Announcement Hostility

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Starmill, 24 May 2015.

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  1. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    I have been on lots of Virgin Trains East Coast services recently where the pre-departure announcement has been, for want of a slightly better word hostile. It is made while sat at Leeds and usually repeated twice, although sometimes three times. It explains that the train is today subject to ticket restrictions (like well... all trains) and customers should note that (select from Off-Peak, Super Off-Peak or both) tickets [to London - arguably waaay off the truth if that's not added] are not valid and customers with Advance tickets, available as Print at Home tickets (which must have been printed, not shown on a device screen) or tickets with 'Advance' in the top left hand corner, should note that these are valid on the booked train only. There's then a warning that people should check their tickets carefully, if they are travelling on any other service they will need to buy a new full-price ticket - the Leeds - London Terminals Anytime Single fare of £112 (although this did recently go down) is mentioned. This is probably not right either as if someone is travelling off the booked train on an EC ticket and an Off-Peak ticket is valid, they would get sold that. There then follows what sounds like a dire warning to ensure that your ticket is valid or bad things will happen and if anyone has an questions about their tickets they can come and find the guard. There is one particular train guard who even says just before departure that if your ticket is not completely valid this is your last chance to get off the train!

    What follows is sometimes actually just a cursory glance at the ticket or even no ticket inspection at all. So it sounds like this announcement is actually more just bluster to create fear and doubt than anything else. It sounds as if they expect passengers to have issues with their tickets which clearly the majority don't, but I'm sure it sets people worrying who would never have any issues. By pointing out that restrictions are in place on an Off-Peak train, that clearly might make people think their Off-Peak ticket is not valid.

    So I put it that the customer-friendly Virgin should ditch forthwith the approach of emphasising the risks, drawbacks and costs of rail travel by needlessly pointing out bad things that they might do to you but probably can't while the train is sat in the platform! This information isn't helpful they would know it from the ticket office; it's only going to scare people most of whom will already have valid tickets. Excessive announcements also annoy people, I thought we had plenty of evidence on that now. Lastly these announcements run contrary to the sections in the new Passenger's Charter about lost / mistaken tickets.
     
  2. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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  3. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    I really don't understand the issue here unless Virgin are threatening to frog march you off the train at gun point. Surely its much more beneficial to learn that you are on wrong train before leaving Leeds as opposed to discovering this as you enjoy the view of Elland Road. By repeating the message several times before departure this reduces the chances of someone boarding with the wrong ticket. Quoting the price of a standard single ticket to London Kings Cross will hopefully deter customers from taking a chance. Its also worth mentioning that many tickets are now purchased on-line and all too often customers will not bother to read the terms and conditions. I would argue that is no excuse but that's human nature I'm afraid.
     
  4. transmanche

    transmanche Established Member

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    I don't think anyone has any issue with the fact that there is an announcement. But as for how the announcement is worded, well there are far better ways of doing it.
     
  5. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    This is really what gets me - we'll try to scare people into submission. Not a clever approach to customer relations Virgin group companies should know that! In fact - it's a very Stagecoach-like trait.
     
  6. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    So would you rather that they started selling expensive standard single tickets on the train instead to hapless travelers? I'd rather have a short and abrupt message and save myself in excess of £100 if I'd boarded the wrong train.
     
  7. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    For further discussion on this incident please see this thread.

    You see this is my problem. I get what kofieye is saying and I actually agree, the announcements are hardly welcoming. But at the same time I think this is a good point also. By making them quite abrupt it probably helps to make people double and triple check they're valid helping to avoid people being charged for new/excess tickets.
     
  8. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    As I pointed out they are making the announcement for the point of making the announcement sometimes rather than actually being more stringent about checking tickets. They are often also making an incorrect announcement about the circumstances under which the Anytime fare is chargeable.

    Why would they want to highlight the worst thing about contemporary inter-city rail travel? The lack of tolerance for even basic mistakes, and the extremely high price of making them.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    But say I do make an innocent mistake - I booked the train at 1015 and thought I had booked the 1045. Oops. I'm sorry. My mistake, these things happen. It's still not appropriate to charge me £112 though. If I get off the train as a result of the announcement and go buy a Super Off-Peak Single, great but then I'm half an hour later - and that's only the ticket the guard would have sold me anyway.

    The announcement will have the most conscientious people stressing and worrying over their tickets - and those trying to get away with freebies are unlikely to take much notice are they, especially as they know thorough ticket checks are not always carried out.

    We also hear on here a lot of guards who complain about the 'nasty / rude ticket man' impression that is created especially on twitter and in the media - does this serve to reinforce that?
     
