Excess a Single Ticket to a Return?

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Goatboy, 28 Oct 2011.

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  1. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    Hi guys,

    In a state of flustered panic the girlfriend, upon finding out that the ticket office at the station was shut in the evening peak, the train was cancelled and there was nobody around to ask for assistance, purchased an offpeak single ticket instead of the return ticket she wanted.

    Her mistake wasn't noticed until the tickets printed as the single ticket was only 5 pence cheaper than the return ticket, she didn't twig until after entering her PIN into the card reader.

    She went straight to the first manned ticket office on her journey, when changing trains, to explain the problem and ask if she can pay an excess fare to get the correct ticket type. She wsa told this was not possible

    Obviously I'm aware this is her error but was this information correct? I'm pretty sure I've paid excess fares in the past without a big deal. The single ticket was only 5p cheaper and she went to a staffed ticket office 20 minutes into a 5 hour outward journey so its clearly an obvious mistake rather than an attempt a few days later to blag a cheap ride home.

    On the assumption that the request is declined and in desperate search for a silver lining in this particular cloud, what is she entitled to claim back as a result of the delay? She will be arriving into her destination station over an hour later than planned as a result of the cancellation. Is she in a better position with a single ticket than she would have been with a return? Hopefully this will go some way towards subsidising the cost of this expensive mistake..
     
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  3. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    You can excess a single to a return and, as she went out of her way to find somewhere to change it, I think they should have (even if it was at the end of her journey) It might have been best to wait to see a guard though, as they tend to be better at excess fares.

    As for what compensation would be given due to a delay, it depends which train company delayed her, some would offer more for a single than a return (unless the single is half the price of the return), some would say she is only entitled if she was delayed by more than 60 minutes.
     
  4. district

    district Member

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    It's dissapointing that your girlfriend was refused this excess, did they give a reason?
    Also if you let me know the details of the train and the company I'll be more than happy to find the relevant delay repay details.
     
  5. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    Thanks guys.

    The train in question was the 16:52 Great Malvern to Southampton Central.

    I'm not sure whether she bought the ticket before or after the intended departure time of the cancelled train as she spent time on the phone to me asking what to do and time trying to find a member of station staff. She travels on this particular service each time she travels down to see me. No reason was given by the ticket office staff member.

    Dissapointing she was refused an Excess even though one was available but encouraging to know it is an option. I'll pop down to my local station with the ticket tommorrow and see where we can go from there. She will have completed her journey by then but the office will be closed when she eventually completes it this evening so tommorrow is the first opportunity to try again.

    Thanks!
     
  6. district

    district Member

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    If I am right in thinking that the described service is 2O00 operated by First Great Western, then sadly because they do not run a delay repay scheme and as you aren't a monthly season ticket holder you wouldn't automatically be entitled to compensation.

    If this service is a former First Great Western service, or a former First Great Western link service, or a former Wessex Trains service, then you'd be entitled to at least 50% of the face value of the ticket in National Rail travel vouchers. I'm not sure if this applies in your case but I hope another member will be along to advise accordingly.

    I still can't understand why a booking office refused to make an excess, I'd advise you to contact London Midland who manage the station to determine what has happened... you can contact them by writing to Customer Services Team, London Midland, PO Box 4323, Birmingham, B2 4JB, by ringing 0844 811 0133 (or 0121 634 2040 from mobile). You can email comments@londonmidland.com and you can also tweet them @londonmidland. Wait, I've made a mistake, which station did she get refused the excess at? Didn't read the OP properly :eek:

    I'd be really interested to find out why she was refused a simple excess!
     
    Last edited: 28 Oct 2011
  7. clagmonster

    clagmonster Established Member

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    To clarify, was this the cancelled train? If so, then it was operated by First Great Western (previously Wessex Trains). She is therefore entitled to a refund of 50% of the cost of the single ticket or if you manageto get the excess to a return then it will be 25% of the cost of the return ticket. See this link: http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/Content.aspx?id=2420
    The claim form is available at staffed stations served by FGW and also here:
    http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/...nsation for Delays - April 2006 313451.00.pdf

    To check this, the time at which the ticket was printed will be printed in the bottom right hand corner of the ticket.
     
