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Collecting tickets from an unstaffed when the TVMs are out of order

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FenMan

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With reference to this post by reb0118 on this closed thread:-
http://www.railforums.co.uk/showpost.php?p=1694094&postcount=12

The correct procedure is as follows if unable to obtain your TOD booking from a TVM (through no fault of your own):-

1) See the guard prior to, or as soon as possible after, boarding and explain the situation.

2) You will be sold a suitable ticket for your needs, this is a legal requirement, which however will be immediately refunded, sans administration fees, upon your picking up the original booking from a ticket office en route. Depending on time constraints this may be at the end of your journey.

3) If you do not have the means to pay for a ticket then a "zero fare" ticket will be issued and a TIR form submitted for non payment. This will be cancelled upon confirmation that the original booking has been collected.

Remember a valid ticket is required for each journey, reference numbers are not to be accepted for travel unless authorised by control.

Yesterday morning I arrived at Blackwater to find both TVMs were out of order, so I couldn't collect a combination of tickets to be used for a journey to Cambridge via Reading and Paddington.

I sat in the rear coach and explained my predicament to the guard. He agreed that I could travel to Reading and collect the tickets there. I asked how I would be able to get through the ticket gates to access a TVM unless there was evidence of being given permission to travel. After initially refusing to consider this, he had a rethink and wrote an explanation on a blank ticket and added the service head code. The gateline staff at Reading readily accepted this evidence so I was able to obtain the tickets and continue the journey without fuss.

Although the guard didn't follow the process quoted above, my experience was a good one and my thanks go to the GWR guard and gateline staff concerned.
 
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Harpers Tate

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Despite the good outcome here, this is yet another indication of a system that is partly broken.

It ought not to be incumbent upon the (hapless) passenger - who may well not be a member of these forums and may not have the insight as to correct detailed procedures to follow - to jump through countless hoops in order to make a journey they have properly paid for without risk of (any of):
- having to pay again - quite possibly a much higher fare - on the promise of a refund that might well not materialise or at best may involve excessive correspondence and argument in order to realise it
- having to seek written confirmation from a helpful member of staff (as here) because of the real risk of being reported and/or "fined" by a jobsworth somewhere else - with the promise (which may well be difficult to realise) that any such action will be undone
- and so on.

Sad days - and increasingly so.
 

najaB

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Despite the good outcome here, this is yet another indication of a system that is partly broken.
If travel was always allowed with just a booking code, there would be nothing stopping someone from booking a ticket, traveling sans-ticket and then cancelling the booking and getting a refund. London to Glasgow for £10? Thank you very much.
 

jon0844

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If travel was always allowed with just a booking code, there would be nothing stopping someone from booking a ticket, traveling sans-ticket and then cancelling the booking and getting a refund. London to Glasgow for £10? Thank you very much.
Not even that if a ticket is bought from a TOC with a rainy day guarantee!

But there is still a problem for the genuine cases, and perhaps there needs to be a way for a reservation number to be checked by rail staff who can flag it as being used so a refund ISN'T possible even if it wasn't printed?
 

radamfi

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If travel was always allowed with just a booking code, there would be nothing stopping someone from booking a ticket, traveling sans-ticket and then cancelling the booking and getting a refund. London to Glasgow for £10? Thank you very much.

You could argue that your scenario is possible with DB because they allow refund on online/mobile tickets. But they do scan your ticket so if you do request a refund they can compare it against the list of scanned tickets. Hence no need for ticket collection in Germany.
 

najaB

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But there is still a problem for the genuine cases, and perhaps there needs to be a way for a reservation number to be checked by rail staff who can flag it as being used so a refund ISN'T possible even if it wasn't printed?
In theory there's nothing stopping a guard from phoning up and checking to see if the ticket has been printed or not, but you still have the problem of preventing the passenger from then refunding the tickets afterwards.

I suppose if they are travelling to/changing trains at a station with a ticket office the staff there could print them and then have the passenger collect them, but not sure how that would work with either unstaffed stations or if the arrival is after the ticket office closes.
 
