Can't afford fine

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iuwais

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I was reported for having a ticket with railcard when i didn't have a railcard, so i emailed them when i got my letter. today i've received the letter saying i have to pay £120. i cant afford to pay that much. What do i do? Thanks
 
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ainsworth74

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Is this a communication from the train company (or their agent) or the courts?
 

Mcr Warrior

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Presumably the OP now faces the prospect of being prosecuted and taken to court and maybe ending up with an even larger amount to pay and/or a criminal record?

(One of the more knowledgeable forum experts on here should be able to confirm what's probable ).
 

Bertie the bus

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You have basically got 3 options:

  • Borrow the money or sell or pawn something and pay it.
  • Write back thanking them for the opportunity to settle out of court but pointing out your financial circumstances and asking if they will accept installments. They might reject the request out of hand or they might accept something like £40/month over 3 months. If you are completely broke and can only afford something like £1/month over 10 years then don’t bother because that definitely won’t be accepted.
  • Let them take you to court. If you engage with the court process any fine will be means tested and you will have time to pay it.
 

skyhigh

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Firstly I'd suggest trying to borrow the money off friends/family to pay the settlement cost (if it's the train company offering you the opportunity to pay the amount to make the problem go away, it's not technically a 'fine'). If you can't do that, contact the train company and say you want to pay the settlement, but ask if you can pay it in installments as you can't afford the lump sum. If you show willingness to pay, they may offer more leniency in how they deal with it - but they're not obliged to offer you this option.

If you don't pay, they will almost certainly take you to court, and they'll almost certainly win. You didn't have a valid ticket, and they don't need to prove intent. That could end up more expensive, and you'd have a criminal conviction too.

I'm assuming you didn't have the railcard you discounted your ticket by, rather than you'd just left it at home?
 

Islineclear3_1

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Can you really not afford to pay - even asking family to help out? Are you in education, working or unemployed?

Engage with the train company ASAP as it shows intention to pay despite not having the immediate funds. If you do not engage with them or ignore the settlement, the company may decide to take you to court and then the costs will rise. You may then have to provide proof of income (if any) and then the court will make a decision. What you don't want is for them to contact your employer and have the settlement (or fine) deducted monthly from your wages
 

Hadders

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I would do everything possible to avoid the matter going to court as being found guilty will result in a fine, costs plus a victim surcharge which will be far more than £120, as well as a criminal record (depending on exactly what they charge you with).
 

Titfield

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If you are in work can you get an advance on your wages? (I understand why you may not wish to ask).
 

Snow1964

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I expect if you dont pay the train companies offer, you will be facing about £300-500 if it gets to court, as you have no defence.

Beg, borrow, scrounge off any friends, or look around you and take anything you are not using or don’t mind loosing to a pawn shop to muster the £120
 

Fawkes Cat

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As people have already said, it may be worth asking if you can pay by instalments. Just a couple of points to add:
- we have never known a railway company to reduce the amount that they want. So at the end of the day you will still have to pay £120
- to have any chance of the railway agreeing to easier terms, you need to actively engage with them. That means getting in touch with them as soon as possible (I'd suggest Monday as that's the next working day) and not leaving everything to the last possible day. If you miss a deadline, the case may have moved on to court - which as people have said above, will be more expensive.
 

island

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As others have mentioned, I would suggest really having a good think about whether you genuinely “cannot afford” £120 or whether, on reflection, it’s more that you feel that sum is more than you wish to pay or you consider it “unfair”.

If you truly, genuinely cannot muster up the £120 by borrowing/begging from friends or family, selling/pawning personal items, etc., can you offer to pay in instalments? They’re not obliged to accept this offer and you’d want to be looking at no more than three months or so.

Should the matter go to court, and result in a conviction, which it almost certainly will, you’ll be looking at a fine in the vicinity of 50% of a week’s wages/benefits, plus £150-200 in costs, victim surcharges, and compensation. This can be paid by way of an instalment order (e.g. £5/£10 a week) but will cost much more in the long run.

This won’t go away so it’s best to engage and talk in terms of what you can do/offer.
 

Tazi Hupefi

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Depending on when you were caught, a rail operator only has 6 months in which to get the court proceedings underway, so if you do offer installments, I'd expect a TOC to refuse a plan that goes beyond 5 months from the date of the offence, as they will need time to prepare the file.

As bad advice as it normally is, if you're genuinely unable to pay or find help from family etc, high interest credit, payday loans, (legal) doorstop lenders, pawning an item temporarily etc are all preferable to going to court, which will be considerably more expensive than these already pretty poor options, and possibly with a criminal record.
 

Albion91

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Some people have suggested borrowing the money, and I think it's worth just saying that it's important to be really careful when borrowing money to cover money you owe.

Its very easy to end up with an even more unaffordable debt. If this is the route you go down, make sure you are able to pay the money back as agreed (whether this is to a financial institution or private individuals)

https://www.stepchange.org/ has lots of useful information on dealing with debt.
 

scrapy

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Some people have suggested borrowing the money, and I think it's worth just saying that it's important to be really careful when borrowing money to cover money you owe.

Its very easy to end up with an even more unaffordable debt. If this is the route you go down, make sure you are able to pay the money back as agreed (whether this is to a financial institution or private individuals)

https://www.stepchange.org/ has lots of useful information on dealing with debt.
Absolutely spot on but you should be aware that failing to pay a settlement essentially likely results in a sudden very high percentage escalation of what you owe (although likely to be a one off escalation rather than continuous) when the courts get involved so should be carefully compared to loans etc and you should take further advice if needed.
 
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