Confiscation of ticket? Is this legal?

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Pipps, 18 Dec 2009.

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  1. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    He is not penalising them at all. If they have not paid the correct fare for the journey then he is acting as he should be which is professionally. If he had £1 for every person that claimed to have been sold the wrong ticket then he would be a millionaire.

    FIRST response from anyone who is knowingly travelling on a non-valid ticket by train or time is that they were not told they couldn't travel by that train, or they had been sold the wrong ticket.

    I have seen people go and buy (ask) for a cheap day return and then get on a barred train a claim they had been sold it and not told, or were told it was valid when they had not. Ticket issuing staff doing the job day in and day out rarely make mistakes of such proportions.

    The Guard technically does not have the power to alter the rules applicable to tickets, although he may exercise a degree of discretion depending upon his reading of the situation. At the end of the day it is for the passenger to ensure that his ticket is valid for the train and the journey he proposes to make. If he has a dispute about the ticket he was sold then it is for him to put his issue in writing to the relevant TOC. In Law the Courts assume that the passenger has taken reasonable steps to ensure he has the right ticket.

    This can happen if you go to the check-in desk and your ticket is not correct for the remainder of the journey. The only difference with an airline is that this happens before you board.

    How is the Guard to know it is a "staff error" ? Take your word for it ?....Yeah right, as I explained before one of the many excuses used by those travelling wrong is that the wrong ticket was sold, i. e. "staff error" simply because it is very hard to prove. It is not the Guard's job to act as judge and jury, he should simply rectify the situation and you should then take the matter up with the TOC. You are NOT being penalised because generally you are only being asked to pay what is the corrrect amount for the actual journey being undertaken. That is not a penalty.

    Tell us how you discriminate fare dogers who tell a guard they have been sold the wrong tickets as against someone who has been ?

    And how far does discretion go ? What become the new line at which the Guard applies the rule, and why at THAT point ? why not somewhere else, because ultimately someone has to have the rule applied, or we don't apply the rules at all.
     
  2. ian13

    ian13 Member

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    But that doesn't mean that every passenger is lying, or wasn't missold. It's not for the guard/RPI to assume or decide that. Just because you don't like the look of them, or have heard the excuse before doesn't make it any less valid. Assuming they are innocent and acting in good faith might be the correct response.

    And when railcard discount can't be claimed, and a standard open single is charged, it does in effect equate to a penalty.

    I can certainly recall being told a ticket was valid for a train I knew a ticket wasn't (I did point this out to them, but I don't think they understood my point - it was an Off Peak which was valid from 1000 not 0930 as they claimed, but they seemed to confuse this validity with the July/Aug exemption on railcards minimum fare).

    Yet if they bought it having being told it was valid, then surely there is misleading. If you bought a pint of milk for 68p at Tesco, but as you was walking through the car park drinking it was told it should have been 88p and they demand the extra would you pay (even if they then threatened prosecution and tried to embarass you by shouting to the car park)? It's hardly like you can refuse to buy it like you would if you were at the till, knowing that you've opened it.

    So people are to pay (potentially large amounts) and hope they can get it back? I think many would be quite right to want to refuse that. If it were Tesco I'd certainly walk out, but I'm cornered on a train?

    I accept that, and I've no personal issue with it.

    I've seen it used, but I don't believe it appropriate. A supposed breach of contract is a matter between the TOC and passenger - it's not for everyone else to be lead to believe that the accused is guilty.
     
    Last edited: 28 Dec 2009
  3. johnb

    johnb Member

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    @oldtimer:
    No - caveat emptor doesn't apply to business-to-consumer contracts - that's the whole point of the various unfair contract terms acts. Hence, the rest of the post is irrelevant.

    @royaloak:
    I'm referring to Mumrar's comment "Many occassions have arisen where I've needed to excess a ticket due to the incorrect ticket type having been issued.". To me, that clearly implies a scenario where the railway is at fault, because someone at the booking office has issued the wrong ticket for the customer's needs - otherwise he'd have said something like "due to the customer having bought the wrong ticket type". If I've misread it and that wasn't Mumrar's intention, then I apologise.

    Not the point. If it's not the customer's fault, they shouldn't *have* to go through appeal processes, they should be allowed to get on with their journey.

    I'm completely perplexed as to how that's supposed to relate to my point.