    Last edited: 24 May 2015
  9. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    Maybe they make the announcement for the benefit of people who don't know the consequences. You are not their target audience.
     
  10. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    No, all they are doing is guarding against customers missing an annoucement as people will board the train right up until the last moment. By repeating the message they are simply covering all basis. I don't sell train tickets for a living so I can't really comment on terms and conditions.

    If you buy a cheap train ticket its inevitable that it will have conditions of travel attached to it. You and I both know that each train has a quota of 'cheap seats'. Even way back in BR days you would be forced to pay the standard ticket price if you boarded the wrong train. How do you define a basic mistake when you have a seat reservation and an email telling you what train to catch?
     
  11. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Right but isn't this a different argument? Surely the solution to this issue isn't to change the way announcements are phrased it's to change the rules/procedures? As long as the penalty for being on the wrong train is a brand new ticket of potentially £100+ shouldn't the railway be doing it's best to warn people of that?

    It just seems these are separate issues. As long as the penalties are tough it makes sense to me to make sure people are totality aware of those penalties. If we ease up on the penalties it would then make sense to soften the announcements. But to do one without the other seems like it's asking for trouble.
     
  12. PermitToTravel

    PermitToTravel Established Member

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    When one also receives such a seat reservation and email when using the same website to book a flexible ticket, such basic mistakes are certainly understandable. I agree that it's only a good thing that the conditions of Advance tickets are mentioned; though also agree that mentioning the anytime ticket price is likely to be seen as off-putting (or hostile) by many.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    It's worth noting that if any railcards are held, the penalty for boarding the 1045 with an AP for the 1015 is considerably less than £100
     
  13. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    Imagine I live in Wakefield and work in Leeds, as many people do. Occasionally I'll want to go for a break in London - again as many do. I know the train is quite comfortable and quick, but that it can be pricey and coaches are available very cheaply. But I have heard these announcements about making sure I've got the right ticket and am concerned about the risk that I might end up having to pay a whopping £112 they keep mentioning on the train because I don't really understand about all the different tickets and whatnot. But I do know that you can go onto the National Express website and pay for a coach and there's no risk of ending up with a 'fine' there and I'll definitely get a seat.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I think if the train is actually one upon which Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak tickets are not valid, there might be a case for mentioning the £112, in a very friendly way perhaps or one that at least sounds like it is on your side rather than 'we are going to get £112 off you if we can!' which I think is how the current announcement reads.

    Announcing it on the 1045 or on a Saturday morning? Unacceptable.
     
    Last edited: 24 May 2015
  14. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    Then catch a bus! It's public transport as well, and with all the advantages you mention, why not?
     
  15. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    In that case if I know about the National Express website I'd also know about the Virgin East Coast website. Would you rather that these occasional travelers were asked to pay the £112 once the train had left Leeds rather than having been warned in advance. Or would you rather that Virgin Trains turned a blind eye to every excuse which would have an inevitable effect on the price of discount tickets?
     
  16. PermitToTravel

    PermitToTravel Established Member

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    There's no reason for announcing the anytime price at those times other than anatomical compensation.
     
  17. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    Oh, I see. So revenue from charging people who've made mistakes is part of the franchise agreement's projected income is it? Ah, that's where these several billion pounds everyone has been wondering about will come from! Remember the last company on the ECML who were counting on revenue from 'unethical' sources.
     
  18. transmanche

    transmanche Established Member

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    Even on their buses, Stagecoach's warning about paying the 'standard' fare of £60 are worded quite nicely. Something like, 'Make sure you keep your ticket, otherwise you might be liable to pay the standard fare of £60 - and we wouldn't want that to happen to anyone."

    How about something along the lines of:

    "We'll be departing in just a few minutes, so now's a good time to check that your ticket is valid on this train, the xx.xx Virgin Trains East Coast departure to London King's Cross. Off-peak and Super off-peak tickets from Leeds to London are not valid on this train. If your ticket isn't valid on this particular train you'll have to purchase a new ticket, which could cost as much as £112 and I wouldn't want that to happen to anyone. if you're not sure if your ticket is valid, come and see me in [whatever part of the train] before we depart. Thank you for checking your ticket."
     
  19. TDK

    TDK Established Member

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    I don't know whether you realise that there are many, many people who do actually try to get away with having the wrong ticket and then plead ignorance? Happens on a daily basis on nearly every train that has special tickets :roll:
     
  20. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    So would you rather that customers boarded any train that appeared on the platform, even if they've purchased a cheap advanced ticket and they're on a train that will get them into London Kings Cross at 08.00?
     
