I went to book some train tickets for this weekend on the trainline.com. There are a series of hidden costs; First you have to uncheck the boxes for optional travel insurance from Columbus at the riduculous cost of £1 per journey. This cost is ridiculous because you have to be delayed by four hours before you can claim anything, and you'll be covered by your household/travel insurance for most of it anyway.
Then you move on to the payment screen. There is a £1 charge for postage. Fair enough, that's a bit steep for an envelope and stamp, but cheaper than most ebay sellers. But what if I'm prepared to collect the tickets myself? Well then you pay a £1 ticket arrangement fee. WTF! This fee wasn't applicable when they were being posted, but now I'm doing all the leg work myself there's a different charge. Effectively this £1 is a trainline.com tax. But their taxes to not stop there.
Next there is a £2.50 Credit Card fee. Why is this? There is no charge for debit cards, so why credit cards? Unusually I'm not being facetious, I am genuinely interested if there is a real reason for this. But I doubt there is an argument that can stand up in the face of the fact that you will not be charged a credit card fee if you buy the tickets in person from the counter.
I am fully aware that the trainline is not the only company to do this. Another pet peeve of mine is Odeon cinemas. They charge a 50 pence "card handling fee", again a totally nonsense charge that you do not pay if you turn up in person. However this charge is made all the more nonsensical when despite it's implication that it is for handling the payment, it is charged per ticket. 4 tickets, one payment, but four card handling fees. Hmmm.
I'm sure that the costs companies more to sell tickets in person that via automated call centres, or on the internet, so it would be understandable to pay a premium for the personal service, but to pay more for the cheaper service is a nonsense.
Anyway, I decided I was not going to pay a £3.50 tax to buy my tickets on line, so I decided I would get them in person at Bath Spa station on my way home. I arrived at 7.30 and there were two windows open at the ticket office. Both were devoid of customers. However I was told that I could only buy tickets for that day. Or tomorrow. But not Saturday. Why not? Apparently the advance ticket windows are only open until 7 pm. It used to be that then one of the windows would become "All Tickets", but now there is no room for flexibility. Even when there are two people serving, and just one person to serve.
I suppose they want people to go on-line and pay the outrageous tax.