Excessing an Advance

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jthjth

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I purchased a YP first advance ticket at Berwick upon Tweed ticket office for a cross country service (for a different part of the country, not ex Berwick) for my son, who is currently on that train. The ticket clerk mistakenly issued the ticket as a standard. When I pointed this out she issued an excess to first and changed the reservation coupon to first. The ticket examiner on the XC service is claiming the ticket is invalid and advances can't be excessed and Berwick have got it wrong. I'm guessing Berwick have got it correct, as how could the system issue the correct excess? (The excess ticket brought the total price to what the first advance would have cost). Who is correct?
 
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yorkie

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An internal rail industry dispute; not the customer's concern!

If the XC Guard wants to make a meal of it, he/she can withdraw the original ticket, and provide a receipt and free of charge replacement coupon to allow the customer to complete their journey. They can then take it up with the retailer.

Presumably the Guard isn't asking for a new ticket to be sold?
 

najaB

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I'm guessing Berwick have got it correct, as how could the system issue the correct excess? (The excess ticket brought the total price to what the first advance would have cost). Who is correct?
It's possible to issue (almost) anything if you try hard enough. That's not your son's problem though as you went to the ticket office, asked for a ticket and used the tickets that they issued.

As Yorkie said, it is between VTEC and XC to sort it out.
 

jthjth

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I'm yet to see how this unfolds. He is travelling on a split ticket. The current portion is a properly issued first advance. The inspector cast doubt on the subsequent portion and said she would not accept it on her train. I assume this means she is going to get off before the next part becomes valid. I've just phoned XC customer relations, who have said my son is to ask the ticket examiner to phone them if there is a problem. They did however claim that advances can't be excessed.
 

yorkie

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I'm yet to see how this unfolds. He is travelling on a split ticket. The current portion is a properly issued first advance. The inspector cast doubt on the subsequent portion and said she would not accept it on her train. I assume this means she is going to get off before the next part becomes valid. I've just phoned XC customer relations, who have said my son is to ask the ticket examiner to phone them if there is a problem. They did however claim that advances can't be excessed.
The customer must not be made to leave the train and must not be charged a new ticket.
 

jthjth

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I should just point out though that the replacement ticket examiner has yet to look at the tickets, and so there is currently a potential problem and not an actual one.
 

furlong

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An excess completely converts one ticket (strictly "fare") into another ticket. So whatever the new ticket states, is the ticket that is held and that determines the contract that is in place - the process of excesses or whatever by which it was converted into the new ticket is of no relevance to the final version of the contract under which the passenger is travelling.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The reference for this is the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (available on the ATOC website):

“Excess Fare” means a variation in the Rights and Restrictions applicable to a Fare which has the effect of converting that Fare into another Fare.

and other parts of the document show how every Fare has to be formally approved and published.
 

jthjth

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An excess completely converts one ticket (strictly "fare") into another ticket. So whatever the new ticket states, is the ticket that is held and that determines the contract that is in place - the process of excesses or whatever by which it was converted into the new ticket is of no relevance to the final version of the contract under which the passenger is travelling.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The reference for this is the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (available on the ATOC website):



and other parts of the document show how every Fare has to be formally approved and published.

Ok, but I'm not sure I understand the practical upshot of this. Does this mean my son holds a valid ticket, regardless of how Berwick issued it?

By the way my son is extremely impressed about the speed of the advice on this forum:D
 

yorkie

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His ticket should be accepted, as he has entered into a contract with the rail industry.

XC may feel that the ticket wasn't issued correctly, but that is a matter they need to take up with the retailer.

They would be within their rights to withdraw it completely but only if they issue a replacement ticket covering the whole journey, or another practicable solution would be to take a photograph of the ticket, or note down the details, so it can be investigated later. But it really isn't the customers problem, and shouldn't be made out to be.
 

najaB

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Ok, but I'm not sure I understand the practical upshot of this. Does this mean my son holds a valid ticket, regardless of how Berwick issued it?
In short: yes.

He holds a ticket that was issued by the staff at a ticket office - the customer should not be penalised as a result of the (in)competence of the person who issued it.
 

jthjth

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This is just out of curiosity, rather than anything to do with my son's currently unfolding journey. Is it valid for the Berwick ticket office to issue an excess to an advance (that they issued in error), or are XC correct instating that an advance can't be excessed?

