Fares repressed by Ticket Vending Machines

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Oscar

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I would be interested in finding out when Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) repress specific fares and what the differences between TVMs with regards to this are. I am unable to see a pattern in which fares are and are not repressed.

For example, at a Shere Fast Ticket machine this afternoon I discovered that on choosing "Tickets for travel today" and destination London the Super Off-Peak Return (SSR) and Anytime Return (SOR) were offered but not the Off-Peak Return (SVR) which, unlike the Super Off-Peak Return, has no evening restrictions on the return portion. Then choosing "Tickets for travel tomorrow" only the Off-Peak Return (SVR) and Anytime Return (SOR) were offered. Choosing Leeds as the destination I then found that all fares (including redundant Anytime Day Returns - SDRs) were offered for travel today but only Anytime fares for travel tomorrow.

As mentioned in a recent Passenger Focus report, using TVMs can be very confusing for passengers and so programming them appropriately is clearly a crucial aspect of impartial retailing.
 
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yorkie

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The National Rail site says that all tickets in the Off Peak category are available to buy at any time, so the operators of ticket machines that do this are on shaky grounds.

Of course I am sure they will deny it's a tactic to get more revenue from people who overpay, but many people will see it as that.
 

RJ

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The National Rail site says that all tickets in the Off Peak category are available to buy at any time, so the operators of ticket machines that do this are on shaky grounds.

Of course I am sure they will deny it's a tactic to get more revenue from people who overpay, but many people will see it as that.

Having worked in a ticket office, I can confirm first hand that people ignore the restrictions shown on the TVM, then bombard staff demanding to know why the machine sold them a ticket that they can't use.

Given that a significant amount of people need saving from themselves, I think it's the lesser of two evils!
 

paul1609

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The National Rail site says that all tickets in the Off Peak category are available to buy at any time, so the operators of ticket machines that do this are on shaky grounds.

Of course I am sure they will deny it's a tactic to get more revenue from people who overpay, but many people will see it as that.

You should try using the machines at Ashford int. first thing in the morning before the ticket office opens at weekends. Hoards of people will be gathered around totally confused by the ticket types to london. Somebody will shout out look theres somebody who knows how to use the machines!
i think my record is 7 transactions for other people before I break free and go to platform 5! i jest not!!



 

michael769

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Your account says an awful lot about the rail industry's corporate attitude to service. And none of it is very nice!
 

yorkie

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If ticket machines were easier to use, these problems wouldn't happen (and FCC wouldn't be intending to prosecute someone for paying £2 more than the cheapest valid ticket from a machine).
 

RJ

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Your account says an awful lot about the rail industry's corporate attitude to service. And none of it is very nice!

Where do I purport to represent anyone's opinions other than my own? It's a fact that people make a decision not to take notice of information that's made available to them. TOCs put important information on the screens of TVMs, but for one reason or another, some people decide it's not worth taking in. What can really be done about that? Removing intrinsically unnecessary options goes some way towards making it easier for people to use.
 

table38

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The new Manchester Metrolink TVM's are a little more intuitive once you get used to them.

You enter destination and the number of adults/children, then it asks the "type" of ticket (Single, Return, Saver, Season), then there is a different submenu for each ticket type.

It's odd having to put in a destination when you want an Adult Saver which is valid to all stations, but once you get the hang of that, it makes sense.

There's a PDF guide here
 

cuccir

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As long as ticket offices are open, then having some restrictions on tickets available from ticket machines doesn't seem a bad idea. It's never something that's affected me, but we have heard of frustrating situations whereby tickets are not available until precisely the time from which they are valid: so if an off-peak ticket is only valid on a journey from 09:30, and a train leaves at 09:31, this is a bit of a problem!

Ideally, as software improves, machines will become smarter and will be better at showing restrictions. Eventually, this could remove the need to have such limitations on available tickets.
 
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If ticket machines were easier to use, these problems wouldn't happen (and FCC wouldn't be intending to prosecute someone for paying £2 more than the cheapest valid ticket from a machine).

If the fare structure in the UK was simpler then the ticket machines would be simpler to use :lol:

The industry cannot win, just today I had a complaint that tickets for travel 3 weeks in advance were not available at the TVM's. It wasn't just a whinge but a full on rant where the words disgusting, disgraceful and jobsworth were used multiple times.

ITSO will hopefully give the fares structure the kick up the backside it so desperately needs (if I survive long enough to see it implemented).
 

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Your account says an awful lot about the rail industry's corporate attitude to service. And none of it is very nice!

I find that a little bit disrespectful if im honest. Id say that the railway itself has become even more customer focused and friendly then it ever was in my experience so much as you are now called customers and not passengers and some Customer services depts will bend over backwards to rectify problems.

Of course we dont get everything right but what business does?

