Buying an excess fare ticket in advance

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MichaelAMW

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Hello all,

I have just been to the booking office at my local station, Beeston, and asked to buy:

-- A cheap day single from London to Tonbridge
-- A cheap day return from Tonbridge to Milford route not London
-- An excess fare to allow me to return from Milford via London

The chappie told me that he "can't" issue excess fares in advance, later changing this to say it is "company policy." I asked him why, all polite like, and he decided I was being aggressive and confrontational - that was how he described my disagreeing with him. I'm not mentioning that gratuitously but to make the point that it was impossible to get any explanation out of him. The only thing he said was "that isn't what excess fares are for."

So, does anyone know if there is any documentation etc anywhere that forbids the issue of an excess fare before the date of use? I can't work out why this should cause any kind of problem. The reason I want to buy these all together is that I happen to have £25 voucher, whose value I would otherwise have to waste.
 
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GadgetMan

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I don't see anything wrong with what you asked for, can't speak for 'EMT company policy' though. Perhaps you should write to EMT and ask them to explain this policy.
 

RJ

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Hello all,

I have just been to the booking office at my local station, Beeston, and asked to buy:

-- A cheap day single from London to Tonbridge
-- A cheap day return from Tonbridge to Milford route not London
-- An excess fare to allow me to return from Milford via London

The chappie told me that he "can't" issue excess fares in advance, later changing this to say it is "company policy." I asked him why, all polite like, and he decided I was being aggressive and confrontational - that was how he described my disagreeing with him. I'm not mentioning that gratuitously but to make the point that it was impossible to get any explanation out of him. The only thing he said was "that isn't what excess fares are for."

So, does anyone know if there is any documentation etc anywhere that forbids the issue of an excess fare before the date of use? I can't work out why this should cause any kind of problem. The reason I want to buy these all together is that I happen to have £25 voucher, whose value I would otherwise have to waste.

No, it shouldn't be a problem - try dealing with a different clerk.

If you have time on your hands, do what I did the other day - if the clerk is talking b*ll&cks, stay by the office (don't block the window if others are waiting) and ring Customer Relations, reporting the incident in realtime. They in turn will contact the ticket office to find out what is going on. This is an effective way of getting a wayward clerk, team leader or manager to do the right thing. Never failed to work for me to this date.

 

clagmonster

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The National Routeing Guide has this to say:
"DUAL ROUTE AVAILABILITY
Where two or more permitted routes are available for a specific journey,
customers may wish to travel out by one route and return by another. If a
higher fare applies for the return leg of the journey the customer should be
issued with a ticket for the more direct route and an excess fare issued to
cover the difference in fare for the return routeing. This option should be
made available to customers who wish to pre-book a dual routed ticket prior
to travel."
http://www.atoc.org/clientfiles/File/RSPDocuments/instructions.pdf page 5

So in the case of a change of route excess, it is permissable to sell both the ticket and a change of route ticket for the return portion in one transaction, which is what you want to do.

As a matter of interest, I managed to complete a similar transaction, with no difficulty whatsoever from a guard when the booking office was closed recently.
 

MichaelAMW

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The National Routeing Guide has this to say:
"DUAL ROUTE AVAILABILITY
Where two or more permitted routes are available for a specific journey,
customers may wish to travel out by one route and return by another. If a
higher fare applies for the return leg of the journey the customer should be
issued with a ticket for the more direct route and an excess fare issued to
cover the difference in fare for the return routeing. This option should be
made available to customers who wish to pre-book a dual routed ticket prior
to travel."
http://www.atoc.org/clientfiles/File/RSPDocuments/instructions.pdf page 5

So in the case of a change of route excess, it is permissable to sell both the ticket and a change of route ticket for the return portion in one transaction, which is what you want to do.

As a matter of interest, I managed to complete a similar transaction, with no difficulty whatsoever from a guard when the booking office was closed recently.

Thanks for that. I just spoke to so-called Customer relations who said that it was an "ATOC" (he called this the "Administration of Train Organising Companies"!!) requirement. He also said it was in the NRCOC but said he'd have to investigate it to find out the answer - I would have thought that was a basic document they ought to understand!

