Irish Rail sharply criticised in Seanad for online booking scheme

Website signing up people for further payments in next fare discount

Darragh O’Brien (FF) said the Iarnród Éireann was offering a €10 discount on the next fare when booking online. But unknown to anyone the website also signed up the customer for a debit of €12 monthly from his/her bank account.

Darragh O’Brien (FF) said the Iarnród Éireann was offering a €10 discount on the next fare when booking online. But unknown to anyone the website also signed up the customer for a debit of €12 monthly from his/her bank account.

Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 01:00

Senators sharply criticised Iarnród Éireann’s system for booking fares online.

Darragh O’Brien (FF) said the company was offering a €10 discount on the next fare when booking online. But unknown to anyone the website also signed up the customer for a debit of €12 monthly from his/her bank account.

“Some of my colleagues have been duped in the same way,” added Mr O’Brien. “More important, many hundreds of people have unknowingly been signed up for this payment in connection with future discount offers.”

Mr O’Brien questioned how appropriate it was for a semi-State company like Iarnród Éireann to offer those types of “savings” to people, “as it could cost €144 per year to get €10 off a rail ticket”.

He said that apart from the company, there was the general question of how online offers were regulated and who looked after them. He said he had written to the Consumers Association of Ireland about the matter and he also intended taking it up with Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.

Michael Mullins (FG) said he agreed with Mr O’Brien, adding there was a risk when people revealed bank and other details to unknown entities.

“People need to be warned about the number of online scams being developed by agencies inside and outside the State,” he added. “There is a grave cause for concern, particularly if a State agency is promoting an offer that will potentially cost consumers significant amounts of money.”

Ned O’Sullivan (FF) said he also supported Mr O’Brien, adding that a local authority colleague in Kerry had contacted him to say she had looked up her Visa account and found she had lost approximately €36 over a three-month period.

He said he was laughing at the idea until he found he was “taken” for €60. He had booked online a train ticket from Charleville to Dublin and, at the end of the transaction, a pop-up box offered him a €10 discount on his next fare.

“I am very vigilant when signing off on any financial offers online and am reasonably computer literate and it must have been a very well-worded document for me to have clicked it without realising it would cost me €12 per month in perpetuity had I not been alerted to the fact,” added Mr O’Sullivan.

He was disappointed that the company would be associated with such activity. “With Senator O’Brien and others, I call on the company to desist immediately because there must be hundreds of people out there, some of whom may be sitting in this chamber, who have not checked their balances yet,”

Meanwhile, Cáit Keane (FG) said that Wednesday marked the 100th anniversary of Cumann na mBan, adding that Ireland had not signed the Council of Europe convention preventing violence against women.