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Transport for London (20 004 357)

Category : Transport and highways > Public transport

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 11 Nov 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss Y’s complaint about Transport for London’s decision not to issue a partial refund for her Oyster Card. This is because there is not enough evidence of fault to warrant an investigation by the Ombudsman.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Miss Y, wants Transport for London (TfL) to issue a partial refund for her Oyster Card, which she has used less than normal due to COVID-19.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. This complaint involves events that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government introduced a range of new and frequently updated rules and guidance during this time. We can consider whether the authority complained about followed the relevant legislation, guidance and our published “Good Administrative Practice during the response to COVID-19”.
  2. 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 or continue with an investigation if we believe:
  • it is unlikely we would find fault, or
  • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the authority complained about, or
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  1. We cannot question whether a decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered Miss Y’s complaint to the Ombudsman and the information she provided. I also gave Miss Y the opportunity to comment on a draft statement before reaching a final decision on her complaint.

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What I found

  1. Miss Y is a university student and purchased a monthly Oyster Card from TfL. Because of COVID-19, Miss Y says her university closed, which meant she needed to use her Oyster Card less than normal. Miss Y continued to use her Oyster Card, but because of reduced use since 20 March, she has asked TfL for a partial refund.
  2. In its responses to Miss Y TfL explained:
    • To be issued with a refund on a monthly Oyster Card there needs to be at least seven days travel remaining.
    • Miss Y had used her Oyster Card between 20 March and 06 April for tube and bus journeys.
    • When Miss Y did ask for a refund, she had less than seven days of travel left on her Oyster Card. This meant she did not qualify for a refund, as set out in TfL’s published policy.
  3. The role of the Ombudsman is to look for administrative fault. We are not an appeal body and cannot question an authority’s decision if there was no fault in the decision making process.
  4. I recognise that Miss Y has used her Oyster Card less than normal because of COVID-19. But TfL has a policy for refunds which is available on its website, and which applies to all purchasers of Oyster Cards. TfL has considered Miss Y’s particular situation and has decided she does not qualify for a refund.
  5. Miss Y does not dispute she continued to use her Oyster Card, and it was open to her to cancel the pass earlier. Miss Y would then have qualified for a refund and could have continued to travel, but on a pay per journey basis.
  6. Based on the evidence available there is not enough evidence of fault by TfL in its decision not to issue Miss Y with a refund. The Ombudsman does not therefore propose to investigate.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss Y’s complaint. This is because there is not enough evidence of fault to warrant an investigation by the Ombudsman.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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