The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about a refund because the Authority has offered to pay the money to the complainant.
- The complainant, whom I refer to as Ms X, says the Authority has not provided a refund after she incurred extra travel costs of £6.80 due to strikes.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if we believe:
- the Authority has provided a proportionate response, or
- the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I read the complaint and the replies from the Authority. I received a refund offer from the Authority. I considered comments Ms X made in response to a draft of this decision.
What I found
- Ms X says she incurred extra costs of £6.80 after rail strikes forced her to take an alternative route. She asked the Authority for a refund. The Authority referred her to National Rail who then referred her back to the Authority. The Authority again referred her back to National Rail.
- The Authority says it tried to call Ms X in January but was unable to do so. Ms X denies receiving a call and asks why the Authority did not call back or leave a message.
- In response to my enquiries the Authority says it has established that Ms X was unable to make her journey due to an obstruction on the track. The Authority says it is responsible for the refund and it has apologised for signposting Ms X to National Rail. The Authority will issue the refund if Ms X registers her payment card and the Authority is able to verify the journey. Ms X says she has registered the card via the Authority’s website.
- I will not start an investigation because the Authority has provided a proportionate response. It has apologised and will make the refund now that Ms X has registered her payment card.
- Ms X has also requested compensation. However, while I appreciate Ms X’s claim for a refund has not been straightforward, there is not enough remaining injustice to require an investigation or compensation.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman