CrossCountry demonstrates "astonishing contempt for fare-paying passengers"

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by jfollows, 29 Jun 2019.

  1. jfollows

    jfollows Member

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    In today's Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2...d-with-court-for-using-screenshot-of-e-ticket, is a report of a passenger attempting to use a screenshot of an "e-ticket" with a perfectly readable bar code, but being effectively compelled to pay £161.30 to avoid a threatened prosecution. The thread title includes the view of Transport Focus of the case, and the payment has now been refunded.

    This is the sort of thing which makes me a reluctant user of "e tickets" (I used a Virgin one last week) and I absolutely will not use "m tickets" which require use of some sort of "app". I've worked with computers since 1984 so perhaps it's my familiarity with the failings of technology which make me feel this way.

    However there was no failure of technology in this case, there may have been a failure in staff training which resulted in what seems to me a totally unacceptable chain of events, only slightly mitigated with the refund conclusion.

    Nonetheless these sorts of tickets are clearly the way of the future, and rail companies need to do better than they did do in this report, and show that they are doing so.

     
    Last edited: 30 Jun 2019
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  3. Howardh

    Howardh Established Member

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    I've just read that on the Guardian's site; and I reckon it's got beyond the point of a joke as to what constitutes a "valid ticket" or not; mainly trying to explain to the average passenger what it is and isn't.
    I have a phone who's battery lasts about an hour so on returning I panic if I've enough battery life to access my e-ticket; and if I haven't - or at the gate and I switch on it starts "updating android" which can take 15 mins :( so how can I prove I've paid and catch that last train home??
    Having the e-ticket, activating it and showing it all needs "live" internet - is there a way of downloading it so it comes up as a file (as my phone without data searching lasts far longer)?

    Edit - from one of the comments
    and
    That's the root of the problem, profit-chasing third parties. Time that was made illegal and the companies themselves had to do the chasing (as in car parking, TV licencing etc) where common-sense goes out the window.
    The lady would probably win her case in front of a jury, but the costs to her would be excessive.
     
  4. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Was this definitely an e-ticket? If so, it was perfectly valid.

    As for Transport Investigations Limited, I've had dealings with them and I know what they are like. I'm not surprised at all.
     
  5. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    e-tickets don't require activation; you are thinking of an m-ticket.

    m-tickets are a failed experiment. They should be abolished immediately IMO.

    XC TMs vary a lot. From the superb, e.g. the legendary Kevin Kramer, right down to the absolute pits you'll experience in any customer service role. Most are good but it's a lottery, and the worst ones bring the entire industry into disrepute.

    There are many more cases like this, but few people want to publish details of their cases. It's a scandal.
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2019
  6. Howardh

    Howardh Established Member

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    My head's spinning now; didn't know there was a difference. And if there was wouldn't know which is which.

    Have we made the situation far more complicated than it needs to be? If I buy something online I get a conformation e-mail which acts as a receipt. Why can't that be used by the railways, is it because it can't be read by a reader (although it could bey a human)?
     
  7. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    For e-tickets you get two emails:
    1) the booking confirmation
    2) the ticket (contained in a PDF attachment)

    They have to be sent separately in case spam filters don't allow the actual ticket through. The emails should make this clear.

    The ticket does NOT have to be printed; it can be shown on any device.

    If the customer held an e-ticket, they did nothing wrong.

    I am aware of cases where Transport Investigations were threatening to criminally prosecute people who held valid tickets; there must be hundreds of cases I am not aware of.
     
  8. jfollows

    jfollows Member

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    Yes, I agree, but you're allowed to be confused. However, according to the article, both Cross Country and Transport Investigations incorrectly said that the "e-ticket" needed to be "activated" prior to use (amongst other things), so is it surprising that you're confused?
     
  9. CNash

    CNash Member

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    Is this debacle partly due to the TOCs’ fear that people will be able to give printed-out copies (or screenshots of tickets in this case) to other people, thus violating their sacred “non-transferable” rule?

    I don’t know exactly how e-tickets work on the backend but presumably once it’s bern scanned, it can’t be used again and would be flagged as “not valid” by any further inspection?
     