    I was saying that if a guard believes someone's been sold the wrong ticket and it's the ticket office's fault, he should let them go unpenalised; if a guard believes someone's bought the wrong ticket by mistake, he should charge them the relevant fare whilst remaining courteous and civil at all times; and if a guard believes someone's trying to defraud the railway he should throw the book at them. Nothing to do with suits, hoodies, boiler suits or any other items of clothing.

    Yes. This. This is the whole point, in two ways:

    1) there is absolutely no way in a million years that a court would judge Tesco's/the TOC's behaviour acceptable here. If you refused to pay the excess in this situation and were taken to court, you *would* win. The problem is, you'd also have been thrown off your train following a massive confrontation with a guard, missed whatever you were supposed to be doing, stuck in the middle of rural nowhere, and then had to get a lawyer and spend a day in court, in order to be vindicated. Paying up is a lot easier...

    2) irrespective of the legal position, if I were a Tesco employee trying to secure payment in this situation, then I'd be *very very polite and apologetic*. Unfortunately this isn't a setting that railway guards carry, but at least they should go for "normal interaction with a valued customer" rather than "drunk Glaswegian trying to start a punch-up".
     
  4. mumrar

    mumrar Established Member

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    I said there are occassions where a customer has been sold the wrong ticket, but there can be a multitude of reasons for this. As previously stated, deliberate purchase of an incorrect ticket type, not explaining to the issuing staff correctly what is required of your journey, or using a machine or booking tickets by phone or online. All of these will mean the customer has the wrong ticket at by no fault of the issuing staff. As for this business of penalising, a penalty is an additional charge above, beyond and totally seperate to that which has been charged, an excess is issued to redress an imbalance, whatever the reason. We don't live in the land of Monopoly with 'bank error in your favour, collect £200 pounds', because the bank would correct the mistake and want their money back. Finally, this Tesco 86p milk analagy is slightly wrong. This is scenario is the equivalent to picking up the milk thinking it's 86p and being told it's more at the till, not after you've walked out. I have an interesting scenario for you all that happened to me involving a railcard and the word jobsworth. While checking tickets last week, I asked a customer holding a SNR discounted ticket to show her railcard. She said that the ticket proved she had a railcard, which I clarified that the ticket proved it was purchased by a railcard holder but that it's legal for people to purchase tickets on other peopkes behalf. She then proceeded to call me a jobsworth saying 'had I got nothing better to do than bother old ladies'. So, firstly, is it fine for a customer to try and embarrass me into walking away from dealing with a situation?
     
  5. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    What utter rot. Where someone is refusing to pay for a ticket in the first instance, I object to describing them as "passengers". There are several more apt words in the English language, and I remind you that boarding a train with no intent to pay for a ticket is actually a criminal offence. Oooh, I just used one of the words I was thinking of. Now, jump of your high horse and get back in the real world.
     
  6. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    I do think some people are taking the 'innocent until proven guilty' mantra a bit too far. If this was taken literally, the police would never arrest anyone as you'd assume that the person has to be innocent until proven otherwise.

    No, the police can have suspicion and arrest on this basis. Innocence (or should I say guilt) is proven later, in court. Clearly innocent people are arrested all the time, and you can't stop this because you might 'embarrass' someone.

    Ditto on a train. A guard or RPI has every justification for being suspicious and believing someone is guilty of something - and it would then be up to them to prove this a later date. You can't just say that the person could be innocent and to give them the benefit of the doubt. How would you EVER catch anyone, unless they confessed immediately - and even then, you could argue that they were coerced in some way.

    Someone doing their job is NOT a jobsworth. It's an argument used by people who more likely than not trying to avoid being detected/prosecuted for something.

    The railway certainly doesn't make it easy to get the best fares or always know what's right or wrong (and this can and SHOULD be tested in court for clarification) but that's a totally different argument. All the people who moan about the way they are being treated should get off their backsides and take the appropriate action to sort this once and for all.
     
  7. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    Oh dear. It's used as a last resort if somebody is refusing to buy a ticket. The point of refusing to buy a ticket is where somebody is committing an offence. Quite why both you and "Glynn" are so keen to side with fare evaders is beyond me, though I'd suggest you take into consideration that attempting to defend the indefensible has a seriously adverse effect on your credibility.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    If we're talking about using off-peak tickets at restricted times, then the correct response is to excess the ticket rather than treat as no ticket held which does kind of destroy your last point!!!!
     