I've probably wasted all the money I would have saved by making the phone call!! the frustration of this is that EMT are wasting my time AND presumably breaking the law, because they are not adhering to the NRCOC, in the sense that the NRCOC refers to the routeing guide. If they just refuse, what do you do?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
No, it shouldn't be a problem - try dealing with a different clerk.

If you have time on your hands, do what I did the other day - if the clerk is talking b*ll&cks, stay by the office (don't block the window if others are waiting) and ring Customer Relations, reporting the incident in realtime. They in turn will contact the ticket office to find out what is going on. This is an effective way of getting a wayward clerk, team leader or manager to do the right thing. Never failed to work for me to this date.


Good idea! But - see my other post - Customer Relations were no more useful than he was...
 

island

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Just buy the cheaper ticket and get it excessed on board. Change of route excesses are available onboard at the same price as at a booking office.
 

hairyhandedfool

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The rule with regards to alternate route excesses is written in the NRG, a publicly available resource validated by the NRCoC, thus your assumption would be incorrect.


I'm confused, are you saying local instructions no longer supersede excess fares rules?
 

MichaelAMW

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Just buy the cheaper ticket and get it excessed on board. Change of route excesses are available onboard at the same price as at a booking office.

Indeed, but this way I can use my £25 voucher - as a rule, apart from when doing a 'split', I just buy walk-on fares when I need them. To be honest, the amount I might save/waste is only £2ish so I'm not going to get worked up about that, but I was certainly interested in the principal of when excess fares can be sold.
 

RJ

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I'm confused, are you saying local instructions no longer supersede excess fares rules?

The rule quoted by clagmonster is what has been advised to the travelling public, so it's a reasonable expectation that a customer should receive that level of service.

If you want to have a general discussion with regards to ticketing then I'd be happy to do so in private, but I see little point in the littering of useful threads with off topic jibes.

 

bb21

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Indeed, but this way I can use my £25 voucher - as a rule, apart from when doing a 'split', I just buy walk-on fares when I need them. To be honest, the amount I might save/waste is only £2ish so I'm not going to get worked up about that, but I was certainly interested in the principal of when excess fares can be sold.

I would recommend bringing this matter to the attention of EMT, and asking them if they comply with the NRCoC.

Generally I have found EMT's customer service department being helpful if you stand your ground and refuse to be fobbed off by them in the first place, should that be the case.
 

hairyhandedfool

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The rule quoted by clagmonster is what has been advised to the travelling public, so it's a reasonable expectation that a customer should receive that level of service.

If you want to have a general discussion with regards to ticketing then I'd be happy to do so in private, but I see little point in the littering of useful threads with off topic jibes.


Well we wouldn't want to drag things off topic would we? Fancy talking about excess fares in a thread about excess fares, what was I thinking?

In general terms I have no issue with Clagmonster's post, I was merely making a point.
 

RJ

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I would recommend bringing this matter to the attention of EMT, and asking them if they comply with the NRCoC.

Generally I have found EMT's customer service department being helpful if you stand your ground and refuse to be fobbed off by them in the first place, should that be the case.

EMT do comply with the NRCoC. Sometimes, frontline staff get it wrong, as do the HQ staff. We're all human at the end of the day so prone to make mistakes.

All that's required in this case is a little persistance. The correct procedure is laid out in the NRG, so this is what should ve highlighted to EMT.

 

bb21

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EMT do comply with the NRCoC. Sometimes, frontline staff get it wrong, as do the HQ staff. We're all human at the end of the day so prone to make mistakes.

All that's required in this case is a little persistance. The correct procedure is laid out in the NRG, so this is what should ve highlighted to EMT.

Unfortunately not passenger is aware of exact wordings in the NRCoC off the top of their heads like many of us do. They may not always be able to change a clerk's mind.

I see no harm in asking EMT this question. If their answer is "yes" (which I expect it to be) then surely the best course of action then is for the company to brief their ticket office staff of the obligation to sell a Change of Route Excess under the NRCoC. When a representative of the company makes a mistake, the company has management responsibility towards that member of staff.

I am not for one moment suggesting any heavy-handed actions to be taken against that member of staff.
 

RJ

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Unfortunately not passenger is aware of exact wordings in the NRCoC off the top of their heads like many of us do. They may not always be able to change a clerk's mind.

