Why is it taking so long to get my refund from Greater Anglia?

Published on: Tuesday, 5 May 2020
Last updated: Monday, 1 June 2020

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We have received an unprecedented number of requests for refunds – we’ve had over 25,000 requests since lockdown started and we’ve already processed over 15,000 of them. Many refunds are being processed within 28 days, but some are taking a bit longer, in which case, please bear with us and be patient. We’re working flat out to get your refund to you as soon as we can.

I’ve heard that you’re taking 56 days to process refunds, is this true?

We’re processing many refunds within 28 days. However, the Department for Transport has enabled the rail industry to increase the time period for customers to submit refund requests during lockdown to 56 calendar days, which has given more time to process these.

You’ve closed ticket offices down, so why don’t you deploy those staff to process refunds?

We have had to change most of our usual methods for processing refunds due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. We wanted customers to comply with the Government’s stay at home instructions, so we didn’t want to ask customers to go to ticket offices or post offices to apply for their refunds wherever possible. Our call centres were impacted as well, with one closing down altogether and another shifting to home working. We have deployed colleagues from other departments to work on processing refunds, from offices and stations across our network. Staff working from home can’t issue refunds, so our colleagues processing refunds have gone into work and worked long hours to get through the applications.
Please note, by the way, that ticket offices are only closed temporarily as a result of lockdown.

Why can’t I just ring up and get the cost of my ticket refunded onto my payment card there and then?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, especially when we’re dealing with annual season tickets which can cost several thousands of pounds. We must make sure that the person who bought the ticket is the person being refunded, and we also need to make sure that the ticket has either been returned or destroyed so it can no longer be used.
There are set procedures to be followed – these have been altered due to the impact of coronavirus – but they cannot be waived further as we need to make sure that all transactions are safe and secure.

I don’t really want a refund – I expect I’ll be returning to work and will need my season ticket then, so why can’t you just freeze it for the period of lockdown?

Many season ticket customers across the country, not just on the Greater Anglia network, asked this same question, and it’s something that the rail industry and Department for Transport seriously considered. However, due to the complexities of season tickets, it was not possible to easily make this adjustment, sorry.

Why can’t you just give me a refund for all of the days left on my season ticket?

Season tickets are a heavily discounted form of travel and the longer you buy a season ticket for, the bigger the discount you get. So, if you buy an annual season ticket, you are effectively getting 12 weeks free travel. We have to take this “free” element into account when calculating your refund. Otherwise, it would be possible to buy a ticket for longer than you intend to travel – maybe a year – travel for a shorter length of time – maybe two months – and then claim a refund. That way you would pay a much cheaper rate for two months than if you’d bought a season ticket for two months. Fraudulent refunds, like fraudulent delay repay claims and fare dodging, result in higher ticket prices for everyone. Of course, the vast majority of people using the railway are completely honest and would never do this, but regrettably as in all areas of life there are some bad apples and we have to guard against them.

Why do I have to pay a £10 admin fee on my season ticket refund? You must be making loads of money from all of those fees.

Season tickets are heavily discounted tickets. They are much more complicated to refund than any other ticket. The rail industry and the Department for Transport as a whole looked at removing the admin fee, but the decision was made to keep it in place. We are definitely not making money from issuing season ticket refunds. We’ve devised new online procedures for refunds and deployed extra colleagues to process the unprecedented number of season ticket refund requests that we’ve received.

Why don’t you at Greater Anglia just listen to your customers and do what’s best for us, why do you follow the rest of the “rail industry”?

We do listen to our customers and we care very much about what you say and we try our best to act on it. However, Greater Anglia works alongside and in partnership with the rest of the rail industry and the Department for Transport. When it comes to fares and refunds, the industry needs to be consistent so that all customers across the whole of the UK are treated correctly and fairly, especially as we sell each other’s tickets. If each company had different rules for refunds, the situation would become incredibly complicated and more likely to result in mistakes.

Why is it so confusing to get a refund? I’ve looked at your website and I’m sure it’s full of contradictory advice.

There are so many different rail tickets, offering differing levels of discount for travel, and each of them has different terms and conditions, so we can understand how confusing it is for you. However, we’ve tried to simplify refund processes as much as possible, and to explain it as simply as possible on our website https://www.greateranglia.co.uk/contact-us/faqs/refunds/coronavirus-ticket-refund-update. We’ve been through our website and updated every page to make sure that all the information is consistent and correct, but if you think there’s a mistake, please let us know and we’ll correct it.
If you still find it confusing, please contact our Twitter team on @greateranglia or our customer contact centre [email protected]