Avanti train manager rejected digital railcard without QR code

MKB

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15 Oct 2008
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My partner and I have been using a digital Two Together railcard for a couple of years without problem. Each of us has the card on the Railcard app stored on our Android phones. The app is up to date; no updates are pending.

Last week, an Avanti train manager told us our railcard was invalid because it was not displaying a QR code. It never has. It simply displays a numeric code on the bottom left of the photo-id screen.

He said he would overlook it this once, but that we must contact Railcard to get our apps fixed.

I presume this is nonsense?
 
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Bungle965

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There is a known fault that some Railcards are being issued without a QR barcode.
Apparently TM's are meant to note (or even photograph) of the Railcard number and email them to a Railway Delivery Group address for a upgrade.
Sam
 

Flying Snail

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There is a known fault that some Railcards are being issued without a QR barcode.
Apparently TM's are meant to note (or even photograph) of the Railcard number and email them to a Railway Delivery Group address for a upgrade.
Sam
Sure why bother doing their job correctly when they can use yet another rail industry ticketing failure as an opportunity to berate and threaten paying customers.
 

Bletchleyite

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Sure why bother doing their job correctly when they can use yet another rail industry ticketing failure as an opportunity to berate and threaten paying customers.
Have the Euston gateline staff been giving their TMs and Twitter people advice? This sort of thing seems to keep coming up now, and never did under VT other than at the famous Euston gateline.
 

Wolfie

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Perhaps Virgin genuinely were better at customer service. Railway industry standards are, in my experience, woeful - sub-Ryanair levels. If there was genuine competition many of the TOCs would go bust in very short order.
 

matt_world2004

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Perhaps Virgin genuinely were better at customer service. Railway industry standards are, in my experience, woeful - sub-Ryanair levels. If there was genuine competition many of the TOCs would go bust in very short order.
They wernt virgin were famous for rejecting valid tickets or peoples tickets who were valid on other services that was alongside the by service.
 

Terrier

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To display the QR code the app requires a 3G/4G signal also it won't work if connected to WiFi. Closing the app completely on the phone and then reopen it fixes this usually, but if the problem still exists then uninstall the app and reinstall. 99.9% of time the code then shows up. It's not always the apps fault it can be your own mobile phone, cache etc. Everyone has problems with other apps and/or browser every now and then. Not defending the TM at all but it's also worth noting not everyone is tech savvy either so they may have not been aware or capable of solving this
 

Solent&Wessex

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There is a known fault that some Railcards are being issued without a QR barcode.
Apparently TM's are meant to note (or even photograph) of the Railcard number and email them to a Railway Delivery Group address for a upgrade.
Sam
Sure why bother doing their job correctly when they can use yet another rail industry ticketing failure as an opportunity to berate and threaten paying customers.
They can only do their job correctly if the information regarding this "known issue" is passed down the line from the managers.

The brief about the most recent railcard app issues has been circulated at my TOC a number of times.

I have, however, never seen anything at any point about an issue with the QR code.
 

MKB

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To display the QR code the app requires a 3G/4G signal also it won't work if connected to WiFi. Closing the app completely on the phone and then reopen it fixes this usually, but if the problem still exists then uninstall the app and reinstall. 99.9% of time the code then shows up. It's not always the apps fault it can be your own mobile phone, cache etc. Everyone has problems with other apps and/or browser every now and then. Not defending the TM at all but it's also worth noting not everyone is tech savvy either so they may have not been aware or capable of solving this
I am reasonably tech savvy, as I'm an IT consultant, albeit not in the world of mobile phone apps. Our phones are 4G. The QR code does not appear regardless of whether I use wifi or stop/re-start the app.

My initial take when making the original post was that the train manager must be under a misapprehension that QR codes had been rolled out to all digital railcard holders. Replies on this thread suggest that’s not the case. Even then, my view was that it’s the rail industry’s problem to fix, not mine to waste time on.

However, I just wasted 30 minutes I won’t get back trying to reinstall this app, as suggested.

The instructions in the app told me that to re-add my railcard, I must get a new "download code”. What followed was incorrect. There was a button to press to log in and get the code, but it sent me around in a never-ending circle. What you must do is ignore the button and log in via the menu option.

I then learnt that the password that I would ordinarily have constructed was invalid, so railcard.com must impose some additional rule on password format. Sure enough, a password-reset request revealed that they are one of those annoying sites that pointlessly insist on a special character being present.

Once in, I tried again to get the “download code”. There was a terminology issue here as, in the “Manage Digital Devices” link, the terminology changed to “Request a new token for your Railcard”. That will confuse some people.

I then encountered an error that I already had two devices logged. Yes indeed; one of them was the very device I was using! Whoever coded that should have skipped that validation if the current device id is one of the two logged devices.

