Chiltern refusing to pay delay compensation for both tickets on split ticket journey UPDATE:resolved

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by ForTheLoveOf, 9 Nov 2018.

  1. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Writing off the odd few pounds here and there is part of the cost of doing any business. No business can afford to dedicate staff pouring over technicalities over silly little amounts all the time. There are some complaints you just have to cut your losses and pay off whoever is in the right.

    Silly, silly Chiltern here.
     
  2. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Unfortunately, with current rates of passengers taking claims to Court, I suspect it's a case of the latter. But if treating it in the same way as any other contractual debt (or indeed an avoided fare) became commonplace I could quite feasibly imagine that it would lead to a shift in policy.
     
  3. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    I'm surprised they didn't just pay earlier then, as they have now ended up paying several tens of times as much as they would originally have paid if they had paid the claim when I originally made it - including paying Court fees and penalty costs which I added on (due to their lack of response to my Letter Before Claim, in breach of the Civil Procedure Rules).

    As stated above, at current rates of Court-taking, the TOCs can afford to proceed like this, paying claims out so that no definitive ruling is ever made. But if it became more commonplace and more of a 'default' option (rather than endlessly chasing matters up internally), it might force the TOCs to consider a change in policy.
     
  4. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Delay repay not being honoured on split tickets is never going to be a criminal offence, especially if you are asking for parity and ticketing offences are moving in the broad direction of being decriminalised. No amount of solicitors getting involved will change that.

    People aren't going to take companies to court over £10, not most people anyway, if most can't be bothered to spend far less time claiming Delay Repay. Most people have better uses of their time, just like businesses, than bickering over a few pounds.

    This unfortunately will continue to remain very minority actions, which businesses will continue to pay off in most cases.
     
  5. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Indeed, but I was highlighting the absurdness of the situation, whereby in the one direction it's a serious criminal offence and in the other it's a mere "civil matter". You wouldn't ever get the railway's pet mafia, the BTP, to arrest an officer of the company for wilfully refusing to pay a debt... Until that situation changes, I won't be satisfied!

    Try telling that to the likes of Northern prosecuting over 40p! I of course agree that most people wouldn't even consider this kind of action, but my thread is more to raise awareness, if anything, for the kind of people who might be inclined to make a claim and take it further if it is rejected (incorrectly). I would have thought that that is best achieved by posting in the D&P section of a railway forum!

    True, but if it becomes more widespread then it will have to be looked at more seriously. But even if it continues to stay as uncommon as it currently is, if I'm having legitimate claims paid through threatening to, and actually, going to Court, then I'm happy to continue using that method.
     
  6. superjohn

    superjohn Member

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    Just to clarify. Did your claim proceed to a small claims court hearing which you won or did Chiltern settle the claim and your incurred costs before it got to that stage?
     
  7. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    I made the County Court claim; Chiltern had sent an acknowledgement of service (AoS) stating that they intended to defend the claim in full (giving them an extra 14 days to file their defence, beyond the default 14 days); they then contacted me on the last day possible to file their defence, and offered to pay the claim in full. So the matter did not proceed to a hearing; it does seem rather surprising that they would send an AoS stating their intent to defend the claim in full, and subsequently make an unqualified offer to pay the claim in full! I suspect the AoS was merely intended to give them more time to consider their response.
     
  8. JN114

    JN114 Established Member

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    As I read it Chiltern settled after the OP had initiated the process of court action, but before the matter was actually heard by a court.

    If that is the case we don’t have a judgement on whether the OP was right; just that Chiltern couldn’t be bothered to fight it in court; which is a shame as a clarification judgement on the rules in this grey area would likely be of more benefit to readers than “I threatened to take them to court so they paid up”.
     
  9. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    BTP can't even be bothered to turn up to arrest fare dodgers in most cases due to how poorly they are staffed. Compared to the number of cases delay repay are rejected on split tickets, the balance probably tips against the TOCs, in a funny way. :lol:
    By all means.

    Even most of the run of the mill cases which don't require much effort preparing don't proceed to court. For each case that went to court, there are probably thousands of cases which get dropped, if you consider how many fare evaders are caught on just Northern alone each week and how many actually ended up in court or were settled. That said, while generally true, there will always be isolated cases where things escalate for whatever reason over small amounts, just like your cases out of however many delay repay claims each year.

    I wonder how often Northern prosecute for amounts under £1, seeing it is such a fond example by some people on here, and how many of those had other aggrevating factors such as communication being ignored. It will also be interesting to know what proportion of cases over small amounts actually proceeded to court. Again a tiny proportion I suspect.

    It won't become more widespread. Most people simply don't have the time to spare or can be bothered about the "principles" some people on here hold in such high regard. There are far more important things in life to worry about for most people.

    It will require significant cultural and behavioural changes for that to happen, ergo, not gonna happen in our lifetime. You will have to continue doing what you do.
     
  10. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Exactly correct, but perhaps that ought to be amended to "I took out a Court claim so they paid up". In my experience, taking a matter to Court is often the easiest way to resolve a dispute with a company, if they are not willing to even enter into any kind of negotiation or settlement (as was Chiltern's position initially).
     
