The commuter strikes back

Ian Hunter seeks revenge for the tube stoppages in the queue for ticket refunds
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The Independent Online
London commuters suffering through this summer's rash of tube strikes will all know the feeling. As we jostle each other on crowded and sometimes wet pavements, hoping to grab the last standing place on a bus that will still be dropping us off a mile from home, one word is uppermost in many minds - retribution.

Yesterday's planned tube strike may have been called off, but that is scarcely compensation for the seven days of chaos which have been endured. Vengeance may be hard to achieve. But, as union and management negotiators finally reach a compromise, affected - or disaffected - commuters might consider venting at least a little of their frustration by exercising their right to claim a refund.

Normally the right to claim in respect of delayed or substandard services is governed by the Customer Charter. However the Charter does not cover industrial action.

Travellers have two options. They can either claim a refund or apply for an extension to their travelcard to cover the days when it was not possible to use it. Refunds can be applied for on an 'Application for refund on season ticket - industrial action' form, obtainable from booking offices.

Weekly, monthly and period season tickets are treated differently from annual tickets. The commuter should fill in the application form on the expiry of any of the foregoing.

London Underground warns: "The number of applications to be dealt with is considerable. Details of more than one ticket may be entered on the form and if you run out of space please ask for another one at the booking office." Now that the dispute has been settled the application forms should be handed in at the relevant booking office. The form will be submitted to the fares office for processing. A cheque should be sent to the aggrieved traveller in due course. However, for anyone used to those endless waits before a tube finally limps into view, London Underground cautions ominously: "In view of the anticipated number of claims there may be some delay." Although no specific time-frame is given for how long compensation will take to come through, it may be best to view this in terms of the length of time it usually takes for that upwards Northern Line escalator to be repaired.

Annual ticket refunds are processed in the same way save that it is sufficient for the commuter to submit a photocopy of the ticket with the application.

Who can tell if the total refund will be equal to the cost of one taxi journey home during the strike or the cost of a visit to the shoe repairer? Even so, if snatching a few pounds back from underground bosses is the best we can achieve, it still beats the hell out of a new phenomenon which has been sweeping through London - tube rage.

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