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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September, 2003, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Web payback for delayed commuters
Underground commuters
Delayed Tube commuters are entitled to compensation
A website which allows Tube passengers to text their claims for compensation while they are still stuck on the train has been created by a fed-up commuter.

Software developer Paul Hatcher, 38, was among the 600,000 passengers who faced long delays when the Central and Waterloo and City lines closed after the derailment at Chancery Lane in January.

Deprived of the direct route from his home in Ealing Broadway, west London, to Bank in the City, he found he had plenty of time to mull over the commuters' ills.

He realised he could apply technology developed for another project to make it easier for passengers to claim compensation from London Underground (LU).

Tube users who are delayed for more than 15 minutes when LU is at fault are entitled to compensation under the company's customer charter.

It's just there to act as a chivvy to London Underground
Paul Hatcher
But while many pick up the forms, only a small percentage return them to claim their fare back.

Mr Hatcher believes some are put off by the number of boxes they have to fill in while others cannot be bothered once the journey is over.

"It's the usual thing. You are standing on the platform, the train's been delayed and you are frustrated about it," he told BBC News Online.

"But by the time you've completed your journey you've cooled down a bit and you can't be bothered to fill in a big form for 2.50 [compensation]."

Underground commuters
Delayed Tube commuters are entitled to compensation
From this week his website allows registered commuters to type details of the delay into their mobile phone while they are still on the Tube.

Once above ground, they can then send the text message and the website will process a claims form and send them the link to double check the details.

As the form requires a signature, it still needs to be printed out and posted to LU.

The service is free for a trial period, but will cost 5 for every 25 claims from 1 November.

Although Mr Hatcher is not sure how popular the site will be he has designed it to handle up to 10,000 requests an hour.

"It's just there to act as a chivvy to London Underground," he said.

A spokeswoman for LU said they welcome complaints and comments from commuters.

She added: "Passengers can already download an application for free to claim a refund under the customer charter if LU is at fault for delays of 15 minutes or more."




SEE ALSO:
Central Line reopens fully
12 Apr 03  |  UK
Thirty hurt after Tube crash
25 Jan 03  |  England


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