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Are Advanced Tickets Available at Ticket Offices

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Steveoh

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Hi

I'm sure the answer is yes, but I thought I'd check.

Background is this. My dad had some rail travel vouchers but is unfamiliar with rail ticketing. I sent him off to East Midlands Parkway yesterday as it is quiet to buy two single tickets to travel from Nottingham to Norwich tomorrow. He's ended up with two anytime singles at over £50 each, but tells me that he specifically asked for advance tickets. He said that the office spent ages looking for advance fares but couldn't find any. Can they sell them?

They've been given reservations for the 10:34 tomorrow which clearly has advance tickets available even now at £51.00 for two tickets. I've just checked on NRE.

I know I wasn't present at the conversation but it strikes me that something has gone very wrong here.

Is this just a booking office failure? Given that travel is tomorrow there really isn't the option to get these tickets changed. Any advice? I do feel a bit like taking this up with East Midlands Trains, but is it really worth it? I'd have thought that they would be very easy to look up on a system.

Advances for the 10:34 tomorrow appear to be available on NRE and East Midlands Trains Websites but not on GWR website. Is something odd going on? Perhaps the office were right, but it seems very strange.
 
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AlterEgo

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All Advance tickets can be bought at ticket offices, if they are available.

I was under the impression NRE fares data was actually cached and not real-time - perhaps someone can confirm this? I am rusty on this.

Virgin Trains' site does show the Advances you mention, but I haven't tried to purchase them of course (sometimes there is "ghost availability" and the transaction falls over).

EDIT - can also see the Advances on GWR....
 
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Steveoh

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So is there any conceivable reason (other than my dad or the ticket office being wrong) that they weren't available yesterday? My dad thought it odd as the first thing he did when he came home was to look them up on line at the East Midlands Trains website and found the advance fares. That's why I tend to believe him. Shame he didn't do it the other way around.

Is it worth contacting East Midlands Trains customer services? They're unlikely to have a chance to go back to the ticket office now. I also wouldn't blame a ticket office for refusing to believe when they turn up at Nottingham in the morning, and it will be too late for the advances by then anyway.

Could we buy them on line and claim a refund for not travelling? That would seem to be a cheaper option anyway.
 

stanthedog

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I've had an experience where Virgin would not sell me an advance ticket using their telephone ticket line when I attempted to use a refund voucher, they stated that the advance ticket I wanted was a web only fare which then prevented me from using the refund voucher. The only ticket they could sell me was more expensive, even with the voucher refund value (£45).
 

AlterEgo

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I've had an experience where Virgin would not sell me an advance ticket using their telephone ticket line when I attempted to use a refund voucher, they stated that the advance ticket I wanted was a web only fare which then prevented me from using the refund voucher. The only ticket they could sell me was more expensive, even with the voucher refund value (£45).

Sounds like this was a Saver Half Return, not an Advance (though you do have to purchase the SVH with an Advance to avail of it).

Also marketed as "Off Peak Single (Online Only)".
 

maniacmartin

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All Advance tickets can be bought at ticket offices, if they are available.

Sadly not. Some smaller stations do not have the facilities to issue reservations, or tickets that can only be issued with reservations such as Advances. You can find out which ones they are in Schedule 17 of the Ticketing & Settlement Agreement (TSA).

However, East Midlands Parkway is one of the stations that should be able to offer reservations. There are a few reasons that I can think of as to why the staff couldn't find them:
  • The staff might not be very knowledgeable in operating the Ticket Issuing System
  • The TIS's connection to the National Reservation could be down due to a technical problem
  • The TIS's interpretation of the routeing guide restrictions could differ between systems and websites, as the instructions are quite subtle and different programmers have interpreted them differently
  • Someone else bought the last tickets at that price point in between you checking and your dad going to the ticket office
  • You put the last Advance tickets that were available at that price in your basket on the EMT website. The website will then reserve them for a few hours until you either complete the purchase online, delete them from your basket or they eventually get released on their own accord. Once they are in your online basket, no-one else can buy them and they won't show up on another vendor's website.

Given Nottingham to Norwich is a simple route and you talk about it not being available at GWR, I think it is most likely that the problem was you putting them into your basket on the EMT website and blocking them out when your dad was at the ticket office
 
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Steveoh

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Given Nottingham to Norwich is a simple route and you talk about it not being available at GWR, I think it is most likely that the problem was you putting them into your basket on the EMT website and blocking them out when your dad was at the ticket office

I've only just looked now, he went to the ticket office yesterday. It was me being stupid on GWR too. I forgot that EMT offer money off on their own website and that I'd put in two tickets on GWR so they are still available.

Thanks for the list of the regulations etc. I'd had thought if there were a technical problem then they would have advised that.

I really value ticket offices, I wish they'd look after themselves better than this..
 
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