FCC Penalty Charge - False Name

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by tired.traveler, 28 Nov 2010.

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  1. Tom B

    Tom B Established Member

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    I don't think anyone is saying it's OK not to have your railcard with you - however we're all human - from time to time, we'll leave things at home, put them in the wrong bag, etc. Surely such people deserve to be dealt with politely - pay up, but get a refund when you can prove you had a railcard - rather than having a tonne of bricks brought down on them. Passengers are actually the reason the railway exists and ought to be treated as such - contrary to the Basil Fawlty approach of much of the transport industry!
     
  2. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    It's not simple when undiscounted fares for journeys of only two or three hours are more than many people earn in a week. And as we've said before, under current rules (as you describe them) then people should be PF'd.

    If you're happy with a system that makes life harder for RPIs (because they get people like the OP who feel - maybe wrongly, but that's not the point - hard done by and then go arguing, complaining, or doing stupid things like give false names/addresses), harder for TOC admin staff having follow up more PFs/Proescutions, harder for honest passengers who make errors, does not treat fare evaders any more harshly than those who make those mistakes, and creates bad press for the rail, then fine.
     
  3. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    Agreed. It is simpler to penalise honest people who make an occasional mistake than tor really target the serial fare evaders.
     
  4. scotsman

    scotsman Established Member

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    Can I just say that I'm happy with the current system.

    Being an owner of a railcard does not entitle discount

    Being in possession of a railcard which you own does
     
  5. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    There is an inconsistency, however there are many reasons for this inconstancy. They basically come down to the famous word, discretion. Most of the posters on here (who are not rail staff) expect the guard / rpi to use their discretion (i.e. ignore the breach of CoC as that is clearly a special case), and indeed, berate us for not using it.

    Consistency would be the application of CoC in every case, without exception, fear or favour. I know one TM who used to do this. According to him, he would take (in pre-commission) days £250K P.A. in on-board revenue, but this was probably surpassed by the delay minutes he incurred waiting for BTP or ejecting passengers from trains, not to mention time taken up by Customer Services in dealing with passengers who he caught in any breach of CoC. He would charge up an OAP a full open single because their Senior Railcard was a week out of date.

    As the current railway bylaws and C0C stand, consistency would be every Guard / RPI in the country doing this, day in day out (and the TOC's subcontracting their complaints department to Ryanair's call-centre).

    Consider this, and then tell me do you really want consistency?
     
  6. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    It's fine until some people use discretion and it's then open to interpretation as to who gets discretion and who does not.

    It's either giving everyone the benefit of the doubt (not a good idea), or playing by the rules for everyone (the fair way, but the one that will keep the Daily Mail in anti-rail stories for years to come, right or wrong). My system allows the honest to get some help, while punishing those trying it on.

    Such a system is also a PR win for the industry and may even help diffuse problems on the train - as people who pretend they just forgot their card are given the option to prove it (later). The railway gets the last laugh this way, and there's no need to force staff to make a judgement on whether the person is lying or not, or to say 'tough ****' and then have to endure the inevitable moaning that will happen no matter how clearly you make the T&Cs.

    The industry seems stuck in its ways, so I accept my idea might never happen - but that's no reason to simply say that we shouldn't try to change the system.
     
  7. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    Jon, I prefer your system to the current haphazard reliance on first impressions, which is basically what happens when discretion is used.

    At least when the rules are enforced impartially everyone is treated the same way, regardless of age, gender or appearance.
     
  8. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    Penalty fares only apply to certain parts of the country and journeys beginning from certain stations under certain situations.

    Train travel is expensive if paying full open fares. So is air travel. I wouldn't turn up for a flight without ensuring I had all the documentation and was on the correct flight. If I got it wrong, then the airline will not say "Never mind, jump on anyway" Why do people think it's OK to turn up for a train without taking the same care, or that there will not be consequences if they do?

    As all of the rail staff who post on here have said numerous times in the past, how do you tell the honest mistake from the serial fare-dodger? Don't forget, the serial fare dodger has had more time to work on their story and act to make it seem more convincing.