The two logged devices had the same manufacturer and the two long manufacturer references listed bore no relation to our handset brand names. It was hard to work out which device was my phone, and which my partner's. Google helped here, and I was able to remove my own device, and then re-add it with the download code/token.

And the upshot? Still no QR code.

I’ve spent enough time on this now. If Avanti or whoever want to prosecute us for using their digital railcard product exactly as we’re supposed to, then I’ll see them in court.
 
Last edited:

[.n]

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To display the QR code the app requires a 3G/4G signal also it won't work if connected to WiFi. Closing the app completely on the phone and then reopen it fixes this usually, but if the problem still exists then uninstall the app and reinstall. 99.9% of time the code then shows up. It's not always the apps fault it can be your own mobile phone, cache etc. Everyone has problems with other apps and/or browser every now and then. Not defending the TM at all but it's also worth noting not everyone is tech savvy either so they may have not been aware or capable of solving this
I don't think that's completely accurate - for a large part of the SWR network there are plenty of areas with zero mobile coverage, and I've seen plenty of digital railcards being presented in these areas.

There is a similar issue that does require a valid internet connection, which I have suffered from in the past, which is with those "live word of the day" images to show your ticket has been activated. Again where I live, there are several places where its not possible (and activating a ticket beforehand when in a signal area ran the risk that your ticket timed out before use).
 

Bletchleyite

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There are other apps (I think the Nectar card one is one, and possibly the Tesco Clubcard) where you don't require data to show the barcode, but if there is data it will attempt to connect. This causes issues when there is a poor connection. The "fix" is to go into flight mode and up it pops.
 

transmanche

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To display the QR code the app requires a 3G/4G signal also it won't work if connected to WiFi.
I just tried an experiment.
  • I disabled wifi and mobile data on my phone.
  • I launched the Railcard app and a message was displayed that as I hadn't connected to the Internet for at least 72 hours, I needed to do so in order to display the Railcard. (I assume it actually meant that I hadn't connected to the Internet - with the app open - for at least 72 hours.)
  • I enabled the wifi and tapped 'Retry'.
  • The app opened and correctly displayed my Railcard (and Aztec code).
  • I terminated the app.
  • I disabled wifi on my phone (mobile data was already disabled).
  • I launched the Railcard app and it correctly displayed my Railcard (and Aztec code).

Conclusions:
  • The app needs to connect to the Internet periodically so the validity of the Railcard can be verified.
  • So long as the app has connected to the Internet within the previous 72 hours, it does not need to have an active Internet connection in order to display a Railcard.
  • The app doesn't specifically require a 3G or 4G connection. A wifi connection is fine.
 
Last edited:

Adam Williams

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And the upshot? Still no QR code.
Back when I had a digital 16-25 Railcard and looked at this, it was issued without a barcode - the "barcode" property was physically missing from the JSON response.

There's no good reason rendering the barcode should require an internet connection.
 

PeterC

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Reading threads like these make me glad that I got a plastic railcard. However to play safe I might just stick to driving.
 

kristiang85

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I renewed my digital two-together this month and I was surprised that you had to go through the *whole* process again to get it - uploading new pictures, inputting all the information again, and then waiting for approval. I would have thought in this digital world if you pressed the 'Renew' button, all you'd need to do is pay the £30 and bingo your card is reactivated.

We really do make a mess of things that should be relatively simple.
 

Bletchleyite

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I renewed my digital two-together this month and I was surprised that you had to go through the *whole* process again to get it - uploading new pictures, inputting all the information again, and then waiting for approval. I would have thought in this digital world if you pressed the 'Renew' button, all you'd need to do is pay the £30 and bingo your card is reactivated.
It would strike me that having a continuous Railcard with payment by card/direct debit would be the way to go. If you don't cancel it, it simply auto-renews until you cease to be eligible. Most people who have a Railcard want to continue having it as long as possible, after all.
 

mrmartin

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I renewed my digital two-together this month and I was surprised that you had to go through the *whole* process again to get it - uploading new pictures, inputting all the information again, and then waiting for approval. I would have thought in this digital world if you pressed the 'Renew' button, all you'd need to do is pay the £30 and bingo your card is reactivated.

We really do make a mess of things that should be relatively simple.
I also had problems with this. The railcard had expired, but pressing renew ended up not working as the railcard had already expired (some cryptic Java exception was shown to that affect). Had to redo the whole thing from scratch.

It really is atrocious how little thought & proper testing has went into such an app/system that really is so simple (buy railcard, show railcard, renew railcard).
 

E100

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Slightly off the original topic but in line with the discussion of digital railcard issues.

When approaching the upper age bracket of the 26-30 Railcard the advice is that you create a seperate account to get another railcard. Why this can’t be easily done pro-rata or a flat renewal cancelling the previous is beyond me.
 

Vespa

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I print off everything twice, one to use and a back up and use physical railcard and I take a photo of it with the number as a back up.

Low tech and it works without Wi-Fi.
 

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