  8. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    Hi guys,

    Sadly the excess request was again denied when I went with her to my local station yesterday. They claimed that as she had used the single ticket, she was not able to excess it to a return ticket. She was therefore forced to buy another single ticket.

    I did point out that there was no opportunity to either refund the single ticket purchased in error or excess it prior to using it as the staffed station at Great Malvern had been closed early but as this is a London Midland station and my local station was a Great Western station this didn't really get me anywhere.

    I'll go the compensation route for the delay but I can see that being thrown out as well. By the time she'd searched the station for staff to advise her on the cancellation and called me to ask about the cancellation the eventual purchase time on the ticket was 3 minutes after the scheduled departure of the cancelled train, which I assume makes her ineligable for compensation :(
     
  9. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Goatboy - Draft up a letter to send to FGW, PM it to me and I'll proof read it, if you like? The ticket should have been excessed on board the FGW train, and we can ask FGW if they can ensure that guards will be suitably trained on excesses in future.

    A similar letter could be sent to London Midland - there's no good reason why they couldn't do the excess, either. I have contacts at LM so am hopeful of a good outcome there.
     
  10. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    I am not sure that guards are actually compelled to do that by The Manual. It is possible to do, but there is nothing to say it must be done.

    Certainly FGW might be interested in this episode from a customer relations perspective, if nothing else!
     
  11. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    If that argument is made, then the DfT/ATOC/Passenger Focus will need to be contacted, and escalated to MPs if necessary. If there is a suggestion that TOCs can profit from mistakes made at TVMs, then we need to take the matter further.
     
  12. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    To be fair here, it is the passengers mistake in this case. From a customer service pov, it might be good to excess it and I suppose some commission for the guard is better than none, but I agree there is no reason that the guard must do it.
     
  13. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    It is absolutely a user mistake - it was her fault, simple as really.

    You can see how it's made though. A closed station which should have been open, a cancelled train with no alternative information, an unresponsive touch-screen ticketing machine and a single ticket so close in price to the return that even when verifying the amount there was no real clue it was the wrong ticket.

    It's not a mistake you or I would have made but then we are more than just members of the public, I guess, given we are all here because we have an interest in railways.

    But there are so many circumstances which conspired to develop the mistake. It wouldnt have been an issue had LM not prematurely closed the ticket office as she'd have just purchased it from the booth as she usually does every time she makes this particular journey.

    I'm really appreciate of the thoughts and opinions, mind. I'll keep you posted on the outcome!

    I've found FGW to be quite responsive in times of complaint. I once got a full refund and £20 on top in vouchers when I almost missed a flight when an HST failed at Taunton, for example.

    I'm wondering if the best chance here is to focus on the late arrival rather than the wrong ticket.
     
  14. robbob700

    robbob700 Member

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    As a software developer,I was always told that there was no such thing as user error, only poorly designed interfaces and software.

    Although that may be a little simplistic, I am not convinced that the TVM interface would win any awards for its design! I'm sure that the same mistake would not have been made if there was a manned ticket office available.
     
  15. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    Because people never make mistakes?

    When I worked in London, the old style self service machines were in use and even with the buttons clearly labelled as single or return, we still had people buying the wrong ones.
     
  16. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    The TVM software I've used in the South East has been pretty badly written and there are loads of things to confuse Joe Public (and I include myself here, as I feel I have to really concentrate when buying anything other than the most single tickets). The differing highlighted/promoted fares can catch anyone out, including me. My parents, for example, bought London Terminals tickets from a TVM at Cheshunt, thinking it was to any London Terminal. There was little to explain otherwise - while the fare that offered to go to any Central London station wasn't highlighted, so would have required a bit more searching.

    FCC obviously sell First class tickets - but it can easily read like they're 'First' tickets and I wonder if anyone buys them thinking they're for use on First Capital Connect trains? I'd like to say 'nobody would be that stupid' but I bet people do.

    The interface is also poor in terms of navigation, and if you make a mistake and cancel your step then you're likely returned right back to the start. There are also excessive delays with no option to skip - which frustrates when you're in a rush, or there's a queue. Oh, and the interface isn't standard for any one TOC. FCC has at least two different systems, and regardless of the fact that they're from different manufacturers - the software should operate the same (see Sky for how they specify to each hardware maker the need to run the same software). Imagine learning how to find your ticket on one machine, then tomorrow you use the machine next to it and it's totally different?