    When in doubt, I have found from personal experience the best option is to go back to the basics - is the ticket vaid for the train and is all the supporting documentation valid? If not, invoke the CoC. I am always happy to provide receipts and my name, and if any passengers feel that the were a special case, then they can appeal to customer services. If customer services (or my manager) feel it is appropriate, a refund will be given. They can make a decision, in the cold light of day, based on the case presented by a passenger who at the time I came across them was in breach of the CoC (because if they were not, or I did not believe them to be, I wouldn't be charging them). If I made a mistake, then I am happy to be re-educated by my Chain of Command. (It hasn't happened yet, despite numerous complaints from people who believed "they were a special case".)

    The price of it is not my problem or on my conscience, I didn't force the passenger to get on the train, and I don't set the fares. My job is to ensure that the passenger has paid the correct published fare for the journey they are making, and if not, do my best to ensure they do.
     
  9. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    Yes, but why can't someone who has mislaid their railcard then get a refund in the same way that is allowed for season ticket holders?

    And, assuming you do your job correctly and apply the rules fairly to all, why can't other staff do the same thing?

    I'm all for fairness and consistency, but the rail industry also needs to work a little harder to ensure that the whole experience, from ticket buying to leaving the station at the end of the journey is a pleasant and stress free experience. On board the train is probably where the least work needs to be done in that respect!
     
  10. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    I won't disagree with you
     
  11. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    The fact of the matter is that train travel is different to air travel. Train travel is still technically a walk-up-and-ride mode of transport much like buses. True, long distance fares make walk-up prohibitively expensive, but local commuter fares are still reasonable. Every time TOCs treat basic human errors by assuming the passenger is a criminal they dissaude more and more people from using their services. They need to do something which recognises that humans do sometimes forget, while not allowing fare-dodgers an easy ride. The sort of system proposed by Jon with input from others would appear to be the basis of something that ought to work given the will to make it so.
     
  12. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I feel that the reluctance of TOC's to introduce such a scheme has much to do with the fact that it's difficult to quantify how much revenue is lost, or not gained, by treating genuine mistakes more leniently. It's much easier for them to see how much revenue they stand to lose by not gaining the additional revenue from the new tickets sold.
     
  13. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    But we're not asking for discretion - I'm with Greenback and Jon in not complaining about staff doing a hard job and fulfilling the rules that they have been told to fullfill. Questioning a regulation is not questioning the people who enforce it!

    In response to your question Flamingo, yes I would rather have consistency. Consistent application of an unfair regulation should swiftly see it changed; inconsistent use of discretion will cause unconscious biases and will allow unfair regulations to be maintained. There are some exceptions where discretion can be accepted - notably in relation to heavy weather, as we're having at the moment - but as a rule of thumb, we shouldn't be complaining about staff enforcing rules that customers are aware of, but we can complain where the restrictions don't make allowances for passenger mistakes ie by allowing those who have forgotten rail-cards to later reclaim most or all of the extra fare that they have had to pay!
     
  14. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Good post, cuccir!

    I also strongly agree with your earlier point that "undiscounted fares for journeys of only two or three hours are more than many people earn in a week" and this might well apply to an elderly person - of an age where occasional lapses of memory may be commonplace.

    This highlights one area where consistency is problematic: a system which is appropriate and effective for regular, short, and (relatively) inexpensive commuting may not be appropriate nor effective for occasional, long-distance and expensive travel. I'm struggling to see how the logic of some of the suggestions and explantions in this thread can be consistently and appropriately applied to both of these types of travel.

    One day, its likely to be me! I'll be elderly and forgetful, travelling 200 / 300 or more miles and back again on the ECML with a low-cost Advance but I'll have forgotten my Senior Railcard. Will the procedure that's right for a 30something doing their twice a day, 5-mile commute with £20 in their pocket be appropriate for both of us?
     
  15. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    The basic idea of my system is that it removes the problem from the TM/RPI. They do their job and the passenger can sort it out afterwards, with a recognised system.