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Haydn1971

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Interesting this, I've had this a few mornings at Dore, the first time I was a tad unsure what to do given I was boarding without a ticket... I didn't go to find the guard because on EMT services the guard generally walks the train a few times on the trip to Manchester - I got my ticket confirmation ready on my phone, showed the guard and everything was fine - on exiting at Oxford Road, again, got my phone ready, showed my confirmation, explained the machine at Dore wasn't working... I've since become very comfortable with doing this and at no point has anyone ever told me I need to buy a new ticket and reclaim that back - sounds like admin gone mad, or is my case simply that the ticket has limited value each way ?
 

AlterEgo

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In theory there's nothing stopping a guard from phoning up and checking to see if the ticket has been printed or not, but you still have the problem of preventing the passenger from then refunding the tickets afterwards.

I suppose if they are travelling to/changing trains at a station with a ticket office the staff there could print them and then have the passenger collect them, but not sure how that would work with either unstaffed stations or if the arrival is after the ticket office closes.

It's very simple. The guard contacts Customer Relations to check if the booking reference is legit and the passenger is on the right train. CR confirms and puts a note on the booking: "DO NOT REFUND." Done that quite a few times.
 

Hadders

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Despite the good outcome here, this is yet another indication of a system that is partly broken.

It ought not to be incumbent upon the (hapless) passenger - who may well not be a member of these forums and may not have the insight as to correct detailed procedures to follow - to jump through countless hoops in order to make a journey they have properly paid for without risk of (any of):
- having to pay again - quite possibly a much higher fare - on the promise of a refund that might well not materialise or at best may involve excessive correspondence and argument in order to realise it
- having to seek written confirmation from a helpful member of staff (as here) because of the real risk of being reported and/or "fined" by a jobsworth somewhere else - with the promise (which may well be difficult to realise) that any such action will be undone
- and so on.

Sad days - and increasingly so.

Well what would you suggest?

I've told this story before but I'll tell it again. During the 2012 Olympics I needed to make a journey from Milton Keynes to Manchester. I arrived at the station around 20 minutes prior to departure as I needed to collect my tickets from the TVM. The queue for the TVMs was out of the door - never seen anything like it before or since. With 5 minutes to go until departure the queue hadn't moved so I approached a member of staff and asked their advice. I was told to get on the train and explain the situation to the guard.

I took a quick picture of the queue and made my way to the platform and got on the train. I found the guard and explained the situation to her. She said I really should have my tickets but allowed my to travel - I must have passed the 'attitude' test.

A few minutes later she came through the train checking tickets and told me she'd had an email about the situation at Milton Keynes and to allow passengers with uncollected tickets to travel.

Sometimes things do go wrong, and the best has to be made of a bad situation. We often hear tales of woe on this forum but I do not believe this represents the normal position. The overwhelming majority apply common sense and we never hear of these cases.
 

broadgage

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To me, this thread illustrates yet again the great complexities of rail ticketing in the UK. The often well informed members of this forum would probably know what to do, indeed favourable outcomes are reported above.

But what about the occasional rail user, or someone from overseas ?

I once purchased an advance ticket by telephone for collection from a TVM at Paddington.
For one reason or another the TVM would not supply to me this ticket, I tried several machines without success.
As a result of the substantial delay in trying several TVMs each with a long queue, I had to board the train without a ticket.
On the train I was charged the full open single price and told that I was lucky not to be prosecuted as I "knew that I had no ticket when boarding"
I was also told that I should have tried alternative TVMs ! Well I did try several, was I realistically meant to try EVERY TVM at a large station ?
With say 25 TVMs and a 10 minute queue at each one, the ticket collecting process would take longer than most journeys.
I also failed to secure a seat in the Pullman due to the faffing around.

After some correspondence I got a refund on the unused advance ticket "contrary to our usual policy as these are not refundable" An admin fee was deducted from the refund.
Surely I should have been refunded the whole of the higher anytime fare ?

I should add that all this was some years ago, I have not risked collecting tickets thus since.

