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Change & No-Go at National Express over flexible ticket refund

<span>Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

I was very interested to read last month’s letter about National Express refusing a full refund of a “flexible” ticket. I have a similar issue. When I bought a ticket from Heathrow to Southampton, I paid £5 extra for the Change & Go add-on, which promises “complete flexibility” if you miss your departure.

I did miss my departure, but when I tried to transfer my ticket to the next available coach, the agent insisted Change & Go was only valid for changes made to bookings before departure. I had to buy another ticket, and was charged £10 more than if I’d bought on the app.

MR, Southampton

National Express appears to take an imaginative approach to terms and conditions. Last month, it told a customer who had to cancel a “fully flexible” ticket that the £144 supplement he had paid for extra luggage was non-refundable.

The ticket terms made no mention of the exemption, but only after I pointed this out did the company backtrack and agree to reimburse extra luggage fees in future.

The small print in your case is equally unambiguous. A Change & Go allows travellers to switch for free to a later departure if they miss their coach. However, you were only refunded and offered a voucher for a free ride after I again confronted National Express. It says: “The passenger should have been allowed to travel and was advised incorrectly. We have apologised and provided a full refund. We have also issued a reminder to staff at Heathrow about the terms of Change & Go.”

Meanwhile …

KF of London was encouraged to read National Express’s pledge last month that extra luggage supplements will now be included in refunds of a flexible ticket. She had paid £32 in luggage fees, but when she had to cancel her journey and applied for a refund online, the website stated fees were non-refundable. “I referred customer service to your article, and was swiftly refunded the luggage fee,” she writes. “National Express seems to be banking on customers not knowing about their new policy.”

National Express told me it had updated its terms and conditions and sales information to reflect the fact that extra luggage fees are included in flexible ticket refunds. “Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to claim the refund online so customers need to contact our contact centre to request this,” it says. “Our system is currently being updated to allow online refunds and once testing is complete, we expect this to be in place by August.”

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