And again maybe if some passengers bothered to hit the little information icon on a TVM that tells them the info required then maybe they wouldnt get it wrong, but lets not blame the passengers, lets blame the TOCs instead because its everyone elses fault but the passengers isnt it.
 

RJ

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Indeed - many staff try their hardest to do their best with what is available to them and probably 98 out of 100 railway staff I encounter come across are pleasant people just doing their job. Whatever this supposed "corporate attitude to service" is supposed to be smacks more of an embittered individual who has been jaded by a bad experience - but certainly no reason to attack the industry as a whole, or me because I tell the truth.
 

michael769

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I find that a little bit disrespectful if im honest. Id say that the railway itself has become even more customer focused and friendly then it ever was in my experience so much as you are now called customers and not passengers and some Customer services depts will bend over backwards to rectify problems.

I agree that front line staff do a superb job under often very difficult circumstances trying to help passengers. However that difficult job is frequently done without adequate support or backup from their employers. I have on at least two occasions this year witnessed front line staff faced with over 100 angry passengers demanding information having to beg over their radios to be told what was going on. Such a scene should simply not happen.

My problem is not with the staff but with the way that ToCs and Network Rail are run. If the companies involved had any interest whatsoever in treating their paying passengers (who also via the tax system pay the very generousness subsidies many of these companies enjoy) as anything other than an inconvenience, we would see front line staff being given the support to do their job even in cases of disruption.

The fact that ToCs are happy to purchase and deploy TVMs that normal travelers find insurmountably difficult to use, and thus are clearly unfit for purpose is IMO symptomatic of thais negative attitude, as is the the need to Passenger Focus, the Regulators and Government to find way of compelling ToCs to improve their performance.

If the companies and their board level management displayed the same attitude to customer service that their front line staff did, I am confident we would not see level of complaints that we do at the moment.
 

Skymonster

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The concept of restricting the range of fares available from TVMs on the basis that the average (or even just a few) customers can't understand what they're buying into stinks - it's corporate greed and laziness (on the part of the TOCs and their system suppliers) that's penalising those who legitimately want to buy a valid ticket but can't because someone can't be bothered to fix the problem - make the TVMs more easy to understand and make the restrictions clearer. To defend the removal of such tickets on the basis that it sometimes subsequently causes customers to get angry with staff is totally missing the point - fix the problem rather than create more obstacles that skirt round it.

Computer programming isn't that much of a challenge these days - how difficult to put a display up after a customer has selected a ticket saying "these are the restrictions on the ticket you're buying - touch the on-screen button to acknowledge and accept these restrictions"...?
 

island

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Those buttons exist and do not shut down complaints from people.
 

paul1609

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If the fare structure in the UK was simpler then the ticket machines would be simpler to use :lol:

The industry cannot win, just today I had a complaint that tickets for travel 3 weeks in advance were not available at the TVM's. It wasn't just a whinge but a full on rant where the words disgusting, disgraceful and jobsworth were used multiple times.

ITSO will hopefully give the fares structure the kick up the backside it so desperately needs (if I survive long enough to see it implemented).

I couldnt agree more Ashford is an extreme example but I believe that at the weekend there are over 20 fare variations on a return to London. Most people just want a Plus HS1 travelcard but can't find it! I dont understand what all the variations are, I guess the ticket office staff would be hard pressed to explain them all. Things have got to change.



 

RJ

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The concept of restricting the range of fares available from TVMs on the basis that the average (or even just a few) customers can't understand what they're buying into stinks - it's corporate greed and laziness (on the part of the TOCs and their system suppliers) that's penalising those who legitimately want to buy a valid ticket but can't because someone can't be bothered to fix the problem - make the TVMs more easy to understand and make the restrictions clearer. To defend the removal of such tickets on the basis that it sometimes subsequently causes customers to get angry with staff is totally missing the point - fix the problem rather than create more obstacles that skirt round it.

Computer programming isn't that much of a challenge these days - how difficult to put a display up after a customer has selected a ticket saying "these are the restrictions on the ticket you're buying - touch the on-screen button to acknowledge and accept these restrictions"...?

All of what you suggest is already available on TVMs. People choose not to read the information shown on the screen.

 

Smethwickian

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All of what you suggest is already available on TVMs. People choose not to read the information shown on the screen.


I choose not to read the incorrect weekend time restrictions (in fact, there should not be any) given on the screen of Virgin Trains' ticket machines at Birmingham New Street when buying Birmingham Stations to London Terminals 'route London Midland-only' super off peak returns.

The same machines, incidentally, that will only sell 'route Chiltern' tickets for certain Birmingham to London fares, rather than identical 'route High Wycombe' fares, thus deliberately preventing any use of the tickets on LM/VT/XC between Birmingham New Street and Banbury via Coventry (though oddly also, I presume, denying those operators a share of the ORCATS revenue whether passengers go that way or not).
 

bb21

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All of what you suggest is already available on TVMs. People choose not to read the information shown on the screen.

