Rail passengers have been left deeply frustrated by Trainline's unexpected decision to pull a 50% off Black Friday deal on railcards much earlier than promised. Shoppers were told they had until 11.59pm on 17 December to use the half-price discount code on railcards. However, Trainline closed the deal on 26 November - three weeks early - due to what it called "unprecedented demand".
Trainline began offering customers the deal on 23 November. Across the course of last week, people were sent an email containing the code 'RAILCARD50'. They needed to click the link in the email, choose the appropriate railcard for them and type in the code at checkout.
Customers who had been planning to use the code after 26 November but before 17 December are no longer able to. Railcards normally cost GBP30 for a year, or slightly more for three years, and give holders a third off train fares. For example, passengers using a 16-30 Railcard for a trip from London Euston to Birmingham New Street could save GBP14.15 on a fast train. If you're planning on travelling and would like to purchase a railcard, see our railcard deals page.
Alternatively, you can read our Cheap Train Tickets guide.
Many people took to Twitter to vent their frustration:
@thetrainline Really disappointed going to update my railcard with your Black Friday 50% off 'offer' & finding out it's expired (advertised at 17th Dec expiry). Can you send me a new code please? #falseadvertising-- Jade Broadley (@JadeBroadley1) November 28, 2021
@thetrainline I'm trying to purchase a railcard with the discount code for Black Friday and it's saying the code has expired! On the email it says valid until 17/12/21 - help please!
I can't get through to you on the phone lines and need to purchase 3 railcards. Thanks-- Jessica Weston (@_jessicadaisy) November 28, 2021
@thetrainline why would you advertise EVERYWHERE that the black friday railcard deal is valid till 17th December and then end it early. VERY unprofessional and SO misleading to customers.-- Blair Bass (@Christina7_Chen) November 27, 2021
Complain to Trainline if you're unhappy about the offer being pulled early
There's no harm in complaining if you were planning to take up the offer and didn't get around to doing so before it was pulled.
However, bear in mind there's no guarantee Trainline will honour the discount - it insists the deal has been pulled - and we've not seen any success stories reported. See Trainline's website for details of how to get in touch. You may also want to consider reporting Trainline's advertising of the offer to watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority, although this won't help you to get the discount itself.
What does Trainline say?
Trainline's T&Cs state that the offer was "subject to availability" and that it "reserves the right to refuse the issue of any discount code offer at any time" and to "vary any and all elements of each offer at any time without notice".
A Trainline spokesperson added: "Due to unprecedented demand, we ended our Black Friday deal earlier than anticipated. We're sorry for anyone who has missed out this time around.
Customers should watch this space, as we'll have other deals soon that they can make the most of."
The discount would have been applied to the following railcards:
- Network Railcard
- 16-17 Saver
- 16-25 Railcard
- 26-30 Railcard
- Family & Friends Railcard
- Two Together Railcard
- Senior Railcard
- Disabled Persons Railcard
- Veterans Railcard