Else where on these forums I have suggested a much simplified ticketing system with fare payable being determined by time of travel, not time or date of buying the ticket.
This would also avoid the need to collect pre purchased tickets from a machine and thereby eliminate another cause of doubt, error, confusion and dissatisfaction.
 

najaB

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To me, this thread illustrates yet again the great complexities of rail ticketing in the UK.
While the ticketing system is complex, this is not part of that complexity as (with a few exceptions) you can get the same tickets from a human being at a station ticket office.
Else where on these forums I have suggested a much simplified ticketing system with fare payable being determined by time of travel, not time or date of buying the ticket.
Could you expand on this or point me in the direction of where you have posted this suggestion previously as I don't fully understand what you are saying.
 

Via Bank

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Well what would you suggest?

Mobile and print-at-home tickets across the network with frequent ticket checks, as they seem to be able to do in most other Western European countries?

It is absolutely crazy that in 2016 people still have to queue to exchange their booking reference (a token to prove they've paid) in a rickety machine with an awful touch screen interface, for a ticket (a token to prove they've paid.)
 

najaB

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It is absolutely crazy that in 2016 people still have to queue to exchange their booking reference (a token to prove they've paid) in a rickety machine with an awful touch screen interface, for a ticket (a token to prove they've paid.)
To be fair, they don't have to. Mobile tickets and print at home are widely available. Or they can have the token sent to them by post.
 

broadgage

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IIRC, I have previously suggested a much simplified ticketing/ticket pricing regime with only 3 different fares being payable for most journeys.

It clearly makes sense to charge higher fares for busy services and lower fares for less busy services.
I see no merit whatsoever in offering discounted advance tickets for services that are very busy. Neither do I see any merit in charging a punitively high fare for use of a lightly loaded service, because the ticket was purchased shortly before travel.

Price should depend on time of travel, not on time/date of ticket purchase.
 

Via Bank

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To be fair, they don't have to. Mobile tickets and print at home are widely available. Or they can have the token sent to them by post.

Only for certain fares on certain routes, solely within the jurisdiction of certain TOCs. If you have a through journey between multiple TOCs you're probably out of luck.

The quality of the mobile apps is also pretty appalling in many cases. Have a look on the iOS App Store for the Virgin Trains app, and then have a read of the one-star reviews.

If mobile ticketing is such a poor experience, people basically aren't going to use it.
 

Sprinter153

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Not quite related, but I frequently find passengers with nothing but Trainline booking confirmations having boarded at a station that doesn't have a TVM, let alone a booking office.

I rather dislike this situation. As per the instructions for a broken TVM I require them to purchase a ticket and claim a refund and collect their tickets at the next opportunity.

However, surely the Trainline app requires them to select a station with a TVM? I remember websites requiring me to choose a station so equipped when I purchased tickets before joining the railway.

Naturally I could charge them no more than the cheapest fare for immediate travel anyway, but a ToD reference isn't a ticket, and they're essentially knowingly travelling without a ticket having selected a mode of ticket collection they know is unavailable.

What are members' thoughts?
 

najaB

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However, surely the Trainline app requires them to select a station with a TVM? I remember websites requiring me to choose a station so equipped when I purchased tickets before joining the railway.
The website certainly does, I don't have the app installed to check but I'd be surprised if it doesn't.
 

Via Bank

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Naturally I could charge them no more than the cheapest fare for immediate travel anyway, but a ToD reference isn't a ticket, and they're essentially knowingly travelling without a ticket having selected a mode of ticket collection they know is unavailable.

But they have already paid for their ticket. They should not have to pay again, and they should certainly not have to pay again and then wait for Customer Services to refund it without interest.

They don't necessarily know the mode of ticket collection is unavailable if the warning is unclear, or hidden in small text and easy to miss. Neither app requires you to nominate the station you will collect the ticket at - it simply says "you must collect your ticket at a station." No indication as to where that other station might be. Not helpful if the nearest ToD station is twenty miles away, it's 11:30 at night and you want to buy the last cheap Advance fare for departure tomorrow.

On that note, why is it selling ToD tickets at all if the origin station has no ticket machine? (Of course, you and I know that ToD can be picked up at any station, but many booking engines still seem to imply that you can only collect them from the "nominated" or origin station.)