  8. glynn80

    glynn80 Established Member

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    As I have already said, if a passenger has committed an illegal act, call BTP. However up until that point, the guard should remain courteous and professional. Nobody should be subjected to ritual embarrassment by anybody else and certainly not by somebody in a position of responsibility.

    I am not siding with fare evaders, I am siding with those passengers who are treated as fare evaders when in reality for whatever reason, they have been mistaken for fare evaders (for example when a ticket office has sold them an incorrect ticket). That passenger should not be subjected to any ill treatment by revenue staff whether that be embarrassment or any other tactic employed to induce payment.
     
  9. mumrar

    mumrar Established Member

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    Whilst you may not be siding with fare evaders, you are siding with those customers in possession of the wrong ticket complaining against paying more when the real issue is, up until that point they've paid less than they should. It is important that when dealing with all passengers, you treat everyone equally and fairly. This means that even if it's not the persons fault they've not paid the correct fare, they still have to do so when asked.
     
  10. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    Am I to take it you've no actual experience of working on board trains and are a mere self-appointed armchair expert? Even still, your naivete is quite astonishing. For a start, the BTP are quite often disinterested in fare evasion, to the point where they won't even leave their nice cosy warm office. You can safely assume I have my own views about whether that's acceptable or not but it's a harsh reality we have to deal with it. Even if BTP do attend, you are faced with a delay to the train which costs the rail company far more than the unpaid fare. If persuading somebody that everyone else has paid for a ticket leads to them buying one as well then that's what I call a result. Nobody gets arrested, the train doesn't get delayed and neither do the honest fare-paying passengers have to suffer for the actions of an inconsiderate minority of one.

    You obviously haven't listened to my point about dwindling creibility. Read back through the thread. Even if somebody has been mis-sold a ticket and is an innocent party, it is still important that the mistake be corrected in order to be fair to everyone on board who has paid the correct fare. Nobody's saying that those persons should be subjected to any embarrassment...!

    Now, if you still hold views about how the job should be done, I suggest you contact various TOCs and offer your services. Guards (and RPIs for that matter) are paid a very good wage after all and the railway is a great career option. Once you've passed all the assessments, been accepted by a TOC and then passed out as competent, I'll look forward to hearing how successful your methods are in dealing with revenue protection issues arising with anything from honest mistakes to downright fraud. Good luck - I suspect you'll need it!:lol:
     
  11. glynn80

    glynn80 Established Member

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    Have you just ignored what I have said? I have said very specifically that the guard should remain courteous and professional through their dealings with passengers, not that they should give said passengers a free ride.

    If a passenger who claims, for example, that a ticket office misinformed them and that is the reason they do not have the correct ticket, then there are procedures to deal with that passenger. If they refuse to purchase a ticket from the guard, there and then, an Unpaid Fares Notice can be issued, if they refuse to give their name and address, then it is a job for BTP. There are also procedures if they guard believes the passenger to be deliberately evading their fare and again that would either involve an MG11 or a call to BTP. At no point does the guard have the right to start harassing and embarrassing the passenger into paying their fare.

    That is an issue for Train Operating Companies to deal with. I will state again, at no point does it give guards the right to start harassing and embarrassing the passenger into paying their fare.

    Again this is an issue for Train Operating Companies to resolve directly with BTP.
    What if that passenger had been incorrectly sold their original ticket and had legitimately boarded that train after said misinformation. Everybody wins (including the guard if they are on commission) except that passenger.
    The mistake should be corrected but not to the detriment of the passenger. If I am missold a product, I have based my purchasing decsions on that misinformation and there is no reason I should pay any further monies to the party who have missold (and the procedures I have outlined above allow the passenger to withhold any further monies and explain the situation to the TOC in question).
    You yourself said "Thirdly, trying to embarass somebody into buying a ticket is an entirely legitimate tactic when dealing with somebody who won't pay". I'm sorry but it is ridiculous to make a statement like that and claim that "Nobody's saying that those persons should be subjected to any embarrassment".
    Exactly they are paid well and are paid to remain professional and coureteuous not to harass and embarass passengers.
     
    Last edited: 28 Dec 2009
  12. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    Not keen on my suggestion of working on the railway then Glynn, nor keen on answering my question as to whether you are a self appointed armchair expert?