By the way, this all came about because of my reluctance to buy the tickets through trainsplit. That website came up with the trains, and a very reasonable fare. ( ca £45 from memory). However the website wanted another £20 or so in commission as its share of the "savings". Had they limited their commission to a couple of quid or so they would have got the business. The journey is Leicester to Newcastle by the way. I was in Berwick at the time, so I took the trainsplit output to the station and asked them to issue the tickets. The journey was composed of four tickets, and they managed to issue two of them as standards instead of first. The transaction total came to less than I expected and I pointed this out. The response was " it's not always cheaper online you know". So I then sat down and checked the issued tickets and discovered the two standard portions. I went back and pointed this out, and they then issued the two excesses to first and replaced the reservation coupons.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Final report on this saga. Son is on last leg of journey and the new ticket examiner did not question the ticket.
 

najaB

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This is just out of curiosity, rather than anything to do with my son's currently unfolding journey. Is it valid for the Berwick ticket office to issue an excess to an advance (that they issued in error), or are XC correct instating that an advance can't be excessed?
As I understand it, XC are correct that an Advance shouldn't normally be excessed. However, in this case since there was no change to the actual travel plans (same train, same time, different seat), I can see why Berwick chose to excess rather than non-issue the original ticket (with all the hassle that involved).
Final report on this saga. Son is on last leg of journey and the new ticket examiner did not question the ticket.
Common sense at last! :)
 

hairyhandedfool

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This is just out of curiosity, rather than anything to do with my son's currently unfolding journey. Is it valid for the Berwick ticket office to issue an excess to an advance (that they issued in error), or are XC correct instating that an advance can't be excessed?...

There is absolutely no problem with a ticket office 'excessing' a standard class Advance to a first class Advance on the same train, this is perfectly fine.

....The journey was composed of four tickets, and they managed to issue two of them as standards instead of first. The transaction total came to less than I expected and I pointed this out. The response was " it's not always cheaper online you know". So I then sat down and checked the issued tickets and discovered the two standard portions. I went back and pointed this out, and they then issued the two excesses to first and replaced the reservation coupons.

There is two ways to deal with this, the first is the excess fare, and, as I say, this is perfectly fine. The second is refund/non-issue the original tickets (no admin fee) and issue new tickets.

The second approach is how managers prefer things to be done for a case of 'wrongly issued' tickets, but is far more 'faffing around' than is necessary (especially if they use STAR), and also has the downside that, if you paid by Debit/Credit Card, you may, temporarily, be paying twice (waiting for the refund to process). Northern offices have had some instructions not to proceed with the refund/non-issue approach if the passenger states that they do not have the funds to cover the extra cost. Instructions on how best to proceed in these cases have been provided.
 
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gray1404

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What instructions have Northern been given - and for what sort of situation?

What concerns me in this case is the XC guard stating they'd not accept the ticket. This implies they'd tell the customer their ticket isn't valid.
 

yorkie

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By the way, this all came about because of my reluctance to buy the tickets through trainsplit. That website came up with the trains, and a very reasonable fare. ( ca £45 from memory). However the website wanted another £20 or so in commission ...
The people involved in Trainsplit are on this forum, I'll mention this thread so they see your feedback.

It is worth pointing out that advantages of using Trainsplit are that if travel plans change, only one £10 fee will be charged (some ticket offices or telesales may charge £10 per ticket), and if any rail staff try to deny validity of the combination (this is most likely to occur in the event of delays, for journeys involving multiple operators and/or when trains are re-timed/deleted at short notice) then Trainsplit will back you up and fight for your rights if necessary, and you get one itinerary confirming validity of the whole tickets as one journey, as clear evidence of a contract. In time, there will be other advantages too.

As the fee is charged as 10% of the saving, it would be very rare for a fee to be as high as £20! It means the saving would have been calculated as around £200!
 

NeilWatson

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This is just out of curiosity, rather than anything to do with my son's currently unfolding journey. Is it valid for the Berwick ticket office to issue an excess to an advance (that they issued in error), or are XC correct instating that an advance can't be excessed?