    It would mean that the media can't then moan, as there's a recognised system in place to solve such problem. No more rants by columnists, or pages of comments from passengers who want to get the boot in. Okay, I'm hoping a bit much that people will stop moaning completely, but I am sure this (and other things to improve the railway) would have a huge impact.

    Imagine if ATOC actually cared about such things - they'd have done this years ago instead of coming up with stats that show only a tiny percentage of people ever have any problems (like saying TVMs issue most tickets that people want, as justification to remove ticket offices).
     
  16. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    So what exactly do posters want me as a guard to do?
    1. Use discretion and excess up the ticket, allowing for what has been paid
    2. Allow for human error and not charge them at all
    3. Charge the full open as per the regulations in every care?

    Please say either 1, 2, or 3.

    No but's or maybe's.
     
  17. brompton rail

    brompton rail Member

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    As a Retired Person, if I get on a bus and say to the driver "I have an OAP Pass but I have left it at home, can I travel for free" .. the answer, quite correctly is NO! A similar answer to what you get when you go into a shop and take goods to the till and say " Sorry, I have left my money at home, and I will pay next time. I have a railcard, and as I always buy tickets from staff at the booking office, cannot say First Class Return Doncaster to Derby please, I show you my Senior Railcard next time. I don't therefore get a 34% discount. Neither do I pretend to be someone I am not!
     
  18. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    1. Allows people to try it on, as it's safer to get a discounted ticket than have no ticket.

    2. Definitely open to abuse, just like 1 but even worse.

    3. The only fair way - but the one that will get the newspaper headlines, unless you issue the full price ticket with the ability to get it back if you can later prove your innocence. An admin fee should stop people not bothering to try hard to remember their railcard in the first place. Fraudsters won't be able to recover the money, so will be well out of pocket having paid for two tickets for one journey.

    The third option also makes your job nice and easy. No need to size up the person, and no need for that person to get all upset when they won't be heavily penalised - but will be slightly out of pocket and have to take the time to appeal (in their own time), not holding you or anyone else up.
     
  19. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    You're focussing on the wrong part of what's being discussed. In answer to your question, given the system that we have today, (1) would be ideal but I accept that it probably ought to be (3). However, what some of us are trying to discuss is how to end up with (2) without allowing chancers, dodgers, etc etc a free ride. As Barry Doe says in the latest RAIL: "we're not potential criminals - we're your customers."

    Actually, TVMs really are the cause of much of this issue. When we all had to turn up at the station and show our railcard to purchase our tickets it was fine. Now we can order online or (are forced to) buy from a machine (because ATOC believe it's a suitable alternative to ticket clerks) where we don't have to show the railcard we get these issues.
     
  20. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    The appeal system I proposed, which is hardly a revolutionary idea (it's based on how it works for season ticket holders), would allow you to buy a full price ticket on the train (or bus in this example) and then claim back the difference later - subject to a fee and a limit on the number of times you can make a mistake, to stop people abusing it.

    In many cases, the admin fee would be equal or higher to the discount, so people wouldn't bother (but at such a small amount, it's less of a hardship when it's still a mistake of your own doing) - but it would help those made to pay for much more expensive tickets on the train.
     
  21. tony_mac

    tony_mac Established Member

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    That doesn't (usually) happen around here, retired people often aren't asked for their passes. What's the point? the driver knows they are entitled to free travel.

    When I last needed a new battery for my car, I got there and found that they didn't accept cards and I didn't have enough cash.
    I didn't have time to get to a cashpoint and back, so they fitted the new battery and said that I could post them a cheque. Not only did they guarantee my current business, they also have my future business and a strong recommendation to other people!

    Having onerous rules and no discretion does not generate goodwill or encourage repeart business. I find this particularly irritating amongst publically-funded organisations; they should at least consider that they are funded for the benefit of the public.

    Most airlines etc. do often allow some discretion as they usually have at least some level of competition, rather than a government mandated quasi-monopoly that the rail companies enjoy.

    For instance, I have missed a flight, through my own fault, and was simply put onto the next service. I have known people amend bookings without charge, and travel with insufficient documentation (out of date passport), all strictly not allowed according to the t&cs.
    (obviously Ryanair was not one of the airlines involved!)
     
