The DRS Blog

Announcement - Response to ABC Commuters: 04 May 2018

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to address the recent problems being experienced by Southern’s passengers in trying to claim their statutory entitlement to compensation for train delays, purportedly because of Delay Repay Sniper’s involvement. 

First and foremost, we want to make clear that DRS are not doing anything wrong by assisting passengers claim their rightfully due compensation for train delays they have experienced. We simply provide the data to our customers (train passengers) to corroborate their personal experiences of train delays, as well as the facility to allow our customers to submit their claims to the train operators for compensation easily and quickly.  Perhaps ironically, if TOC websites had the functionality provided by DRS in the first place, there would be no need for our services at all. 
By way of background, The National Rail Conditions of Travel set out the terms relating to a passenger's ticket, and the minimum level of service passengers can expect. This is where passengers can find their legal rights in respect of train journeys. It sets out the minimum levels of compensation for train delays, and passengers can claim for compensation under those Conditions. Passengers can also claim for compensation through the courts pursuant to their statutory rights. 
Train operators separately have their own Passenger Charter that sets out their service commitments to passengers. Most train operators now subscribe to the Delay Repay Scheme which sets out a commitment from train operators to pay enhanced compensation. Passenger Charters do not affect passenger's legal rights, referred to above. 
In this instance the section in Southern’s Passenger Charter relating to Delay Repay states Southern will not accept claims from a third party unless there are mitigating circumstances they are told about. This seems sensible and provides for circumstances where a parent is making a claim on behalf of a child whose journey has been delayed.  
However, what we believe is happening with Southern is that they are seeking to extend the meaning of ‘third party’ to cover our involvement, and refusing to honour genuine claims from passengers who Southern suspect are using our service to facilitate submission of their claims. In our view this is wrong. 
We are also aware of Southern accusing passengers of submitting fraudulent applications and demanding the passenger refunds 30% of all compensation received, with the threat that the passenger's account will remain frozen and further claims not processed unless and until this demand is paid - in some cases this results in demands for over £500.  Naturally, DRS do not condone any fraudulent claims and it is only right for Southern to take action.  However, we firmly believe Southern should not be restricting passengers from using our service to make genuine claims as we are not making claims on their behalf as a third party. 
We collect and analyse publically available data on delays, which is produced by Network Rail on a daily basis. We then email relevant data to our customers in a relevant and easy-to-understand way, according to their journey. Our customers value this service as it relieves them of the considerable burden to remember and record which train was delayed and by how much, on top of everything else they have going on in their lives. As you will be aware, depending on the operator, delays can be a daily occurrence and therefore difficult to track with any degree of accuracy and making multiple individual claims on a regular basis is a task that DRS simplifies.  

We want to stress here that at no stage are any claims made by us either automatically on behalf of our customer without their authority or knowledge, or in our own name on behalf of our customers. Customers have to positively select the train they were delayed on or impacted by and our application acts on this instruction.  

We do not make any determination as to the validity of a claim, but clearly we do not condone fraudulent activity. Assuming the claim is then accepted by the operator, the compensation is paid directly to the passenger. We do not charge commission according to the number of claims, or the amount of compensation received – this would be against the spirit of the service we provide which is simply to aid genuinely delayed passengers.  

We hope this clarifies what we do, how we help train passengers and why we think Southern are wrong in their current approach and engagement with passengers.  

As at the time of writing, we have not received any correspondence from Southern setting out their concerns and we are not aware of Southern responding to your invitation for a statement on this issue. It goes without saying we would welcome the chance to have a constructive dialogue with Southern (and any other train operator) on this issue. If fraud is the primary concern for Southern it is certainly something we would like to help solve especially if it is impacting our ability to help genuinely delayed passengers. 

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