  10. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    m-tickets are tied into the app; the app validates the e-ticket. A screenshot of this bypasses the security of the app. They are an outdated technology that was a ludicrous idea to begin with. The experiment was a failure. They are now being phased out.

    e-tickets are really good; you can show them or print them (or both); the only requirement is that the barcode must be in a suitable state to be scanned. If the passenger held an e-ticket (as stated in the article) then they were valid.
    No, as otherwise you'd not be able to complete a long distance journey!

    See this (which was posted in a thread originally about m-tickets)

    Also from that thread:
    If the passenger held an m-ticket, it wasn't valid without the app, but to carry out a criminal prosecution because of this is a disgusting move on the part of XC and TIL, who should hang their heads in shame. I'd call this act an "unFair-Cop"
     
  11. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    As ever, it's down to the railways getting into a pickle about the perceived risk of fraudulent reuse and refunds. M-tickets have to be activated because it was perceived, at the time, that there was a risk that otherwise people would be able to use a ticket (bearing in mind this was the early 2010s, when hardly any staff or barriers had scanners) and then refund it, claiming they hadn't travelled.

    E-tickets are a later breed of ticket and don't have to be activated because the TOCs accept that there are now enough scanners around on trains and at stations that very few people are likely to be able to make a journey without having their ticket scanned at least once.

    As to why mere email confirmations aren't accepted on the railway, again it's because they can be reproduced in unlimited numbers and thus there is a fear that one person would buy a ticket and then he and all his mates would use the email to travel. This would be solved by implementing the e-ticket into the booking confirmation email (in the same way that airlines can email you a text-based boarding pass).

    Unfortunately it all stems from the culture clash within the different parts of the railway. The retailing part is pushing electronic tickets because they reduce reuse risk due to the barcodes, and because they reduce the cost of the paper/cardboard that would otherwise be needed. The revenue protection part is only out to protect revenue and doesn't actually care if innocent passengers are punished for misunderstanding the exceedingly and needlessly complex rules (e.g. the difference between an m-ticket and an e-ticket).

    There seems to be an inability for the two parts to work together as might happen in well-organised industries or companies (e.g. London Underground, who solved most of these problems long ago using Oyster and now contactless, which has brought benefits to both them and the passenger).
     
  12. Howardh

    Howardh Established Member

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    I have a feeling that if I were a magistrate I would ask the accused "did you pay for, and have a receipt for, the journey you were attempting to make?"
    "Yes (shows said receipt)"
    "Cased dismissed and I award you costs".
    The fault would be with the railways/system/recovery rather than the passenger, and in law the passenger has nothing to prove.
     
  13. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    XC in their statement in the article talk about an "e-ticket" but then go and apply the terms and conditions of an "m-ticket":

    Their (XC) statement is clearly wrong IMHO.
     
  14. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    They're often wrong.

    The problem is, if we are wrong, we can be criminally prosecuted.

    There's no one who is actually prepared, willing and able, to bring XC to account in any meaningful way when they either make a mistake or act maliciously. It's not a level playing field.
     
  15. pethadine82

    pethadine82 Member

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    I used the print @ home when it was run by East Coast. I did keep a printout just in case but the barriers were able to read the barcode straight from my phone. In fact RPI from first capital connect did not say anything. On the train I found the guards to be very pleasant and never had any issues when I showed them my phone however you have to turn the brightness down. Yes I know the T &C say you need a printout, but felt that I should make full use of technology.
     
  16. Howardh

    Howardh Established Member

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    Fulsome apology, a free season ticket between any two stations of the passenger's choice, a fortnight's UK-wide rail rover and compensation of £1000 should be a minimum if the TOC are wrong.
    Might concentrate a few minds to know exactly what they are doing.
     
  17. farleigh

    farleigh Member

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    Just read the whole article.

    This really is astonishing and frankly disgusting.

    Only an idiot could defend this current state of affairs.
     
  18. jfollows

    jfollows Member

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    I agree with just about everything you say apart from this, I don't see how e-tickets are good when their purchase opens you to threats of prosecution by the people from whom you buy them. But I know what you mean, and they can be made fit for purpose if the desire is there. Personally, I like the fact that I can print them out but if I were a more regular user of them than I am I might be convinced to dispense with this.

    As I said, I reluctantly use Virgin's e-tickets and I've had no problems with their use.
     