  11. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    They may be poorly staffed at some locations, but their mere existence as a privately funded police force will remain a significant detractor in my view of the TOCs' reasonableness until such time as we stop hearing the threat of having the BTP summoned in relation to ticketing disputes (something that, in any other industry, would be a civil matter which the police would decline to attend for).

    True - a very small minority of cases both against and from TOCs proceed to Court. But cases such as this one demonstrate that, even where the matter is not conclusively ruled on, it is a worthwhile strategy and should not be ruled out, much in the same way as prosecutions are for the TOCs.

    It has probably taken me longer writing about the claim on this thread than I've actually spent dealing with the "paperwork" of it. I really don't know why people overthink it; yes, a Court claim is not to be taken lightly in the same way a mere complaint to a company might be, but equally it is not as serious as, for example, being prosecuted. It is, in any case, an easy procedure nowadays, involving letters only before it proceeds to Court (for the Letter Before Claim etc.).

    If I have any similar disputes in future I have every intention of proceeding the same way; the penalty costs which I added on meant that this case has renumerated me quite well for my time, if anything!
     
    Last edited: 22 Jan 2019
  12. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    Thanks for posting the update. The TOC concerned were wrong not to pay out the correct amount when you first claimed. They got this totally wrong and it is a great shame you had to issue legal proceedings - not make a threat of taking them to court, which was incorrectly stated by another poster, before you got what you were entitled to in the first place.

    If you receive anything in addition from them to the amount you were originally due and the costs you paid to issue legal proceedings online?
     
  13. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    As stated, in addition to the amount in controversy and the Court fees and interest, they paid the penalty costs which I added to the claim, in view of their non-compliance with the Civil Procedure Rules.
     
  14. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    This is incorrect.

    Delay Repay applies to the journey.

    Passengers are explicitly permitted to use two or more tickets for one journey under the Conditions of Travel.

    Passengers may use a combination of tickets for all sorts of reasons, for example they may wish to use a route that is not permitted on one ticket. There are websites that will sell such combinations with one itinerary. Even National Rail Enquiries will recommend combinations of tickets for some journeys.
     
  15. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    I suppose the key question is did Chiltern pay up because they now accept the principle of delay repay on the total cost of the all tickets for the journey or because they simply just wanted to avoid going the full way with the legal proceedings?
     
  16. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Exactly. I think the implication is that it was the latter.
     
  17. Haywain

    Haywain Established Member

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    Wanted to avoid or just couldn't be bothered? I suspect the latter.
     
  18. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Whichever it is, it's worked for me, and there is no reason to suggest it wouldn't work for others. Ultimately, if I get the money I'm owed, I don't really care why or how!
     
  19. centraluser

    centraluser Member

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    Out of interest, did they accept that your claim was valid?
     
  20. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    They didn't comment on it. But clearly, if they thought that it was really had no value, I can hardly imagine that, with them having their CS based in Banbury and the allocated Court being a direct train away from Banbury, it would have been more cost effective to pay up than fight it. I suspect they saw that it was a credible claim and thought better than to fight it.
     
  21. island

    island Established Member

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    It would have taken staff time, possibly a solicitor, and goodness knows what else and would have doubtless been more than the value of the claim to defend. This will have been a commercial decision to settle, not an admission of the merits.
     
  22. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    A solicitor, for a Small Claims Track case? The entire point of having solicitors' costs irrecoverable either way at that level (other than in exceptional cases) is to discourage the reliance on solicitors and to encourage parties to act 'in person'. Thus I would be highly surprised if any TOC engaged solicitors for a claim of this magnitude.

    Notwithstanding the above, it may have been a commercial decision to settle, but whatever the reasons, it has proven an effective strategy.
     
  23. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    I would speculate that leaving it until the last day to respond could mean the company were confident that the OP does not have a strong legal case. They were probably trying to work out if they could do anything to prevent the OP from taking the action, or justifiably defend the case. Otherwise, the commercial reality of needing to pay the claim to make it go away would have been apparent from the point that they recieved the court papers. This reality would not have changed between the point that they first heard from the court and when they finally made their offer. Apart from just serious disorganisation I can't think what other plausible explanation there might be for stringing it out so far.
    If this were their view they would have offered you the amount you asked for in your Letter Before Action.
     
  24. Gareth Marston

    Gareth Marston Established Member

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    ForTheLoveOf has played the system and got the outcome he was looking for however this has absolutely no relevance to 99.9% of people.

    No precedent / legal ruling about has been set about delay repay.
    Any cost benefit analysis of this will show the time spent versus the financial outcome to be quite frank pointless. Those that would consider legal action would probably decide the effort wasn't worth the outcome and the vast vast bulk of us wouldn't even go down that route.

    Beyond being able to post on RailForums in triumph?

    Most of ForTheLoveOf 's legal advice postings are probably based around the assumption that for the company concerned it's cheaper and less time consuming/ easier to write off a small sum for the occasional threatened legal challenge. As long as it's just a few cases a sort of secret pass for a few in the know it will probably continue that way but if it becomes too widespread don't be surprised if their is a reaction to it.
     
