Tube Refund
iRefund

An iPhone app to put the fear of God into London Underground

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[UK] Anything that makes the form-filling associated with claiming a refund less tedious is a win for consumers. But it’s also a potential nightmare for governments and companies that provide the services we rely on. Les paper work, more claims.

Enter Tube Refund, an iPhone app that aims to significantly reduce the time and effort it takes to file for a refund for a delayed train journey on London’s Underground (metro).

The app utilizes the iPhone’s form filling functionality to complete the refund form and then submit it to London Underground’s website with “almost no work from the user”, after the initial set-up at least. A user’s main details are stored in the app so that to make a claim requires only a few extra details thereafter, such as the station and time of scheduled travel and when the actual train arrived. A delay of over 15 minutes on London Underground qualifies for a refund.

As well as making the form filling easier, Tube Refund could also help solve the problem of actually remembering to file the claim itself. Because the iPhone is carried with you, it’s arguably more likely that you’ll get around to submitting a claim as soon as you arrive or possibly during the actual journey.

The company behind Tube Refund says that there were approximately 1,996 delays across the tube network in 2009 (which works out to 38 delays a week), therefore the app, which costs 59p, could pay for itself pretty quickly.

A quick search in the iTunes App Store reveals that Tube Refund isn’t the only iPhone app to tackle this problem – iRefund (iTunes link) also does the same job, although appears to be getting less favorable user reviews.

  • http://www.joaobelo.co.uk Joao Belo

    An interesting approach to reducing bureaucracy. Hopefully it will make public services more aware of possible liabilities before doing something that has a negative impact on customers.

  • http://gocarshare.com Drummond

    What, the tube has a schedule they try and follow, this is news to me!

    • Bigboz

      Course it doesn’t. Drivers just turn up any time and take a train out. Miraculously there are no collisions.

    • Michael

      Same. I thought the trains just went round in a circle all day and the ‘schedule’ was when they happen to arrive.

    • http://hauntingthuder.demon.co.uk maurice

      news to me and a lot of tube users peple dont catch a tube by time its just turn up and go.

      A service for the trains might be more usefull.

  • fleetaj

    Ah, but will it make the tube better. After all this is the desired result, no? Or perhaps stop the runaway spending LU engages in every year. Maybe it will just bring them to their knees, but only if the 3 million daily users claim 38x a week…

  • http://james.cridland.net James Cridland

    I use the website refund form – it’s not hard to navigate.

    Of course, these refunds come out of TfL’s pocket, so they can’t invest in the lines and stations. The money comes out of the money that you and I spend on the network each week, and from the government grants that TfL gets. So, ironically, by requesting refunds you’re making the entire system worse and more expensive for everyone. Good job, Britain!

    • Ian T

      You don’t really think most of TfL’s budget *really* goes on investing in lines and stations, do you? Quite a large chunk goes to funding the guaranteed 26% profit margin of the highway robbers subcontracted to do the work under PPP, and that’s without the astounding bureaucracy of the organisation itself. As a taxpayer you’re screwed either way.

      • http://james.cridland.net James Cridland

        Irrelevant to the central argument which is: if we all claim for every single tube delay, TfL will have to pay out, and therefore will have less money to run its operation.

      • http://www.royfox.co.uk Roy

        Disagree with this logic. The argument appears to be that no public service can ever be held to account, since you are taking money that would have been used to provide the same service to others.

        If an individual journey is a disaster, claim for a refund. TFL has earned nothing for the trouble of transporting you, so obviously they want to improve their service so they don’t have to pay out refunds. If TFL are inundated with requests for refunds and are unable to improve their service sufficiently to avoid paying them, we haven’t created a problem – we’ve simply uncovered one that was already there.

    • http://www.twitter.com/julesmorgan Jules Morgan

      Worst. Logic. Ever.

    • Timmmmeh

      What a cock.

  • Kaye

    Don’t you have to prove that you were on a delayed tube to get a refund? How would you do this?

  • Brett Patterson

    James that a very simplistic way to look at it. They need to have accountability (otherwise known as incentive) to actually deliver the service that is intended to be delivered. Otherwise all the investment in lines and stations is not properly being utilised. This sort of thing can really aid planning and deliver a better more cost-effective service for everyone.

  • Rakesh

    I disagree. I really like this app. I think the tube service is undoubtedly shoddy. The fact that they have the cheek to make it so hard for you to make a claim infuriates me.
    I fail to believe they are spending enough of their profits on maintenance let alone improvement. I see most of my money going into the senior Exec’s pockets.
    Great app. Keeps them on their toes as far as I can see.

  • flexy

    @James Cridland
    Yawn, rubbish, meh! If people actually lodged these passenger charter refunds, TFL might actually be able to gauge the areas where investment needs to be channelled first – that is if any money actually does get spent on improvement work… A bit of technology that makes the process of lodging a refund easier is hardly to blame. Those who’ve spent 30 mins in a tunnel waiting for trains to start moving again will, unable to contact anyone, will know what I’m talking about.

  • Alec East

    I’ve got a soft spot for TfL and would push for a little temperance.

    On average they handle 6,000,000 journeys a day ( including cabs etc). That’s the entire population of Denmark every day.

    A few delays are inevitable so I try to plan ahead. Or maybe it’s just a London thing.

  • Afrah Lumumba

    James,

    It is our right to be refunded for a service we did not recieve.
    Lateness in the work place and stress also have knock on effects to the financial and physical health of the entire country.
    Accountability is the key to fixing everything.
    Its shocking that we have got used to paying for 7 day tube tickets for example but have virtualy no service for at least 2 days a week on many lines, particularly the Jubilee line on the weekend. Of course I should be refunded.
    We have to hold those responsible for causing and fixing the problem to task. Until we all start claiming refunds systematicly on mass then TFL will not have the targeted incentive they need to solve this particular problem.
    In the long run a more efficiently run operation will benefit everyone including the TFL’s profotability with more users.

    I will be g

    DOn’t you think.
    If everyone protested agaoinst the poor service recieved by London Underground

  • Afrah Lumumba

    Hi James,

    I understand your fears but in not applying for TFL refunds you are encouraging more shoddy service.

    In addition it is our right to be refunded for something we were promised and paid for but did not recieve.

    We should also remember that lateness in the work place and stress also have knock on effects to the financial and physical health of the entire country. We are not doing the country any favours by not claiming.

    Its shocking that we have got used to paying for 7 day tube tickets for example but have virtualy no service for at least 2 days a week on many lines, particularly the Jubilee line on the weekend. Of course I should be refunded.

    Accountability is the key to fixing everything.
    We have to hold those responsible for causing and fixing the problem to task. Until we all start claiming refunds systematicly on mass then TFL will not have the targeted incentive they need to solve this particular problem.
    In the long run a more efficiently run operation will benefit everyone including TFL’s profitability as it will encourage more users.

    I will be getting this iphone application for myself today and my teenage boys.

    The principle of refunds is correct and moral and this is an erfficient way of sticking with it so as to enable a better system for us all.

    Don’t you think you should take advantage of a cheap refund system that takes seconds to use???

    Regards
    Afrah

  • andy

    so how do you know if a tube train is late?

    • Erik

      Fairly simple – tube trains run on a published FREQUENCY, e.g. 10 trains per hour, which obviously works out at one train every six minutes. So, if you are waiting for a train to turn up for more than 21 minutes, then you claim….

      Or if you are stuch on a train in a tunnel for more than 15 minutes.

      SIMPLEZ…

  • http://www.babygenerator.org Tara

    I just checked and not surprisingly TubeRefund is still in business for anyone who was interested.

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