Bonum Certa Men Certa

When Electronic (or Digital) is Objectively Worse

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Apr 05, 2024,
updated Apr 05, 2024

Old Wooden Radio with some Books on a side, Spider Web in a corner

And the case of Trainline

AT moderate risk of sounding like a grumpy ol' man, as a child I was able to approach people, as in face-to-face situations, and sort out disputes or issues. Later they gave people phone numbers and over time even the phone numbers mostly led to voice menus. In recent times they keep telling you some Web site URL while you wait and wait.

Resolving disputes has become hard because of a lack of human contact, not just in the physical sense. You get thrown into some callcentres of 'ticket mills' wherein each person you speak to is new and unfamiliar with your case. You therefore need to explain the same things over and over again.

Case of point?

Our train got canceled last Monday. Why? They didn't want to tell (at first), but eventually they admitted it was known for quite some time it would be canceled and nobody bothered to inform passengers who had booked tickets.

What followed was a request for a refund, but that too (as usual) was a familiar ordeal, so I decided to document this today.

Had the tickets been purchased at the station (like in the old days), we'd physically get the refund on the spot, rather than having to escalate to a manager who insists we must do it all "online". After speaking to 4 people on the day (of the cancellation) - speaking as in face to face - we needed to do E-mail back and forth about a dozen times. So "modern", eh?

Nowadays there are times you cannot even purchase tickets at the stop/station as there is no staff there. PROGRESS!

Now we have two irritated customers, 4 members of staff spending time on it, and maybe another 4 at the customer disservice centre. Total 10 people? How do these companies define "productivity"? Time getting nothing done?


Trainline pretty much hides essential contact details. Its site does not help you find who to contact, instead trying to herd you into spyware ("apps"). I had to sign for some online service just to contact Trainline by proxy. I had to provide personal details to this proxy. Was this going to work? Would I receive the refund quickly? No.

And moreover, now some third party has some personal details of mine as well. Reward for companies trying to deny/obscure access to contact details?

Two people at our end were needed and even a reconfiguration of the E-mail client. What a hassle. Redacted trail of communications below:

Our train was canceled and Northern Rail, where we spoke to 3 people including a manager, told us that you basically sold us an invalid ticket for as route that was already canceled (due to works around Wigan) and thus we're entitled to a full refund. We canceled our trip to xxxxxxxx, after consulting station staff. Can you reschedule the same journey for another holiday (when we take a day off work)?


Dear Roy, Good Morning to you. I understand your concern about refund . Please do not worry , we are here for your assistance. May I please have the 12 digit transaction id number to check and assist you further as there are no bookings under your existing email address. Awaiting your response. Kind Regards,


Payment information

Transaction ID:


Transaction Date:

17 March 2024

Invoice number:




Hello Roy,

Thank you for contacting Trainline, Hope you are doing well.

I understand your concern regarding the refund as the train was cancelled .Please accept our sincere apologize for the inconvenience you may have experienced with regards to cancellations.

Having searched under your e-mail address [xxxxx], I am unable to locate the booking you have quoted in your e-mail. In order to comply with Identification and Verification (Data Protection) Policies, I am not able to discuss any booking or passenger details with anyone else except for the person who has booked the ticket.

In order to progress with your enquiry:

• If you have used another e-mail address to make the booking, please contact us from it
• If you didn't make the booking yourself, please advise the person who did to contact us directly from the e-mail used for the booking.

Thank you for your understanding.

Kind regards,
Prince .

I passed this to my wife Rianne, whose E-mail was used to do the booking.


Hi, Prince,

I am Roy's wife, I booked as xxxxxx

See below the context



Hello Prince,

Thank you for contacting Trainline. I hope you are doing well.

Please elaborate your query so that I can help you accordingly. Once I receive a response, hopefully I will be be able to help you accordingly.

Awaiting your response.

Kind regards,


Prince is your colleague

You clearly did not bother reading the context below

Please do

See xxxxxx

Trainline: (still calling her "Prince", which is actually a Trainline colleague)

Hello Prince,

Thank you for your email response.

I understand that your are looking for a refund on the cancelled journey. I apologize for the cancellation and I will certainly help you with the refund.

On reviewing the booking details under the reference ID: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, I see that the booking is made using different email address.

In order to comply with Identification and Verification (Data Protection) Policies I request you to contact us with the registered email address.

Thank you for understanding.

Kind regards,

So she had to reconfigure Thunderbird to use an alias.


> Policies I request you to contact us with the registered
> email address.


xxxxxxxxxxxxx is
same as xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I am now using

I needed to step in because they were slow and it was already taking over 3 days to get the refund a station manager assured us we would get:

My wife responded already!

Be sure to check your TICKETING system (xxxxx).

You already ruined out holiday by selling invalid tickets.

Do not ruin our week too!

The E-mail headers reveal they use something called Freshdesk with Freshworks in place of real E-mail, which might explain why they're unable to properly cope with context and they always top-post. One has to repeat oneself even in E-mail, not just over the telephone. That's irritating and discourages even bothering in the future.


Dear Rianne,

Thank you for contacting Trainline. I hope you are doing well.

I understand your concern regarding a refund and would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused because of service cancellation. Please be assured I am here to help you in the best way.

On reviewing your journey details under the transaction ID: xxxxxx , I can see your journey is from Manchester Piccadilly to Lancaster on Mon, 01 Apr 2024 (returning on the same day).

On checking the service cancellation for your journey, I can verify that your outward service was cancelled. In accordance to this, I request you to kindly confirm if you travelled on any alternative service using the same ticket purchased from Trainline or if you abandoned your journey.

Awaiting your response.

Kind regards,
Eliphia- Customer Service Representative


As my husband explained, and it is ridiculous we need like 10 emails back and forth to get this refund, no - the station manager said we should demand the full refund from you

Today is Friday. The canceled train was Monday. This is still unresolved.

In summary, I had to sign up in some site to be able to find contact details, E-mail clients had to be modified, two people at our end needed to get involved, we spoke to 4 people at the station, and above there are about 10 messages back and forth - and still not solving the issue.

Welcome to the "modern" world. It is SO MUCH easier!

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