Steamed up over price of hot water

A railway company has agreed to change its pricing policy after a businessman was asked to pay £1.95 for a plastic cup of hot water.

A railway company has agreed to change its pricing policy after a businessman was asked to pay £1.95 for a plastic cup of hot water.

Paul Bartlett, 55, of Thorndon, near Eye, was amazed by the response to his request for hot water in which to dip his bag of herbal tea.

While the rail operator One offers herbal teas in the restaurant car, it does not offer them in the buffet - claiming there is no demand.

But when Mr Bartlett produced his own herbal teabag and requested a plastic cup of hot water he was told it would cost him £1.95 - the standard price for a cup with a tea bag, hot water and lid.

The incident occurred after he boarded a London-bound train at Diss station at about 7.30am. The self-employed management consultant often takes his own supply of herbal teas with him, previously having been charged 10p for a cup of hot water.

"On this occasion I was told that tea was dispensed from a pre-prepared stack and the steward had to account for each one. If he had taken out the normal teabag and just given me the cup of hot water he would apparently still have had to account for stock worth £1.95," Mr Bartlett said.

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He subsequently complained and a few days later received a letter from One's customer relations department.

It said: "If a passenger comes and asks for a cup of hot water, then puts their own tea bag in, we lose a cup and a sale. Unfortunately, if you want to have hot water and a cup we will charge the £1.95."

Peter Meades, spokesman for One, said the company had carried out a review and would in future charge only 10p for a cup of hot water.

He said: "We are now giving stewards dispensation to charge just 10p for a cup of hot water. Where we can react positively to the feedback we receive, we will do so."