May I suggest that the heart of the problem seems to be the Customer Service department bending over backwards which then completely undermines the actions of front-line staff?

If a passenger is told the the truth when he/she is wrong rather than offered an apology then a lesson might be learned.

That said, I do not see how this is an excuse not to sell the full range of fares available from the TVM. A company should be man enough to turn around and say, "You agreed to the restrictions when you bought the ticket, so it is not our fault that you cannot stick to them."

The same machines, incidentally, that will only sell 'route Chiltern' tickets for certain Birmingham to London fares, rather than identical 'route High Wycombe' fares, thus deliberately preventing any use of the tickets on LM/VT/XC between Birmingham New Street and Banbury via Coventry (though oddly also, I presume, denying those operators a share of the ORCATS revenue whether passengers go that way or not).

Are they actually Route Chiltern Only tickets printed as such or are they really Route Via High Wycombe, just described inappropriately on the TVM?
 

RJ

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May I suggest that the heart of the problem seems to be the Customer Service department bending over backwards which then completely undermines the actions of front-line staff?

If a passenger is told the the truth when he/she is wrong rather than offered an apology then a lesson might be learned.

That said, I do not see how this is an excuse not to sell the full range of fares available from the TVM. A company should be man enough to turn around and say, "You agreed to the restrictions when you bought the ticket, so it is not our fault that you cannot stick to them."

Some Customer Service Managers have probably come from the retail industry, where demand is far more elastic and bad customer service has a much larger impact on revenues. I can think of a few companies which have policies that allow customers to take the p*ss, yet still bend over backwards for them as you say. Virgin have done just what you suggested though - remember that family who got on the wrong train from Coventry for London with Advance tickets? Virgin may have been lambasted for it in the media, but they stuck to their guns, unlike East Coast, who wimped out over the Darlington professor case.

Anyways, from a personal point of view, it would be great if TVMs offered more options. However, it's the majority who need to be catered for. That means removing unnecessary functionality and tickeing options, which does actually make the TVM simpler to use. When I do need to use a TVM (invariably to top up Oyster,) I don't want to spend all day being stuck behind a queue of people who are confused by the amount of options and menus available to them.

I'm quite lucky. When the bus deposits me home at 3am, there's a Southern TVM as bus stop also serves my local shack. I can play with it to my heart's content, buying my EMT tickets and exploring other options. The only thing I wish it could do was tickets for any date, but just being able to purchase tickets from a different station has opened up many possibilities that were previously unavailable without a ticket office clerk unhelpfully trying to be helpful with their incorrect advice of what Off Peak means, or suspicious of me for wanting a ticket from a different stop.

Now, that's fine as at 3am, there are no trains and the place is dead. What I don't want, is to be in a hurry in the middle of the day, only to find an enthusiast or confused passenger spending forever mulling over the options. It's bad enough that people abuse the ToD facility by choosing the busiest part of the day to print off all their tickets! Once had to wait whilst some nutter decided to print off 35 of those cheapo Advance tickets Southern did a while back :roll:
 

sheff1

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It's bad enough that people abuse the ToD facility by choosing the busiest part of the day to print off all their tickets!

When I am given a collection reference for ticket(s) it does not contain any information as to what time I should, or should not, collect the tickets other than they will be ready in 2 hours. I therefore choose to collect the tickets when I happen to be passing through or by the station anyway and I imagine that is what other people do as well.

Unsurprisingly, more people pass through a station at the busiest times than at the quietest times. Quite how collecting tickets at the time you are there anyway is abusing the facility I really fail to see.

Now if all tickets were Print at Home, which is the norm elsewhere ...
 

RJ

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When I am given a collection reference for ticket(s) it does not contain any information as to what time I should, or should not, collect the tickets other than they will be ready in 2 hours. I therefore choose to collect the tickets when I happen to be passing through or by the station anyway and I imagine that is what other people do as well.

Unsurprisingly, more people pass through a station at the busiest times than at the quietest times. Quite how collecting tickets at the time you are there anyway is abusing the facility I really fail to see.

Now if all tickets were Print at Home, which is the norm elsewhere ...

So you think there's nothing wrong with printing off a shedload of tickets under 35 different reference numbers when people are trying to buy a ticket to get home?
 
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When I am given a collection reference for ticket(s) it does not contain any information as to what time I should, or should not, collect the tickets other than they will be ready in 2 hours. I therefore choose to collect the tickets when I happen to be passing through or by the station anyway and I imagine that is what other people do as well.

Unsurprisingly, more people pass through a station at the busiest times than at the quietest times. Quite how collecting tickets at the time you are there anyway is abusing the facility I really fail to see.

Now if all tickets were Print at Home, which is the norm elsewhere ...