I see no harm in asking EMT this question. If their answer is "yes" (which I expect it to be) then surely the best course of action then is for the company to brief their ticket office staff of the obligation to sell a Change of Route Excess under the NRCoC. When a representative of the company makes a mistake, the company has management responsibility towards that member of staff.

I am not for one moment suggesting any heavy-handed actions to be taken against that member of staff.

I should clarify - when I said EMT, I meant their back office staff. I meant that the relevant information, having been identified on this forum, should be highlighted to their Customer Relations department, who can arrange to have the relevant member of staff briefed.

That said, speaking from experience, obscure excesses haven't once appeared on any internal briefings I have been privy to. Briefs to all retail staff don't tend to address these kind of niche issues that are down to the misunderstanding of one member of staff. Briefs tend to be reserved for things like new products, promotions, network wide intiatives/problems or drawing attention individual high profile passengers for a variety of reasons.

A better solution in this case, is for the Customer Relations department to provide a headed letter to the OP, which outlines the process for the clerk. That way, the OP can show the letter to the clerk when buying the ticket, problem solved.

The alternative would be my "realtime" phonecall to Customer Relations suggestion, but that only works if all the factors are right. CR would already have to be aware of the correct process so it could be briefed to the clerk there and then. To get to that stage, it appears they need the aforementioned extract from the NRG pointed out to them.

 
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bb21

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That said, speaking from experience, obscure excesses haven't once appeared on any internal briefings I have been privy to. Briefs to all retail staff don't tend to address these kind of niche issues that are down to the misunderstanding of one member of staff. Briefs tend to be reserved for things like new products, promotions, network wide intiatives/problems or drawing attention individual high profile passengers for a variety of reasons.

The briefing does not necessarily need to reach all staff. It is equally acceptable if only the member of staff in question is suitably informed, although it cannot hurt if the brief reaches all staff. (For the record, I do not consider a Change of Route Excess an obscure transaction.)

A better solution in this case, is for the Customer Relations department to provide a headed letter to the OP, which outlines the process for the clerk. That way, the OP can show the letter to the clerk when buying the ticket, problem solved.

Of course this is also an acceptable solution for the future.
 

Sleepy

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IMO EMT seem to have an issue with certain booking office staff very reluctant to sell much more than normal A to B tickets ! Is it because of some heavy handed Managers or audit bods perhaps ??? Certainly seem to generate more forum comments than all the other TOC put together !!
 
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RJ

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The briefing does not necessarily need to reach all staff. It is equally acceptable if only the member of staff in question is suitably informed, although it cannot hurt if the brief reaches all staff. (For the record, I do not consider a Change of Route Excess an obscure transaction.)

Where I worked, very few, if any change of route excesses were issued and that was a ticket office at a very busy London terminal. There were certainly no passengers coming and asking for a return ticket with a change of route excess all at once - it's a very unusual transaction.

IMO EMT seem to have an issue with certain booking office staff very reluctant to sell much more than normal A to B tickets ! Is it because of some heavy handed Managers or audit bods perhaps ??? Certainly seem to generate more forum comments than all the other TOC put together !!

No idea. I tried to buy a Bedford to Luton Airport Parkway SOR from Sheffield once. The clerk told me she could not issue the ticket, because Anytime Returns were not available for such short distance journeys.

Another one at Leicster refused to issue me with an excess. I obtained a Nuneaton to Hinckley ticket from the TVM at Nuneaton and used it to travel to Leicester, because the ticket office at Nuneaton was shut when it wasn't supposed to be and the unhelpful XC guard decided that he wanted to cash up early. I told this clerk that I had come from Nuneaton but wanted to return to Rugby, so needed an excess to the SOR from Rugby to my destination. She refused to issue the excess because she said that starting short on an SOR is prohibited. After almost 25 minutes during which I told her specifically which part of the CoC allowed what I was doing, she upheld her decision not to sell me what I asked for, causing me to miss my train to my destination. I got a Delay Repay voucher for £5 for the lengthy delay I suffered.

