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First Hants and Dorset offer refunds if they are 20 minutes late
IF WE are late, you will get your money back.
That is the extraordinary pledge from a Hampshire bus firm if passengers are left waiting for their service.
First Hants and Dorset will invite customers to claim a refund in travel vouchers if their bus is more than 20 minutes late, more than one minute early – or if it has failed to operate at all.
On one service it will pay out if a bus is five minutes late.
Now campaigners say they would like to see this offer provided by other public transport operators.
Denis Fryer of the South Hampshire Rail Users Group said some rail operators in the country provide a refund after delays of 30 minutes, while others will not hand out any refund unless the service is more than an hour late.
“I think half an hour would be reasonable. It’s still quite a long time to wait. A lot of journeys rely on connections. After half-an hour it spirals upwards,” he said.
Bus users agreed with him.
Claire Smith, 21, from Shirley, Southampton, said: “They need to improve the service rather than only giving refunds. I think the trains should do it too. My dad takes the train to work every day and they are late a lot.”
First Hants and Dorset now has a customer charter promising to keep customers informed about its services and any changes to timetables or services.
But the author of the charter, regional customer services manager Natacha Tagholm, said: “The type of instances where we would pay out would be if we failed to operate a bus because it broke down or a driver called in sick.
“Clearly, these are events that we have some control over and it is right that we should be held accountable for them if things go wrong.
“We would not pay out though if the cause of a delay were severe bad weather, a road accident or roadworks – where the cause of the problem is clearly beyond our control.”
On this line, First will pay a refund if a bus is more than five minutes late, more than one minute early or fails to operate at all.
First’s charter also offers information about what to do if things go wrong, for instance any property lost on a bus, or complaints.
Copies of claim forms are available at First’s travel shops and at firstgroup.com/hampshire from Friday.