So please tell me, who is responsible for Print at Home tickets?

What happens if you fail to print them,lose them, use them as a roach in Goa, dog eats them, printer runs out of ink, pdf won't open due to due to the fact you're running a 486 with a dot matrix printer, couldn't be bothered and it's your job and I've paid and I want my tickets etc.

I know what the general public believe.....
 

RJ

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So please tell me, who is responsible for Print at Home tickets?

What happens if you fail to print them,lose them, use them as a roach in Goa, dog eats them, printer runs out of ink, pdf won't open due to due to the fact you're running a 486 with a dot matrix printer, couldn't be bothered and it's your job and I've paid and I want my tickets etc.

I know what the general public believe.....

I used to work in a Customer Information desk and frequently had people asking me to print off their Print @ Home tickets for them. We were duty bound to refuse all of these requests. Guess who got it in the neck!

Yes, Print @ Home is the solution to everything!
 
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I used to work in a Customer Information desk and frequently had people asking me to print off their Print @ Home tickets for them. We were duty bound to refuse all of these requests. Guess who got it in the neck!

Yes, Print @ Home is the solution to everything!

I also get a large amount of people who are unable to retrieve their pre-booked tickets from the TVM's as the booking number is not recognised. Usually this means the customer has elected to 'Print at Home' and hasn't realised.

I'm not saying the system is perfect, far from it, but a heartfelt plea from one on the 'coalface'. When buying tickets from a TVM or Online, please remember to breathe....
 

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I couldnt agree more Ashford is an extreme example but I believe that at the weekend there are over 20 fare variations on a return to London. Most people just want a Plus HS1 travelcard but can't find it! I dont understand what all the variations are, I guess the ticket office staff would be hard pressed to explain them all. Things have got to change.




Im sorry but how can this be hard to find? You select London and then the option for Hig Speed and not High Speed come up on the next screen. They do down in Margate and Ramsgate on their machines so I see no reason why Ashford would be different.

Im tempted to break my journey tomorrow just to find this out as I dont believe such a statement.


The issue of CS bending over backwards to accomodate passengers errors is something that does my head in too and no matter how many times I point this out to ours they just dont bother as they dont want the bad press some things may generate. Its no way to run a bloody business.
 

maniacmartin

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I couldnt agree more Ashford is an extreme example but I believe that at the weekend there are over 20 fare variations on a return to London.
That's nothing! I was at London Liverpool Street today and selected Cambridge as I wanted to see for myself this supposedly controversial route. 33 different fares were shown over 4 pages. See attached. Nevertheless, apart from the wording "By LER trains only", they all seem to have quite descriptive names, if you can even read white on light green! I presume if I was at a TVM at Cambridge, there could be more fares as I'd also be shown the FCC-only ones.

I'd rather the TVMs be able to sell all fares, as it saves me having to queue at the booking office. However, instead of showing all of the fares in one go, the TVM should ask questions, slowly walking down a tree of tickets, then present a small matching selection as not to overwhelm the passenger with so many in one go. A different TVM at LST (I don't know the model names unlike RJ!) appeared to do this (see 5th attachment)
 

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bb21

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That's nothing! I was at London Liverpool Street today and selected Cambridge as I wanted to see for myself this supposedly controversial route. 33 different fares were shown over 4 pages. See attached. Nevertheless, apart from the wording "By LER trains only", they all seem to have quite descriptive names, if you can even read white on light green! I presume if I was at a TVM at Cambridge, there could be more fares as I'd also be shown the FCC-only ones.

What on earth is a "Sup Offpeak Day S" or an "Off-Peak Day 1R"? :roll:

I'd rather the TVMs be able to sell all fares, as it saves me having to queue at the booking office. However, instead of showing all of the fares in one go, the TVM should ask questions, slowly walking down a tree of tickets, then present a small matching selection as not to overwhelm the passenger with so many in one go. A different TVM at LST (I don't know the model names unlike RJ!) appeared to do this (see 5th attachment)

Agreed. The majority of those 33 include various add-on fares for London. Can that not be better served by asking an additional question?
 

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What on earth is a "Sup Offpeak Day S" or an "Off-Peak Day 1R"? :roll:



Agreed. The majority of those 33 include various add-on fares for London. Can that not be better served by asking an additional question?

Single & Return? but how ar eyou meant to know that?

Those add on fares really shouldnt be on the first screen as I cant think manypeople would want them, just to/from Cambridge. In this instance it appears that GA really are making it confusing for people in that instance and without wanting to cause a row was that really the first screen that came up on the TVM after you entered in Cambridge?
 

bb21

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Single & Return? but how ar eyou meant to know that?

Yes, of course I know what they are, but how is an average punter going to be able to figure out what "Sup", "S" and "1R" are supposed to mean?

For all they know, that final one might mean one return trip, rather than First Class Return.
 
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