  19. Alteran Ancient

    Alteran Ancient Member

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    The article kind of suggested as though it was a screenshot of part of the e-ticket as opposed to a PDF or other digital document. If the barcode is obscured or unreadable to the point where it isn't valid, then it isn't valid. But if the barcode was readable, then it was valid, and both the inspector and TIL are talking out of where the sun don't shine.

    Why would people want to use newer ticketing methods, or rail travel in general if the system defaults to treating them like a criminal?
     
  20. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    If the ticket held really was an e-ticket then I do not agree that holding one opens a passenger to a threat of prosecution, if the company threatening the prosecution does not understand how they work, any more than the following:
    Yet all of the above have resulted in rejection of the ticket by railway staff who did not do their job correctly, and resulted in a Penalty Fare, confiscation of all tickets in wallet for investigation, a prosecution and a new ticket, respectively.

    Those are just a small selection of examples I have provided advise for or been involved with. There must be thousands of incorrect rejections of tickets annually, and hundreds of wrongful threats of prosecution.

    The only way to be sure of not being prosecuted is to not travel by train! It's not the fault of a particular ticket type, fulfilment method, discount or anything else (with a few exceptions such as m-tickets, which are fundamentally flawed!), but it's the behaviour of certain train companies, some of their staff and managers, and unscrupulous companies to whom they contract out their debt collection and prosecutions to. Ultimately the legislation is utterly unfit for purpose, and criminalises innocent passengers.

    I am not exaggerating when I say this is a national scandal, with many examples. The actions of some staff, and some companies, are bringing the entire industry into disrepute.
    I completely agree.

    But the likes of Transport Investigations are not going to change their ways unless they are forced to. But who is going to do that? I can't see anything changing for the foreseeable future. :(
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2019
  21. Mak1981

    Mak1981 Member

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    From the article we can see that the barcode(qr code or whatever you want to describe it as) was obscured so in fact would not be a valid ticket

    "Everything was also fine when the inspector on the train to Birmingham checked her barcode. On her screenshot, it was partially obscured by the ringtone bar, though both staff members confirmed that enough of the code was visible to validate it. But on the second leg of the journey, from Birmingham to Manchester, the “officious” inspector refused to accept the screenshot saying it was “not valid”."

    So by reading this it is likely that one of the two inspectors didn't attempt to scan the barcode, either the first one who let her continue or the second who stopped her, if partially obscured and scanned the first time it would probably still have scanned the second time, or likely first inspector just let it pass
     
  22. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    I have previously used m-tickets in instances where there were ticketing facilities available at my origin station but I would have missed the train had I made use of them. I could have faced stiff financial penalties - even prosecution - had I been caught ticketless by an RPI, so my choice was between getting an m-ticket and carrying the associated risks this encompasses, or risking these penalties, or missing the train and waiting an hour needlessly.

    For many journeys the fastest or otherwise most convenient option is by rail. Peoples' primary concerns when choosing their mode of transport is, in most instances, speed and convenience, probably followed by price (although exceptional variations in any of the three will inevitably impact peoples' choices). The issue of ticketing itself (as opposed to fares) is not something that enters into most peoples' minds really, until it comes to nearer the time.

    Most people are unaware that merely failing to use available ticketing facilities - even if done without any malicious intent (as my example above) - is an offence. And even those who know that such a kind of offence exists might think that things like "the queue took forever" are defences. So I think it's, again, simply that doesn't enter into the minds of most people that they could be doing anything wrong.

    Yes, although the customer should always be given an opportunity to try and fix the prpboem (e.g. by asking the person who sent the screenshot to send a better screenshot if possible). The benefit of the doubt should also always be given. Sadly both of these things fail to happen and then the kind of incident which was the subject of this newspaper article happens.
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2019
  23. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    I think those estimates must in fact be far lower than the real figures! I fear we will never know how many people are and were affected, and even once the problem stops happening I doubt that people who have already been unfairly prosecuted (or threatened therewith, thus agreeing to a settlement) will see any of their money back, let alone an apology.

    If this were anything other than the cushy Government-sanctioned rail industry there would be all sorts of investigations. But it falls into a gap where none of the agencies who oversee the rail industry are willing to do anything about it, let alone admit there is a problem.