    Addresing your points in turn, I agree that the issues with BTP are for the TOCs to sort out. After all, it is the TOCs who partly fund the BTP...
    And the TOCs do address the issue of causing delays to trains through dealing with fare evasion. Believe it or not, using gentle persuasion is something you're advised to do - and guess what one of the methods advised actually is!

    Next up is the issue of misinformation - I've already addressed this. You have to be fair to everyone else on the train who has paid the correct fare, even in this case. Nobody is suggesting any form of penalty fare is appropriate, but an excess is appropriate, along with informing the passenger where to complain about the incorrect information from the ticket office. Ask yourself this - is it fair for XC as a company to lose money based on incorrect information issued by a member of staff in a ticket office run by say EMT at Nottingham? And please don't respond with "that's an issue for XC" - that's just a cop out.

    Moving on, I said that embarrassing somebody who initially refuses to buy a ticket into backing down and doing as you ask is a legitimate tactic. I used that as a specific example. What I did not say was that course of action would be appropriate when dealing with somebody who has been given some misinformation at some point. Quoting people out of context is a cardinal faux pas on an internet forum and also destroys your credibility as a poster.

    And lastly, yes we are paid to remain courteous and professional but we are also paid to protect revenue. Once again, I ask you to refer to my previous and understand at what point somebody becomes a passenger/customer. Read what Mumrar has said about embarassment - if you're refusing to pay for a ticket, you've already embarassed yourself before the Guard/RPI even starts! I'd also suggest that you've gone off at a complete tangent with your use of the word harassment.
     
  13. johnb

    johnb Member

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    Exactly this. And "everyone onboard who's paid the correct fare" is completely irrelevant. The dispute is solely between the TOC and me; meanwhile, other passengers' ticketing arrangements are solely between the TOC and them.

    (on most IC routes there'll be one person in the carriage who's paid gbp10 for their ticket and another who's paid gbp100 to exactly the same destination. It's probably not sensible for anyone employed by an organisation that price discriminates to that extent to talk about what level of farepaying is 'fair'...)
     
  14. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    The Guard can only work in accordnace with the rules. If you present a ticket that is not valid for ewjhatever reason, he has to mnake the ticket valid, or if he believes that there is fare evasion he will recover the ticket and issue a free excess.

    If there is a genuine mistake then the TOC would resolve that by repaying any overpaid amount
     
  15. johnb

    johnb Member

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    No, it isn't. The point is, it's completely irrelevant to me as a customer which subcontractors have messed up my service - any more than if I caught a bus, it broke down, and the operator said "not our problem mate, write to Volvo for compensation".

    The passenger should never suffer in that situation - it should be resolved behind the scenes between EMT and XC (whether that's by EMT paying XC the difference between the cost of the ticket sold and the cost of the correct ticket for the journey, or something else, should be up to ATOC to agree and resolve between them).
     
  16. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    Try telling that to a customer or more likely several customers that overhear you 'let somebody off' having paid far more for the correct ticket. I made a point to Glynn80 about one TOC losing out courtesy of a mistake by another TOC's member of staff. You'd be amazed how often that happens! Is that fair? I think not (EDIT - as you have agreed)- that's why the mistake should be corrected by the use of an excess fare, which is in no way a penalty. It would be impossible for a Guard to report the discrepancy to EMT for reimbursement in the example I've used - they'd want proof, rather than just take my word for it! Even if I withdrew the ticket, provided a zero fare for the customer to complete his journey and then forwarded the ticket to EMT, they'd still refuse to accept it as proof that they were in the wrong at all.

    Those with advance tickets have cheaper tickets because they have far more onerous restrictions attached to them. If somebody has paid £100 for an anytime ticket, it is quite often because they need the flexibility that ticket provides. I'm afraid your point has no relevance to the issue being discussed.
     
  17. johnb

    johnb Member

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    That's clearly a lie. The guard *can* say "this ticket isn't valid, the ticket office at [wherever] has sold you the wrong one. I'll let you off this time but make sure they give you the right one in future". I know they can, because that's happened to me before now. It's also the morally right thing for the guard to do in the situation.

    Whether the guard is *meant* to do that is another question - but that returns us to the "jobsworth" question. If someone does what's morally wrong for fear of losing their job, then that pretty much makes them a jobsworth in my book.
     
