A MAJOR train operator has come under fire - again - over claims there is a month-long delay in processing refunds.

C2C has been criticised on several occasions over its Smartcard system, which commuters say is causing chaos each morning with tickets and discounts not registering, creating long queues.

In the latest criticism, commuters claim tickets which they had bought did not register as valid when they tried to use them on the day of travel.

A daily commuter from Chalkwell, who did not want to be named, said he spent £181 on Flexi-Season tickets to then be told he did not have a valid ticket to travel, forcing him to purchase another.

He said: “For the second time this year my ten flexi-tickets have failed to register, but upon calling the customer services on September 25, I was told that the current policy is to put me in a five day queue for a refund.

“I called again after the five days to be told that I had been given the incorrect information as there was a month backlog for refunds. He also refused to refer me to a supervisor, even though I had spoken to one before when this happened.

“I was told that they don’t do that anymore. So, to put it into plain terms, C2C have taken £181 from me for a service they have not been able to provide me with and cannot refund my money immediately or within two working days.

“C2C’s error means that I was forced to spend more money and time buying tickets. I can just about afford to do this, but what about other people that are not financially able to do this.”

When buying C2C’s Flexi-Season ticket, ten individual tickets are added to the customer’s Smartcard with each ticket valid for unlimited travel between two stations for a full day.

The tickets are valid for travel on any day up to 26 weeks after purchase to give the customer flexibility to choose when to use them. The anonymous commuter added: “I think the Smartcard system seems to have some fatal flaws. This is the second time this has happened to me and when speaking to other commuters it seems I am not the only one experiencing these problems.

“I really think C2C should find a new system. I am not quite sure why they are persisting with the flexi-ticket system, which is a great idea just poorly executed and maintained.

“Not to mention the fact that C2C are holding people’s funds for a month.

“Aside from all this, C2C provide a great service compared to some other train operators so this is a real shame as it is letting them down.”

Ray Ockendon, from Southend, vented his frustrations on the company’s customer service lines after promotion discount codes promised to him never arrived.

He said: “We signed up for the C2C promotion expecting discount codes to be sent to us via email on September 30, enabling us to book train travel from October 1 with a 50 per cent discount.

“Needless to say, no discount codes arrived and the C2C helplines are constantly engaged and no one knows what’s going on.”

A C2C spokesman said the firm’s target is to resolve 95 per cent of cases within 20 working days.

He added: “We have sold thousands of FlexiSeason tickets successfully so far this year and we are sorry [this man] has experienced an issue with his latest purchase.

“We have refunded his payment, and will be offering him double the difference in price against any tickets he has purchased in the interim.”