    The only glimmer of hope is the fact that Transport Focus suggested that the law might be changing within a year, though they didn't elaborate on exactly how. Perhaps someone would like to make enquiries as to whether they have any news we're not aware of?
     
  24. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    It's difficult to say, as there isn't really sufficient information in the article. Also there is inconsistent information, and confusion. XC themselves appear to be confused about the difference between an "m ticket" and an "e ticket". It sounds like XC currently have a gap in their knowledge over fares matters.
     
  25. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    And precisely this confusion shows how, if even staff at the train company don't understand the difference, how on earth can they consider it acceptable to not only financially penalise customers for being confused and not understanding the rules, but to criminally prosecute them. Sigh...
     
  26. Trackman

    Trackman Member

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    That's how I read it too.
    I'm guessing originally they didn't know it was a screenshot and surmising it was scrollable to validate the QR code.
     
  27. js1000

    js1000 Member

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    The screenshot issue is nonsense. If you're allowed to use a print out of the QR code on the ticket email that someone else could use - what is the difference with a screenshot? I have used M-tickets occasionally but there seems a great deal of confusion about how these tickets are or should be used that is not well clarified in any clear detail by train operating companies.

    Also, CrossCountry should have gone further than simply refunding the £161 as if nothing happened. They threatened a passenger who had a valid ticket with prosecution and successfully bullied them into paying a fine. Simply refunding the fine is very poor and they should be disappointed with their actions. It is little surprise Joe public have such a low opinion of railway companies when you hear unfortunate stories like this.
     
  28. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    With Chris Grayling as Transport Secretary following his stint at undermining justice when he was the occupant of the role of Justice Secretary is it any great surprise that this disgraceful set of affairs exists? With so little appetite among most TOCs for simplifying fare structures and being less opaque about ticketing matters in general there really should be a Rail Omsbudman to deal not only with individual disputes but with the teeth and statutory powers to enforce their judgments, with 'cease and desist' powers to be used against recalcitrant operators and ever-increasing fines for those who refuse, by their continuing actions, to comply. The 'excuse' that an employee of a TOC may not be aware of company policy/regulations doesn't wash when the same ignorance keeps resurfacing. The number of judgments (and percentage of complaints found against individual companies) should be published on an annual basis and be a factor in (re)awarding contracts.
     
  29. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Technically it's not a QR code; it's a similar format called an Aztec code.
    http://blog.masabi.com/blog/mobile-ticketing-why-barcode
    The talk of screenshots* and activations are nonsense if we are talking about e-tickets.

    (* Using a screenshot isn't an issue in itself, unless it was obscured; there does seem to be some confusion about this in the article)
     
  30. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Wouldn't be the only ones. Boarded a VT at Euston lately?

    At least with the Euston VT barrier staff denial of travel is the worst you'll get, as VT do not check tickets on arrival so there is no scope to do anything other than refuse to allow someone to pass.
     
  31. The Phoenix

    The Phoenix New Member

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    E Tickets should be in a pdf version not a screenshot, screenshots are normally sent from person to person in order to avoid the railfares and this passenger has clearly not read the information on the presenting of the ticket.


    etickets are emailed as a PDF attachment to you, meaning you’ll need a mobile device that can open PDFs and has internet access to receive the email. You can use them in one of the following ways –

    • Open the PDF attachment and show the ticket on your mobile device.
    • Print the eticket.
    • Download the eticket on our app.
    • Download and show the eticket in your Apple Wallet if you are using an Apple Wallet enabled Apple device – there’ll be a live link in the email we send you.
    An eticket can only be used by one customer for one valid journey and it’s a criminal offence to amend and/or reproduce an eticket for fraudulent use. If two passengers show the same eticket for travel, they’ll could both be treated as invalid. You’re responsible for any fraudulent use of your eticket

    If the passenger did not agree with the prosecution why pay to settle before court and why go to the press. surely this is something that they should have fought in court if they believed they were in the right. I note that the TOC have said that they were correct in reporting the matter.

    Are all TOCS going to accept that anyone who does not comply with the rules can do as they please without penalty. its not about the prosecution whether right or wrong, The real issue is the lack of clarity within the terms and conditions I can find only one TOC who states that Screenshots are not permitted.

    So what is really needed is better clarity within the terms and conditions.
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2019

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