    Any ticket issued from a TVM should be treated differently to one from a manned ticket office, as there's a good chance the user made a mistake.

    This is why TVMs shouldn't be used exclusively on the railway, at least until they invest in some proper usability testing, as well as making it easier to read (and understand) the various restrictions on a ticket. These things have never heard of the 'Plain English' campaign for one!

    Now proper research and testing might also work out whether you have a huge list of tickets, or start by asking which station someone wants to go to (or a Travelcard where applicable) and then ask if it is a single, return. If return, returning when? What class - basically like an online booking engine would work. Discounts should also be automatically applied, or highlighted (such as groupsave). When getting the option to add a railcard, users should be made to confirm a disclaimer that says the railcard must be in-date and present when using the tickets, so there is no doubt (i.e. the restrictions have been advised).
     
    Last edited: 31 Oct 2011
  17. snail

    snail Established Member

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    I use TVMs a lot and have made the same mistake. If you're in a bit of a rush or travelling somewhere different the screen layout isn't that great in distinguishing between single and return tickets. It would be much better to have a simple 'single or return' screen before you get to the ticket types instead of listing them together.
     
  18. LexyBoy

    LexyBoy Established Member Fares Advisor

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    I've made the same mistake too.

    Select ticket - add railcard - oh, I have to pick a ticket again - there we go, first one on the list is the right price - purchase - why have I only got one ticket oh that's why...
     
  19. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    I used to do it if I was satisfied the customer made a genuine mistake (and they didn't put their single ticket in the barriers.)

    For other "mistakes", such as coming to me having used an out of date return portion of a CDR and asking for an excess to SVR, usually yielded a PF or TIR. The key is getting it resolved ASAP and if they haven't been instructed otherwise, staff should try to help out passengers with this.
     
  20. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    She did it at the first manned station she had to change trains at. Or at least tried to :p
     
  21. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    Unless I've misread something, I don't think that she asked to excess the ticket on board. The issue came at the first station at which she was refused an excess - as the first staffed station into a longer journey, it really should have been offered there.
     
  22. handsomelife

    handsomelife Member

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    I'm not sure how true this is, I was aware that once the journey has been completed then a single cannot be X/S'd to a return.
     
  23. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    If there was no opportunity to excess it at the start of her journey, the excess can be done at the first reasonable opportunity, which could easily be at the end of the journey.
     
  24. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    After making up all the excuses in the world, it doesn't change the fact that it is clearly shown on the menu whether the ticket is a single or return. It is then shown again the ticket details once it has been selected, which would clearly have said single. On some machines at least, it will show a third time when you have to insert payment. Seems fairly foolproof to me. This is working under the assumption that the user has the ability to read.

    As for ticket offices, unfortunately there are a fair few people within the grade who are quite simply, idiots. It has gotten to the point where I now write into TOCs to praise staff who both showed a positive attitude and issued what I needed. It's nice to receive the same level of service that I used to give my customers. I don't bother complaining about bad service as it's essentially pointless.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Like I said, as a ticket office clerk, I used to do it. So it is true.
     
  25. snail

    snail Established Member

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    Ah, but that's a false assumption. It's not the words, it's their layout that is confusing.

    Or maybe you are right and I can't read? Oh dear. :cry:
     
  26. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    I do wish the First ticket machines would say 'First Class...' and not just 'First' as I think that's bound to be misleading for some people. Even if only a few people make the mistake, it's still wrong!
     
  27. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Side-tracking the issue, if they renamed themselves to Worst Group then such mistakes will not occur. ;)

    Yes I agree that emphasising the fact that it is First Class can help reduce the number of mistakes made, although some will inevitably remain for a whole host of other reasons.
     
  28. Caped Crusader

    Caped Crusader Member

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    I'm gonna go off on one here so please bear with me, I'm amongst friends so I thought what the heck.....