  25. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    I don't think this is the assumption. I also think that this is a dangerous assumption for anyone who files a claim to make. Theoretically if you're going to file the claim you need to be confident that it's appropriate, and worthwhile, and that the judge would see it as reasonable if they looked at it, in addition to having a decent legal argument and sufficient evidence.

    As the judge didn't consider the case, we don't know what they'd have thought. If I had to guess I'd have said that the legal case was there on balance, but not fantastically strong. I think most judges would have been disappointed to see the claim over a sum of about £1 too. Equally they would probably have been especially disappointed that Chiltern didn't respond to the letter.

    For the average consumer, the biggest risks are probably making procedural errors, especially in filling in the claim form, and if a hearing takes place turning up without organised copies of evidence, or unprepared for any counter-arguments.
     
  26. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    An interesting take, but this is an entirely legitimate claim. Chiltern breached the contract they held with me, and I pursued the damages resulting from that breach.

    The only reason I've posted about this here is so that others know what has happened in this particular situation, such as they might take it into account if they encounter a breach of contract by Chiltern or any other TOC.

    I don't know what the fascination with the time spent on the case is - as previously said, I have spent more time writing about the matter on this thread than I have spent dealing with the claim itself.

    My posting are based on no assumption of settlement at all, and indeed I was (pleasantly) surprised that Chiltern agreed to settle the matter. I would pursue any matter of any non-negligible amount, provided I am in the right. I remain firmly of the view that I am in the right, and if this scenario, or a similar one, arises again then I will have no hesitation in taking it to Court again.

    As to a legal precedent being set, that is truly extraordinarily unlikely with a Small Claims Track matter - if Chiltern had lost at a hearing, that is the point where it would unquestionably become uneconomic to escalate the matter further. I never promised to set any precedent - all I was after was to get the money I was owed!
     
  27. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    I agree - you should never take a matter to Court because you think the other side will agree to settle. If you want to take it to Court, expect it to go all the way - and if it gets settled earlier then that's a surprise, if anything.

    I continue to be firmly of the belief that my legal case here was strong, but ultimately it is highly unlikely that any case on this matter will ever go to a precedent-setting level, so I don't think we will ever have 100% certainty on it.

    I think the risk of making procedural errors is perhaps overstated - the process is fairly self-explanatory in terms of what forms you need to fill out, and there is help and guidance available throughout. Nevertheless, obviously not everyone wants to take everything to Court and that is entirely their right. But I will continue to do so where I think it's justified (which, in the case of a debt owed by a TOC, it usually will be).

    If the judge is supposed to have been disappointed over taking out a claim over what is a relatively small actual amount in controversy, then I can hardly imagine what they think to train companies taking passengers to Court over 40p (as previously linked). You are correct that if you engage in unreasonable conduct, costs are liable to be awarded, but the bar for this is not insubstantial.
     
  28. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Quite. I was merely comparing disincentive posed by the assosiated risk of botching the claim form to that of spending time and effort with court proceedings. The former is small and the latter does not really exist at all, despite what some people have implied.

    Actually going to a hearing does take it up a notch though in terms of your nerves, even if the case is likely to be heard in a less formal and potentially intimidating environment than what people see of courtrooms on TV.
     
    Last edited: 24 Jan 2019
  29. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Absoultely right. Unfortunately, what the train company in question may or may not have done in the small number of cases which have ever reached court over totally unrelated matters to yours is unlikely to have any bearing on the judge's view of your case. The amount you claimed for, however, will do.
     
  30. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    Too many people who work for large organisations make an assumption that consumers will not take matters to court. This also applies in criminal matters, as well as civil. I have received an out of court settlement from a criminal situation when an employee of an organisation wronged me in some way and, even though the Police were hopeless, once they realised a private prosecution was something I was not joking about and I also obtained details of the employee concerned from the electrol roll so I could serve papers on them too, suddenly a settlement was offered. The same is true in civil matters. Too many people acting on behalf of train companies (i.e. making decisions on delay claims) show no respect for the two way contract that a customer has entered into and they deny them their rights to compensation. It is not an act of kindness or something one should be grateful for if it is a contractual entitlement. There is an assumption that a customer might complain to the company but would never take things to court, that is not for normal (little) people.

    I once had a case with a bank where they breached the terms and conditions and when I complained to the Branch Manager and she didn't resolve the problem when she could have. When I said I wished to complain she didn't take my complaint seriously. When I said to her words to the effect that it would be really good if we could sort this out at this stage because if I had to get my solution by taking it further to the FSO it would take much longer. This took her aback and she said, quite genuinely, "why would you want to do that... take it all that way?" In the end the head office just defended the branches incorrect actions and I took it to the FSO and the bank offered me £500 to settle. I make this point to show that normal people an take things further and should not be afraid to do so. They should not let a train company have a unfounded belief that they will not enforce their rights. If I was working dealing with delay repay claims, I would never deny a customer their rights by denying their claim if they were using split tickets. I would know that to do so would be incorrect and plainly wrong. Others in such positions should take the same approach.
     

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