It's very irritating to have to deal with these people who are supposed to know how to do their job properly. I never once turned away custom - I never failed to look things up I didn't know about on the spot and be as helpful as possible to every single person who came before me, regardless of how complex their requests were. I have come across a few clerks who relish unusual requests and deal with ease, such as a couple at Waterloo. A knowledgeable clerk is better positioned to offer good customer service, but seem to be few and far between!

That said, one of the clerks at my local shack in the East Mids is very good. Not asked him for anything complex, but he doesn't ask questions or unhelpfully try to be "helpful" as he instinctively recognises that I'm the kind of customer who knows exactly what they're doing. Another trait of a good clerk, knowing when it's best to just leave someone to it. The speed with which he can add tickets to the basket is impressive too, very handy considering the multiple splits I used to ask for. I was a bit unpredictable - I could go there asking for a transaction requiring 12 coupons, or just something as simple as a Plusbus ticket :p
 
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Greenback

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Where I worked, very few, if any change of route excesses were issued and that was a ticket office at a very busy London terminal. There were certainly no passengers coming and asking for a return ticket with a change of route excess all at once - it's a very unusual transaction.

I think a change of route excess is going to be less common at a London Terminal than at some other stations. We did quite a few at Reading, such as out to Birmingham via Oxford and back Via London, or down to Exeter via Honiton and return via Taunton. Then there were the Brighton tickets which could be via London, via Guildford, or via Basingstoke.

It's very irritating to have to deal with these people who are supposed to know how to do their job properly.

Yes, it can be. I have had to 'educate' several clerks as to the correct ticket for my needs. I have come across the following:

'We can't sell a Cardiff Valleys ticket out of the area'
'You can't get a season for 1 month and 16 days'
'You can only buy a Rover inside the area'

I consider these pretty basic mistakes, and I tend to think that this is mostly down to inadequate training and supervision, as it invariably involves members of staff who ar ein one person offices. I do find that clerks in larger offices tend to have more experience of a wider range of tickets, and there may also be someone there who can put them right if they do get soemthing wrong.
 

MichaelAMW

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A brief update...

Following RJ's advice I went back this morning to try a different clerk. She was entirely helpful, knew what she was talking about etc. She gave me enough confidence that I even mentioned the problem last night - there was always the risk she would change her mind. Her remark was that he had taken one issue to do with excess fares and applied it incorrectly to the situation of a change-of-route excess. The "one issue" is that certain types of excess, e.g. off-peak > peak, over distance, would normlly only be issued at the time, but she knew routes was different.

Of course, nothing is simple... When I said I wanted to pay with my voucher she said that the "system" required her to issue the direct ticket first and then, in a separate transaction, once she has the ticket number to do the excess. The problem was that the voucher could only be applied to one transaction... So I couldn't buy the three tickets together anyway. Still, I now know which booking clerk to go to for more complicated requests!
 
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reb0118

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Of course, nothing is simple... When I said I wanted to pay with my voucher she said that the "system" required her to issue the direct ticket first and then, in a separate transaction, once she has the ticket number to do the excess. The problem was that the voucher could only be applied to one transaction... So I couldn't buy the three tickets together anyway. Still, I now know which booking clerk to go to for more complicated requests!

Yes I can understand the difficulty, but there is a work around. This is for an on train avantix but I think the theory should be the same for any booking office machine.

1) Print out a receipt for your last transaction to find the ticket number. If you have already issued a receipt then start to process a non issue and you will obtain the number of the last ticket issued (obviously do not complete the non issue)

2) add one to this number - this is the ticket number that you will require for the excess. Write down or remember this number.

3) process the original un excessed ticket request from the passenger and place in shopping basket.

4) process the requested excess as required and input the "original" ticket number from 2) when prompted. Place in shopping basket

5) obtain payment with voucher as normal collecting any balance required in cash/card, if any.

6) issue & check tickets are correct.

OR

When prompted for the original ticket number pop in 5x zeros and then manually write in the original ticket number after the tickets have been issued - you can use your station stamp on the back for added authenticity.
 

hairyhandedfool

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Fastis displays the next ticket number on screen so it is easy to predict ticket numbers when needed. It's equally useful for filling in railcard receipts while the form is being filled out. Also, you can print multiple receipts for the last transaction which would give you the ticket number.
 
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