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Someone I know booked advance train tickets through the website of a UK train operating company (TOC), with home delivery, roughly 5 weeks in advance of travel. She never received the tickets and phoned the TOC three times:

  1. 1 week before travel. She is told they will be sent later (usually she receives tickets 3 days after booking).
  2. 2 days before travel. She is told that unless she receives them the day after, she should phone again on the morning of travel.
  3. On the morning of travel. She is told that the TOC will contact her local staffed train station and tell them to issue tickets for her.

After she arrives at the local staffed train station (operated by a different TOC than where she bought the tickets from), the staff at the train station say they know nothing, cannot find her booking in the system, and can do nothing for her, and tell her to phone the TOC again. By now it is less than two hours before travel.

What is the recommended course of action in this situation? She can provide evidence that she has bought the tickets and made the phone calls, but of course it is hard to prove that she never received the tickets.

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    Well, phoning the original TOC again, as suggested, sounds promising. She still has almost two hours to sort it out. At least, I can't think of anything else to try. – Nate Eldredge Oct 5 '16 at 16:35
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    @pnuts She booked many times through the same website and hasn't had problems before, and the train station name is her departure station which shows up in the booking and is the natural place to contact. Perhaps they messed up, or the tickets got lost in the mail, or were stolen from her mailbox, or something else happened. I guess from now on she will choose "collect from station"… – gerrit Oct 5 '16 at 16:46
  • @NateEldredge I told her to do that, but by then it was 45 minutes before departure and she thought there wouldn't be enough time. – gerrit Oct 5 '16 at 16:47
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    Next time, save on the fee that's normally charged for posting tickets out, and opt for the (normally free) option of "collect at departure station"! – Gagravarr Oct 5 '16 at 22:06
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    @gerrit - I don't normally arrive at stations to collect my tickets until 10 minutes before departure. 45 minutes is a lot of time. – CMaster Oct 6 '16 at 8:04
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  1. Phone the TOC the day before travel. If you phone any earlier, they will tell you the tickets might arrive later.

  2. Assuming the tickets were booked on the website, choose the option for Web support. It's the people behind the website you need to speak to.

  3. Tell them you have booked tickets through the website and that you have not received any tickets at all.

  4. Ask them to tell your nearest staffed train station to process a Declaration of Non-Receipt Application (DONR) and ask them to send to your nearest staffed station a Replacement Ticket Application Form. Ask for a copy of this request (see image below).

  5. With this copy, go to the train station well in advance of travel. Chances are the first person you speak will not know what this means. If this happens, ask to see a supervisor. Hopefully, he or she will have received a memo from Web Sales with the relevant information.

Letter from Web Sales to train station

If the above fails for any reason (no staffed station nearby, lack of time, incompetence with the TOC, or some other reason), you can always try to get onto the train and explain the situation. Make sure you print the booking confirmation, including information on departure time and seat reservation. In all likelihood, with an honest story, all will be fine. This is particularly true on Advance tickets on trains that aren't very busy. Committing fraud with those is not very easy; one could sell the tickets and claim them as lost, but the other person will be on the same train, with the same departure time, arrival time, booking code, and seat number.

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