By the way, this all came about because of my reluctance to buy the tickets through trainsplit. That website came up with the trains, and a very reasonable fare. ( ca £45 from memory). However the website wanted another £20 or so in commission as its share of the "savings". Had they limited their commission to a couple of quid or so they would have got the business. The journey is Leicester to Newcastle by the way. I was in Berwick at the time, so I took the trainsplit output to the station and asked them to issue the tickets. The journey was composed of four tickets, and they managed to issue two of them as standards instead of first. The transaction total came to less than I expected and I pointed this out. The response was " it's not always cheaper online you know". So I then sat down and checked the issued tickets and discovered the two standard portions. I went back and pointed this out, and they then issued the two excesses to first and replaced the reservation coupons.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Final report on this saga. Son is on last leg of journey and the new ticket examiner did not question the ticket.

So Trainsplit found you a saving of around £200 on the journey (approx 80% from your figures above) but rather than pay them a reasonable 10% commission for their efforts you took the data they supplied to another vendor?

That doesn't really help them to improve the product for others....
 

najaB

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So Trainsplit found you a saving of around £200 on the journey (approx 80% from your figures above) but rather than pay them a reasonable 10% commission for their efforts...
Your definition of 'reasonable' isn't necessarily the same as other's. Some would say that Trainline's £1.50 booking fee is reasonable.

I can see how a fee of 44% of the ticket price could put one off.
 
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SickyNicky

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By the way, this all came about because of my reluctance to buy the tickets through trainsplit. That website came up with the trains, and a very reasonable fare. ( ca £45 from memory). However the website wanted another £20 or so in commission as its share of the "savings". Had they limited their commission to a couple of quid or so they would have got the business.

Hi there. I'm glad we managed to save you what sounds like a significant sum of money. That's what we're here for.

Of course, we have got some fairly hefty costs to cover, which is why we charge the "savings fee". If everyone used us to research tickets but then booked them elsewhere, we would very soon be out of business. We have a new version coming out soon which will improve both the results and the speed, and after that we'll still be working on further improvements. Again, this all costs money.

However, I accept that when the saving is very high, the "share of saving" is also high, perhaps too high for people to stomach. This will get to be more of a problem as our system gets better at finding more obscure splits and routes. I'll talk to my colleagues again about this, to see if it's possible to "cap" it in some way.
 

yorkie

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So Trainsplit found you a saving of around £200 on the journey (approx 80% from your figures above) but rather than pay them a reasonable 10% commission for their efforts you took the data they supplied to another vendor?

That doesn't really help them to improve the product for others....
Ouch! To be fair these are exceptional circumstances. The through fare would be the ludicrously priced £232.20 fare. Bizarrely, it's considerably cheaper for the via Peterborough fare (£160.50, set by VTEC, who will also give you much more value for money!), but that's XC pricing for you!

In reality, a passenger would probably get an Off Peak Return (£100.50) and a Weekend 1st upgrade (which, at most, would be around £30 between EMT & XC), but as the weekend 1st upgrades probably can't be bought online (okay, the XC one can, but - without checking - I think this is probably only on their own website) and there is no through weekend 1st upgrade available, and even if there was, there are other issues with weekend 1st....

In the majority of cases, the fees will be far more reasonable than this.
 

najaB

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However, I accept that when the saving is very high, the "share of saving" is also high, perhaps too high for people to stomach. This will get to be more of a problem as our system gets better at finding more obscure splits and routes. I'll talk to my colleagues again about this, to see if it's possible to "cap" it in some way.
That would be excellent as the fixed percentage method will mean that people will tend to only buy from you when the savings are small, and do exactly what jthjth for the better-value tickets - which is the opposite of what you'd like!
 

jthjth

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I did email trainsplit, and did indeed suggest a cap on the commission, but unfortunately I got no response at all.

I think the through first class fare was something in the region of £200, hence the large commission. My own home brew basic split at Derby came to around £66, ie EMT to Derby and then XC Derby to Newcastle. So, if I did purchase my ticket via trainsplit I'd have been no better off once commission had been paid.