    There are a few issues here, the first and in the customers mind the most important is the myriad of fares/routes/ticket types available. It is confusing and in no way user friendly, the only way to combat this is to simplify the fare structure on a NATIONAL basis so that customers are confident that the ticket they are buying from the TVM's are the correct and best value for the journey they are doing. Never Gonna Happen!

    The other way is to staff ticket offices from first train until last, with properly trained and motivated ticket office staff. Never Gonna Happen!

    With the TOC's reliance on internet and TVM's to cover the retail aspect of our railways and a ticketing structure that seems to get more complicated by the day, unless you have a copy of the routeing guide and an intimate knowledge of restrictions then in all probability you will be paying more for your journey than you should, or more seriously be travelling on an invalid ticket!

    Having said that the internet and TVM's are self service, that means they issue the tickets that YOU have asked for. 99.9% of the time if it is wrong you have only one person to blame, look in the mirror.

    I spend a great deal of my time trying to sort out problems with internet booked or TVM bought tickets, I try to assist but ultimately it isn't my fault you purchased the wrong tickets!

    I sympathise, I truly do. On a recent, but rare, trip out I tried 2 different TVM's on the same station, within 2 minutes of each other, same destination, same train over £50 difference in what was offered.

    Simple fare structure, my arse!
     
  29. island

    island Established Member

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    Some simplification on TVMs would be nice, but what would be nicer would be an "advanced mode" where you could key in NLCs or CRS codes rather than slowly typing one character of your destination at a time.
     
  30. Caped Crusader

    Caped Crusader Member

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    You cannot have simpification on TVM's within the current structure. Impartiality means there are too many fares/routes/TOC only tickets in the system. For a 'Self Service' internet or TVM based ticketing system, then it is my opinion, that a radical overhaul of the whole National fares structure is needed.

    You cannot expect an occasional traveller or tourist to even begin to understand what we have at the moment. I pity them and the consequences of making genuine mistakes are, potentially, far too high.
     
  31. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    If you engage your brain whilst looking at what is written (otherwise known as reading,) you most likely wouldn't make the mistake of buying a single when you want a return, or vice versa. Reading requires a certain degree of brain engagement, whilst merely looking at a screen doesn't. Is this really so insurmountable? I don't see how all the simplification in the world can help someone who's telling a "dumb" machine exactly what they want it to issue, without reading the options on offer.

    Queues are already long enough at ticket machines without more unnecessary menus being added!

    Agreed, but some people expect to have their ar*es wiped for them among other things. Cries for simplifcation seem a bit pathetic when the basis is basic mistakes being made by people who for some reason, choose not to engage their brain whilst on railway property.

    Indeed, there is a distinction between switching one's brain off and being genuinely unfamiliar with the system. A friend who almost never travels by rail bought a single from Haslemere to London Terminals, unaware that through tickets are available to any station in the UK (we were going somewhere in Essex.) When we met at Waterloo, I took them to the ticket office, explained the situation to the clerk and very specifically asked for an overdistance excess to our destination. This was done and the clerk was kind enough to explain to my friend how using the excess ticket in conjunction with the original, on the tube worked etc. Letter of praise has been sent to SWT for good customer service - no less than what I gave to every single one of my customers.

    Indeed I dealt with many people on a daily basis, similarly unfamiliar with the system and took pride in explaining the basics of what they needed to know. Note: obsessive levels of knowledge/waffle relayed in full glory to confused non-enthusiasts is not required in 99.99% of cases, as is frequently seen in certain places. The only ever time I needed it to deal with a customer, was when an enthusiast turned up at the information point with a ticket to some shack in Wales and demanded to know precisely where the ticket was valid, by which routes etc, their p*ss poor attitude giving the staff a headache. I was in the ticket office at the time and received a phone call to assist, so I went up and ended up printing a load of Routeing Guide maps, tables, rules and restriction pages from The Manual. This was very much a minority case.

    Queues are already long enough at ticket machines without more unnecessary menus being added! Suggestions for TVMs to become super advanced would simply upset the majority of people. It seems that there is a struggle for a balance between an astute understanding of this area of the railways and understanding of how to interact with all types of customer in a way that will not either confuse them or p*ss them off with irrelevance. Sadly there are very few people out there with a good understanding of both - it largely seems to be a case of one or the other :(.
     
    Last edited: 2 Nov 2011
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