In this case I think the app should instead refuse to sell the tickets and advise you to buy the ticket on the train. Maybe, if you're absolutely definitely sure you can collect your tickets before departure, you should be able to explicitly say "buy it anyway."

Alternatively, the TOCs could get their act together with mobile ticketing.
 

najaB

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They don't necessarily know the mode of ticket collection is unavailable if the warning is unclear, or hidden in small text and easy to miss. Neither app requires you to nominate the station you will collect the ticket at - it simply says "you must collect your ticket at a station."
I think it's pretty clear when you book:
 

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Hadders

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I think it's pretty clear when you book:

I don't agree. It needs to state that you must collect your ticket before starting your journey, and then say that there are no collection facilities at the origin station.
 

najaB

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I don't agree. It needs to state that you must collect your ticket before starting your journey, and then say that there are no collection facilities at the origin station.
I must have poor comprehension skills but "XXX doesn't have a ticket machine, you can collect them at another station." is pretty clear to me.
 
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Via Bank

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I must have poor comprehension skills but "XXX doesn't have a ticket machine, you can collect them at another station." is pretty clear to me.

What would be more helpful is if it actually suggested a station that did have a ticket machine you could collect it from.

The above text is not helpful. I can't collect my ticket from the departure station, fine. What about the next station along the line? The next? The one that's ten miles down the road? Do I even need to "collect" my ticket when I've already paid and I've got proof of that?

I'd prefer it if you had to positively acknowledge that you had to collect it from a different station, and if it provided a list of stations that do have ToD. The example above is too easy for people to overlook if they're in a hurry or confused.

But I still don't think a situation where someone can effectively be denied the opportunity to buy online because their journey begins at a station with no TVM is acceptable.
 

Hadders

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I must have poor comprehension skills but "XXX doesn't have a ticket machine, you can collect them at another station." is pretty clear to me.

We both understand that but you've got to put it into the language that the average person, with little or no ticketing knowledge, will understand.

It needs to state that you must have your ticket before you start your journey. Saying you can collect them from another station suggests you can do this en-route, particularly as the delivery method is 'ticket on departure'.
 

jon0844

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I've said it before, but even for some tiny shack in the middle of nowhere, I regard a ticket machine as being as necessary as lighting.

By all means only have card machines, but these would also be able to issue a permit to travel if/when they don't take cash, and also issue online purchased tickets. If they issued permits, they'd also make it harder for people to claim they boarded at another empty station.

If a machine ran out of ticket stock, at least it could be verified later on, so as not to cause problems for the passenger - who wouldn't have a problem booking a ticket from ANY station they wanted.
 

najaB

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I've said it before, but even for some tiny shack in the middle of nowhere, I regard a ticket machine as being as necessary as lighting.
I agree that there is scope for rolling out additional machines, but let's not get carried away. Assume that a machine costs c. £10K to install (not unreasonable considering the purchase costs and the need for power/data and a shelter if one doesn't already exist).

How long will it take for that investment to pay for itself in terms of revenue protection somewhere like Golf Street (86 entrances/exits in 2015)?
 

centraltrains

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I think it's pretty clear when you book:

Would possibly be clearer like this?

While the statement may be false for buying tickets on the day it makes it clear for the example of wanting to travel with the tickets you are currently buying, which would make it clear for their current situation...
 

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WelshBluebird

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I think it's pretty clear when you book:

That just says you can collect it at another station. It doesn't say you have to do that before boarding at the starting station. Hell it doesn't even say you must collect the ticket from another station, just that you can.
 

jon0844

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I agree that there is scope for rolling out additional machines, but let's not get carried away. Assume that a machine costs c. £10K to install (not unreasonable considering the purchase costs and the need for power/data and a shelter if one doesn't already exist).

How long will it take for that investment to pay for itself in terms of revenue protection somewhere like Golf Street (86 entrances/exits in 2015)?
I just think a ticket machine is essential. The loss at one station is offset by the money raised at another.

And if it was card only, you could surely use a smaller machine akin to what TfL use?
 
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