Christmas misery for Railcard travellers thanks to weeks-long technical fault and customer service meltdown

20 December 2019

A technical glitch has left many train travellers without a Railcard for weeks on end in the run up to Christmas. 

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Train users have been unable to make Railcard purchases and in some cases have lost access to their digital Railcards following a technical fault.

On 28 November 2019, Railcard’s website underwent its biggest upgrade in seven years to "enable a much quicker, smoother buying process."

Railcard informed customers that they would not be able to buy, renew or request a replacement card on the site during the maintenance period. 

But shortly after the update completed, Railcard announced that it was 'experiencing issues' on the site.

Railcard tells Moneywise that "most issues have now been resolved" and any outstanding problems will be "fixed by the end of December or early in the new year."

While it would not confirm how many customers were affected, the firm says 99% of Railcard customers are not experiencing problems, and that 87,000 Railcards have been sold since the site update.

However, hundreds of angry customers have taken to social media to complain of lost railcards and long waits to get help from Railcard customer services. 

What do customers say?

Customers affected by the fault have been advised by Railcard to contact its customer service. But due to "high volumes" of contacts, many are still awaiting a response, sometimes for weeks. 

Ellyn Megicks, a 27-year-old nurse and railcard passenger, was left having to buy a second ticket after being unable to get through to Railcard customer services. 

"I had to replace my railcard on a new phone after my old one was stolen. I tried calling the customer services when the app didn't work and was stuck waiting for hours on the phone," she tells Moneywise

"Eventually I had to give up because I ran out of time. I was forced to buy a second full-price ticket to travel from London to Norwich without my railcard. I was later told I could claim back the difference, but I'm still waiting for an email to get a refund."

Many more customers have expressed concerns in interactions with Railcard on Twitter about not having a railcard ready in time for their journey: 

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Many customers are still waiting to get a reply from Railcard: 

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What to do if you're having issues with Railcard

Railcard tells Moneywise that it has a dedicated teams working 24/7 to answer customer queries. 

A spokesperson says: "We do not want anyone to be left out of pocket and are responding to all customers individually as quickly as possible."

Railcard is also advising front line rail staff to accept Railcard proof of purchase (such as email confirmations) while the remaining issues are being resolved. 

This is to help all Railcard customers who have experienced problems downloading their their card after purchasing it.

Railcard are still advising customers to contact their customer service via their helpline 0345 3000 250, email: railcardhelp@nationalrail.co.uk or on their Twitter or Facebook pages. 

If you are having trouble buying a Railcard online and are due to travel shortly, you can buy most one-year Railcards at any staffed National Rail ticket office. 

When applying in the station you’ll need to provide a passport-sized photo alongside your application form.

For age-specific Railcards such as the 16-25 Railcard and the Senior Railcard, you’ll also have to provide one of the following forms of ID:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Passport (all nationalities accepted)
  • UK driving licence

The 16-17 Saver, 26-30 Railcard and the Disabled Persons Railcard cannot be purchased at a station. 

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