  21. PermitToTravel

    PermitToTravel Established Member

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    While I very much like the idea of inviting passengers to find the guard with ticketing questions, I don't think that "and I wouldn't want that to happen to anyone" would sound at all sincere to the aforementioned hypothetical Wakefield commuter hearing it every evening :p
     
  22. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    Really? Really? You think that many people are going to try to 'get away with' it consciously and lie about not knowing that this sort of announcement needs to be made?

    If you start out with your viewpoint - that all of your customers are inherently dishonest and it is your job to go around checking up on them and keeping them in line then you don't really deserve to be in business. Would this approach survive in any market outside the railway industry?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---

    It in itself isn't a terrible idea, but it's not wildly practical. The whole train cannot go and queue up in the DVT 5 minutes before departure. It's also not an option open to people getting on at Wakefield or Doncaster either.

    As I was once informed by a lovely VT East Coast Train Guard "Train guards are not Travel Centres." - incidentally that was a demand for the previous higher than £112 fare which I should not have been being asked to pay.
     
  23. PermitToTravel

    PermitToTravel Established Member

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    The whole train won't have questions, and it's unnecessary to deny the denizens of Leeds helpful reassurance just because the folks of smaller hellholes can't have the same. That component of the announcement can just be omitted if the guard has something better to do than help people with tickets
     
  24. Agent_c

    Agent_c Member

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    For everyone who complains there are too many messages, how many complain they "didn't know/hear" the rules
     
  25. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    Please explain your comment re .......revenue from 'unethical' sources.
     
  26. sbt

    sbt Member

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    Its a subtle balance.

    We used to be subject to a similar announcement on SWT after every station and at regular intervals on each platform. Once or twice a journey sounded like a reminder, after every station it became very annoying and threatening and began to sound like 'We KNOW you have an invalid ticket' rather than 'IF you have an invalid ticket'. When you are scrupulous in buying your tickets and travel every day so you hear it over 60 times a week it becomes deeply insulting and definitely threatening. It may be there to inform the occasional rail traveller but most of the people who hear it will be those who are honest and travel by rail every day of their working lives and at the intervals it was broadcast (more frequently than the safety announcements) at it definitely began to sound like 'We know you are all contemptible crooks who are deeply stupid and have the memory of a goldfish. None of you are honest and we will get you for every pound of flesh we can when we catch you'.

    Yet there are people who genuinely need to be reminded. I travel via Havant, where SWT and Southern routes diverge. It used to be a regular thing for people on 'Southern Only' tickets to be penaltied on the SWT train after Havant until they put in announcements. What has also gone away is the number of foreign travellers, just off the Portsmouth Ferry, on Advances who got charged full fare. Something appears to have been done, elsewhere, maybe at the time of booking, to inform them not to get an earlier or later train than the one listed as the number has plummeted. Which is a good thing as many of them were very distressed, particularly those from countries where encounters with 'officialdom' are scary and frightening things. Whilst they stood up well when the Guard or RPI was dealing with them it was not unusual for there to be tears once the 'official' had left. Plus those with limited english often appeared to be unsure if they had just been 'scammed'.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    This is a 'false dichotomy'. Having a more friendly / less threatening announcement is NOT equivalent to allowing rampant fare evasion.
     
    Last edited: 24 May 2015
  27. FenMan

    FenMan Member

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    Spot on.

    A few years ago I disembarked from an evening peak FGW train at Paddington after the guard anounced that only Anytime and booked Advance tickets were valid. I checked NRE later and found my ticket was perfectly valid to travel on that service. Since discovering this forum I'm now much wiser!
     
  28. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    Irrelevant, since it's not a market outside the railway industry.

    You seem to be getting very upset that most people are disagreeing with you.

    Imagined scenarios do not prove a point.

    Telling people what tickets are valid, and what aren't, along with what will happen if you have an invalid ticket is perfectly acceptable.
     
  29. PermitToTravel

    PermitToTravel Established Member

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    Absolutely, if done correctly - this isn't, given that somebody on the wrong train on an advance may only need to buy an off-peak ticket, depending on the time of travel.
     
  30. lincolnshire

    lincolnshire Member

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    When it was still East Coast and even at 21-35 at night to Leeds from Kings Cross, you got the old this ticket and that ticket is valid and FCC , Hull Trains, Grand Central etc etc tickets is not valid on this train at least twice before we set off and you can only buy a such and such ticket on the train if your using the wrong ticket, a veritable ear bashing.

    Another big gripe of mine on the announcements department is this the such and such train to followed by Coach B is the quite coach in standard and Coach F (?) is the first class quiet coach, then to be followed by the catering facilities etc etc., so if I am in the quiet coach of which I have selected then why do I have to kept been bombarded with all these announcements at every station.

    Just wish they would also either pipe down to just shut up and leave us in peace.
     
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