Adding railcard to Oyster

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Be3G, 19 Mar 2013.

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  1. Be3G

    Be3G Established Member

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    As most Londoners here with an Oyster will probably know, it's been possible for some years now to add certain railcards – in my case a 16–25 – to one's Oyster card. (I was probably one of the first people in London to ever do it, having spotted the new facility when reading through that year's brand new TfL fares & tickets guide… those were useful booklets. But I digress.) I was always under the impression that the railcards had to be loaded at participating stations, i.e. Underground/Overground and certain other National Rail stations. This has been a bit inconvenient as I'm miles away from any such station. Nevertheless, that's what TfL's railcard tickets page says, which is also backed up by a page on MikeWh's site.

    However, looking through TfL's Oyster help for something else, I happened upon another page stating that Oyster ticket stops can also load railcards on to Oysters. Fearing it could be a mistake, I tried Googling to see if anyone had any experience of doing so, and I found just this one mention on Yahoo Answers; a site whose reliability is too questionable to be of use (seriously, don't ever rely on something someone says there).

    So: does anyone here categorically know if a ticket stop can sort out my railcard for me? You might wonder why I'm not just going to my local one and trying anyway; the answer is that most places around here treat the Oyster machine as a rather incomprehensible bit of technology so I don't want to go in insisting the option's there somewhere if, in fact, it isn't!
     
  2. island

    island Established Member

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    The answer is probably "it can, but the minimum wage guy behind the counter hasn't been trained to do it".
     
  3. jb

    jb Member

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    People look at me as though I've got 3 heads often enough as it is. Going into a ticket stop and asking for that is guaranteed to yield precisely that reaction.
     
  4. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    Next time I'm passing a ticket stop in Crayford I'll ask. However, that page in the help system is missing the fact that you can also add an Annual Gold Card to get discount. I think that says something about it's reliability.
     
  5. Be3G

    Be3G Established Member

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    Good point Mike, and if you know of a Oyster-‘aware’ ticket stop in Crayford then it'd certainly be interesting to see what they say. I do know of one good Oyster ticket stop in Enfield – they managed to register a new Oyster for me and link a bus & tram discount photocard a few years ago – but it's a half-hour bus ride from here. (Though still nearer than a properly Oyster-capable station…)
     
  6. mattdickinson

    mattdickinson Member

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    Page 37 of the manual for their terminals appears to show that the discount can be set.
     
  7. Be3G

    Be3G Established Member

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    Very interesting, thank you! Looks like we have the answer then: it is perfectly possible, but unlikely that many ticket stops will actually know how to do it.
     
  8. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    The inability to do things which are prefectly possible seems to be a very British disease.

    Conversely, I have never had any problem loading things onto smartcards in tobacco/convenience shops and the like in Sweden and The Netherlands - the staff usually speak better English then their equivalents here as well ;)
     
  9. pinguini

    pinguini Member

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    Commenting about how much better things work "ON T'CONTINENT" (particularly with regards to public transportation) is also a 'very British disease'.
     
  10. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Whether something is technically possible and whether staff are permitted to do it are two different things. Until someone gets a definitely answer from TfL or succeeds in getting it done, it will probably remain as anyone's guess.

    This link doesn't load anything useful for me unfortunately.
     
  11. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    yes :D:D:D
     
    Last edited: 19 Mar 2013
  12. dlj83

    dlj83 Member

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    Yes I had a similar problem at Euston recently, I wanted to get a receipt of my journeys and add my discount to my Oyster I took my photocard along to get it set up but was told it's not allowed as my photocard only had the first letter of my name on it and as I could have a brother called James or John its not allowed for data protection reasons. I was told I'd have to bring in another two proofs of id and two for address.

    I truly believe most tfl staff are creating excuses just to avoid having to do anything.
     
  13. island

    island Established Member

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    That's the clerk making up rules. Try a different station.
     
  14. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    It didn't for me either, but I selected "Search common questions" and then "Oyster", then entered "adding railcard" in the search box and the 2nd of the three results is the page that is being talked about.
     
  15. pinguini

    pinguini Member

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    Well I selected "Say Thank You" then "Tube" then "Delayed Journey". Not entirely sure why I wanted to say thank you for that. Or the other ridiculous options...
     
  16. Be3G

    Be3G Established Member

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    Apologies – must be something to do with cookies and therefore requires someone to have gone through the TfL ‘wizard’ to see it. For anyone else's benefit I've taken a screenshot of the page and included it below.
     

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  17. Be3G

    Be3G Established Member

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    What a palaver.

    Yesterday I tried to get my railcard added to my Oyster card, a process which took about two hours! I live in the northern tip of Enfield and needed to go to Chingford; Walthamstow Central is just one bus ride away from there so I thought I'd go there knowing (hah) that I'd be able to get it done at the station.

