck. Your plan was always cutting it too close.

Seriously, you chalk this up to life lesson and understand how to not put yourself in a similar situation in the future.

And to explicitly answer your question, you would not deserve a refund under these circumstances.
posted by qwip at 9:39 AM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

A McGill professor here in Montreal filed a suit in small claims court against the Société de Transport de Montréal because the bus didn't come, he had to take an expensive cab ride, and he was late to work. They settled with him out of court for his $40 cab fare.

I had previously only heard about this by word of mouth. By googling this to link here and actually reading the story, I found out that this professor is the very same one who emailed me yesterday and told me he had no idea how much I would be paid for an RAship I've been doing for weeks and that he is in charge of, and further, it would probably be ages before I got paid. Small world. Full of coincidences.
posted by nosila at 9:49 AM on February 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

Unless the connection was part of a single journey set up by the airline, or you had travel insurance to cover this kind of thing then

Otherwise - not worth the trouble.
posted by TravellingDen at 1:24 PM on February 13, 2010

Thanks, all answers much appreciated. That settles it, then. I'll spend my energy someplace else.
posted by Namlit at 1:57 PM on February 13, 2010

Just in case anyone comes across this question in a search:

For the UK, there is a compensation scheme for train travel. What with the many different companies operating the trains (TOCs) the details are slightly different.
But the rough rule of thumb is you are entiled to a partial refund if your train is over one hour late at your destination station.
posted by 92_elements at 2:37 PM on February 13, 2010

You may be able to claim on your travel insurance, assuming a) you have any, b) were travelling abroad or staying a certain number of nights away from home and c) have better than bog-standard travel insurance.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 4:38 PM on February 17, 2010

Update 9 March 2010. "First" now wrote me a polite letter, acknowledging that a bus dropped out at the time I indicated, and admonishing me "to leave enough time when making journeys". However, they are sending me £ 21 as a "gesture of good will". Seen the tenor of the comments above and some off-thread conversations, I find this a generous solution. Thanks everyone for their input.
posted by Namlit at 6:08 AM on March 9, 2010

Thanks for the follow-up, that's quite interesting.
posted by jessamyn at 12:23 PM on March 9, 2010

I have complained to First in Southampton two or three times, and usually got compensation from them in vouchers (which some of their staff are confused by and don't accept, but that's a different issue).
posted by paduasoy at 5:52 PM on May 27, 2010

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