Perhaps a cap of 10% of the split fare might work? I think I might have been willing to go for £4.50 as the commission. So 10% of the saving or 10% of the actual fare, whichever is the lower?
 

hairyhandedfool

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What instructions have Northern been given - and for what sort of situation?...

It's purely workarounds for the systems and processes in place, where staff (and sometimes even passengers) have made mistakes, to ensure passengers get what they wanted for in the first place, without them risking losing out on the fares they should/could have been offered. An example of where the workarounds might be necessary is where a passenger might have been sold, by mistake, a Railcard to start today, when the clerk knew their existing one is valid for another week, and they only have £29 in their bank account. The exact nature of the workarounds are of no benefit to the genuine passenger and I'm sure Northern would not appreciate me making them public.
 

yorkie

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Just a postscript to my son's saga of today. I've just been speaking to him on the phone, and he said the first inspector said she would have thrown him off the train had she been the inspector on the stretch covered by the excessed ticket....
I'd write to the company about this. Although the vast majority of XC Guards are great, there is a noticeable minority who appear to want to mistreat customers. This is not an isolated case, and it's important that the company addresses what is a clear training issue.
 

jthjth

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I'm not going to press this with XC, because I understand that being a train guard and dealing with the great British public is a tough job, and occasionally things go wrong. Had she actually thrown my son off the train I might be taking a different view. If anyone from XC is reading this they might want to consider staff training. (Eg advances can be excessed, and not everyone is out to defraud the railway)
 

Merseysider

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I'm not going to press this with XC, because I understand that being a train guard and dealing with the great British public is a tough job, and occasionally things go wrong. Had she actually thrown my son off the train I might be taking a different view. If anyone from XC is reading this they might want to consider staff training. (Eg advances can be excessed, and not everyone is out to defraud the railway)
However, by bringing it to the company's attention, you are possibly saving others from such a situation. It is of course your choice. Company managers have been known to look at the forum from time to time so there is a chance they'd know there's an issue, but not the specifics.
 

JonnyG

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For future reference the relevant National Rail page is http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/ticket_types/46557.aspx

In general, as long as you are travelling on the same train, a standard class Advance ticket can be upgraded to the equivalent first class ticket type on paying the difference in fare. No admin fee applies - apart from CrossCountry who charge £10 per Advance single journey. Although as I found out at King's Cross last year, staff do not always seem to be aware that no admin fee applies.
 

gray1404

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I'm really disappointed that the OP doesn't want to make XC aware of this and prevent another innocent passenger being thrown off the train.
 

DaveNewcastle

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. . . if any rail staff try to deny validity . . . . . then Trainsplit will back you up and fight for your rights if necessary, . . . .
I'm intrigued to learn more about Trainspilt's ability to expose themselves to the risks of 'fighting for your rights'. What level of risk is Trainsplit willing to accept on behalf of purchasers of tickets through their service? And up to what limit of indemnity to those customers? What cover is there if the other party makes a further claim against Trainspilt's customer?

And also, in the context of this thread, exactly what 'rights' are Trainsplit ready to 'fight' within this scheme ?

Thanks.
 

jthjth

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I'm really disappointed that the OP doesn't want to make XC aware of this and prevent another innocent passenger being thrown off the train.
OP here. I don't wish to sound self righteous over this issue but here are my motivations on not raising the issue directly with XC. People with public facing jobs often get a hard time from the great British public. Occasionally they themselves get things wrong as a result of their experiences. As the inspector only made comments as to what she might do and did not actually carry any of them out no actual harm was done. As a member of the public, I rely on people like train guards, policemen etc to occasionally intervene in nasty situations on my behalf. I'm not willing to make their life a potential misery with their employer over something that is relatively trivial in the grand scheme of life. If this inspector actually has a habit of actually throwing people off trains for the wrong reasons I'm sure the consequences will eventually catch up with her. I say this as someone with a desk bound job, who is quite relieved not to have to deal with some of the more unsavoury members of society.

On an entirely different matter, I'd really like to thank the people who took the trouble to answer this thread in such a knowledgeable and prompt manner.

I do hope the split ticket folk can get their commission system sorted out, as their site provides a useful service. Would I be correct in thinking that they also get the standard commission for selling a rail ticket, so their "percentage of the savings" commission is on top of this?
 
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