    Seeing as there's just one London Underground ticket office there, I thought I'd ask at the Greater Anglia offices first, as I'd read that Walthamstow's can retail Oyster cards. So I asked the ticket clerk if they could handle Oyster cards. “No” was the response, telling me to go downstairs to the Underground concourse instead. Whilst I eyeballed his yellow Oyster pad through the ticket window. Not wanting an argument this early on in the process though, I obliged.

    Went downstairs but – oh – the ticket office was shut. Despite there being a poster in front of it detailing the opening hours, which included the time I was there. So I went back upstairs and saw a new GA ticket office window had opened. Asked him if he could handle Oyster cards – this time the response was yes, but he couldn't do the railcard thing. (I believe this to be false; multiple online sources say NR offices that retail Oysters can load railcards too.)

    Frustrated, I decided to wander around Walthamstow Village for a bit then return, hoping the TfL ticket office might be open when I got back. During this wander I passed two Oyster ticket stops. One had no idea what I was talking about, whilst the other also didn't know but he did fiddle with his machine to try. He got to the photocard number entry screen, but it seems that my online-issued 16–25 railcard, which has a big long railcard number on the front rather than a shorter photocard number, stumped him. If I'd had an old-fashioned paper railcard photocard I think he might have managed it. So, I returned to Walthamstow Central.

    The Underground ticket office was now open – hooray. But with a queue. I duly waited, then when it was my turn asked the clerk to sort out the railcard. He told me that the Oyster wasn't registered and that I needed to fill in a form. Huh? It most definitely was registered. I walked away, collected my thoughts for a couple of minutes then returned to ask him to check again, explaining that I'd definitely registered it, offering him the password and so forth. He said he couldn't see my details and told me to fill in the form. I said I'd rather not, in case that caused more problems because I'd then be registering the same Oyster twice. At this point he got a bit impolite – sarcastically asking why I couldn't fill in the form. Not rude/insulting as such, but he clearly thought I was being deliberately awkward. (I've noticed this before: tube staff don't often take kindly to the suggestion from a customer that they're in the wrong. NR staff seem better in this regard.)

    I decided to phone Oyster customer services whilst in the station, wanting to get this sorted out now as I'd made a special journey because I live nowhere near an Oyster-capable station. After waiting for a few minutes on the phone, the support person confirmed that the Oyster card was definitely registered, that I should go back to the ticket office and ask that he phones up the Oyster people himself. I went back to the office, saw a bit of a queue, looked at my watch and realised it was nearly 5pm, when Woodford's ticket office opened for 75 minutes. So, not wanting to face the awkward ticket office clerk again (I don't like conflict), I caught a bus for half an hour to Woodford.

    At Woodford I found a ticket office with no queue, and a very helpful older gentleman in the ticket office who looked in to the problem for me. It turned out that the Oyster card was showing as registered, but that my details weren't visible on the system. He didn't know why that was the case, but the ‘is registered: yes’ flag was all he needed to add my railcard to the Oyster, which he happily did. Hallelujah.

    I can only assume that the reason my details weren't showing up was because of the perhaps slightly unusual way I registered the Oyster: I added it to a preexisting online account first thereby ‘protecting’ it in Oyster parlance, then printed off a page and took it to a tube station with a password to properly register it.

    So, morals of this story:

    • Greater Anglia ticket offices that supposedly handle Oyster cards only do so when they feel like it;
    • LUL ticket office opening hours can't be relied upon, nor can their staff to be helpful;
    • Oyster ticket stops probably can theoretically load railcards, but haven't been trained how to do so;
    • Registering any Oyster using the online printout method can cause complications down the road;
    • We're clearly still some way away from a properly functioning integrated ticketing system where everyone knows what's going on.
     
  18. Tibbs

    Tibbs Member

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    There are 2 ways to register an Oyster Card. You can do it online so you can view your history etc., but to protect it from theft, to load a month or longer season ticket or a travelcard onto your Oyster, you have to fill out the form.

    I did this when I had my season ticket loaded onto my Oyster, and even though I already had it registered online it didn't cause any hassle, and my online logins etc. still worked fine.

    So whilst your other points are no doubt valid, #4 isn't as, while it's a bit of a hassle registering twice, doing it doesn't break anything.
     
  19. Be3G

    Be3G Established Member

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    Nope – like I say, I confirmed with the Oyster customer services that my Oyster was 100% unequivocally registered with all of my personal details linked to it. What you describe at the beginning of your post is actually known as ‘protecting’ the Oyster card, not registering it. After protecting it, there's a facility on the Oyster website to print off a special page with a couple of bits of information on it; you take that to a tube station (possibly along with some ID, I can't remember) and that enables the station to register the Oyster. What I assume this process is doing – if done properly – is tying all the registration details held by Oyster's online system to the physical card. No need to fill in a form!

    Edit: I've slightly misremembered – it's not a special page that you print off, just the card overview page. There's a brief explanation of the process right at the bottom of this page.
     
  20. Tibbs

    Tibbs Member

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    Interesting to know, I stand corrected!

    I had done the online bit but not the form filling.
     
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