  18. glynn80

    glynn80 Established Member

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    I'm glad we can agree on something.
    Gentle persuasion, I am sure is encouraged. I doubt this extends to verbal embarrassment however

    I'm sorry but it is an issue for XC who have specific complaints procedures through ATOC channels if they believe their products are being consistently missold to passengers on a regular basis.

    If I walk up to a ticket office and ask for a return to Manchester from London on the 09:29 service and they tell me £50.00, I then base my purchasing decision on that basis and decide if £50.00 is an appropriate level to me and if it is I buy the ticket and if it isn't I don't. If suddenly I board the train and am told, sorry this ticket was missold, the fare is now £75.00, it is ridiculous to expect the passenger to pay the extra, because if they were told that originally they may have made their purchasing decisions completely differently.

    You did not specify any specific grouping of passenger in your original statement and I am therefore free to interpret that however I want (you are also of course free to correct me). I have not as you claim quoted you out of context as you did not contexualise your original statement.

    I have already described procedures above that guards can use to deal with those passengers who they feel are deliberately evading or refusing to pay monies to the guard there and then. Those procedures are all lifted from the FRPP (which incidentally contains nothing about embarrassing customers into paying up)
    A passenger does not autonomically embarrass themselves by refusing to pay up immediately and I can think of many circumstances where a passenger has not succumbed to a guards pressure, corrected the guard on the validity of their ticket and have actually embarrassed the guard. However if that passenger wants to embarrass themselves, that is their decision. Again I state that does not give the guard the right to then embarrass further.
     
  19. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    Why is it morally wrong to make sure everyone has the correct ticket for travel?! Is it morally right for everyone to pay the correct fare apart from johnb's special cases? Those that do pay the correct fare will probably disagree with you. Please try and keep your arguments credible!
     
  20. glynn80

    glynn80 Established Member

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    That is not why excess fares are in place, they are to correct passenger's mistakes in non-Penalty Fare areas. Mistakes by TOCs are dealt with internally through ATOC channels (as I have just mentioned above).

    You can issue that passenger with a UPFN and the passenger can the challenge the UPFN at a later date. If they refuse to give their name and address call BTP.
     
  21. johnb

    johnb Member

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    Happy to. "This lady was told at the ticket office that her ticket was valid, so it'd be unfair to step in and charge her more now".

    Limited liability companies are permitted to exist solely as creations of the state. The whole concept of "fair" or "unfair" doesn't apply to them - just to individuals. And as mentioned above, the dispute here should be resolved between the TOCs rather than penalising the individual.

    Re your final sentence: I'm afraid that you're being more than a little pompous.

    Re the rest: yes, obviously Advance tickets are cheaper than Anytime tickets partly because of the restrictions. However, there are plenty of occasions when I've had to pay full price for an Anytime despite not needing the flexibility it provides at all, because all Advance tickets have been sold out (despite booking well in advance).

    I'm completely fine with that, because I understand how yield management systems work. But it does mean that I don't see any unfairness in one person paying a different amount for a ticket from another - whereas I do see a massive amount of unfairness in quoting someone a price, then telling them well beyond the point where they could change their mind that the price has gone up.

    (I think that's the real crux of this for me. If you stopped someone at the barrier at their embarking station with an invalid ticket, and told them they could either get it refunded at the ticket office or excessed before travel, I wouldn't have a problem with it - but if you stop someone halfway through the journey, you've denied them that possibility. It's like putting the price of the milk up after they've drunk half of it...)
     
  22. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    Ever heard of the phrase 'when you're in a hole, stop digging'? I specifically stated as an example that it was a legitimate tactic to somebody who won't pay for a ticket, not for somebody who holds an invalid ticket.


    And I have described why there are times when those are inappropriate. Care to step into the real world, rather than quote from a theoretical textbook?

    In the example I've used, the refusal to buy any form of ticket whatsoever is embarassing yourself. Once again, you're quoting out of context despite my advice that it was one of the cardinal sins of using an internet forum.
     
  23. johnb

    johnb Member

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    It is morally right for everyone to pay whatever fare the railway told them they had to pay at the point they made the decision to travel.

    It is morally wrong, at a point when someone is already committed to one course of action (because they're on a train halfway to somewhere), to force them to pay more than the fare that they based their decision to travel on.

    The amount paid by anyone else is still completely irrelevant.
     
  24. matt

    matt Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    As we seem to be going round in circles now its time to lock the thread. Any complaints to me or another member of staff.
     
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