  22. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Of those three, Number 1.
    But in response to legitimate and intelligent objections from others, (and despite "No but's or maybe's.") perhaps a 2 tiered approach would work:

    For long distance journeys (where the walk-up fare is over, say, £50 to £100 one-way) then Excessing seems to give the best result for all with a low risk of inviting abuse and not too much additional work;
    For shorter journeys (under £50 to £100 one-way fare) then charge a full fare with opportunity for pax to reclaim unused discounted ticket (or to reclaim the full fare less admin fee). This would apply to regular/commuter travel.

    But I agree with MikeWh, the proportionate response which we should be aiming for would be 2.
    If a pax forgets something 'the railways' can allow it to be put right for little or no expense. But I disagree that 'the railways' should behave as the servants of respected clients, those days are long gone - but it is a relationship that can work fine if its balanced and proportionate. Sadly, it is neither balanced nor proportionate at the present time.

    I expect 'the railways' to get it wrong from time to time, quite often in fact, (and with staff blaming 'other parts' of the system: the signaller, their TOC's control, the timetable, the stock, infrastructure, the weather - everything is to blame in a quite institutionalised culture of blame!). Passengers get the blame for all sorts. But the fact is, we have only a modest expectation of railway performance. So, to be proportionate, I'm claiming that Passengers needn't be held to any higher standard of accountability. As it is already, I believe that passengers ARE held to higher standards of accountability and transparency than the TOCs!
    So some adjustment is necessary.
    (I onder if some staff may recognise this position, and will consider themselves on the same side as passengers as being held accountable to unreasonable standards set by competing TOCs?)

    And for the avoidance of doubt, I certainly wouldn't want to preclude a Guard who recognises a regular Railcard traveller from letting a one-off lapse pass with a reminder not to forget tomorrow. This might apply in some local and rural situations as well as in some long-distance services, to elderly and young alike - it would be an expression of a community working properly (and probably isn't likely to happen on crammed commuter lines in rush-hours!).
     
    Last edited: 30 Nov 2010
  23. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    Whatever your bosses tell you, which I'd hope was 3. But I agree with those who'd rather a system that mixes 1 or 2.
     
  24. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    I live in the real world and accept that the sensible answer IS to treat everyone with suspicion. Sad but that's life, and we can thank society as it is today (or has become over the last 10-20 years) for that being the case.

    There are obviously other scenarios where discretion can still apply, but not having a valid ticket (as it won't be without the railcard) is a pretty open and shut case. That's why I suggest helping the passenger sort it out later on, not hope for discretion there and then.
     
  25. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Good guards use discretion on matters like this, and vary their response depending on the individual circumstances. Looking at Flamingo's previous posts, I don't think he is any different :)

    It's a trick question, designed to get people to think, I reckon! And it worked.
     
  26. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    Well, it certainly made people think that it's not black and white (which was my aim). It's an imperfect system, and as it is currently configured is open to abuse. The only way to remove the abuse is to have reservation only ticket checks on boarding. Not feasible with the current model of travel.

    Interesting point about Ryanair. If the railways want to go the Ryanair model (and passengers want the discounts) with Advanced tickets, the Railway will also have to accept the bad publicity associated with this model, and the passengers will have to accept the "Screw up an we'll nail you" approach from the staff.

    I don't think that Michael O'Leary will ever approach try for a franchise (too many unions for him to deal with), but the railway would be the ideal environment for some hard-nosed Chief Executive to try this approach with. It would even be backed up by force of law.
     
  27. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    My wife had to fly Ryanair over the weekend to Sweden, as SAS and BA were full. It was a real last minute thing (sick grandmother rushed to hospital with, as initially thought, just a matter of days left) and - to be fair - the prices were reasonable. £70 out, £30 the next day back. However, she obviously had to pay another £10 to pay (£5 each way), go through a 101 pop-ups and attempts to add bags, insurance, hotels, car hire without slipping up.. and when she flew, they failed to mention when she was at the gate (and quite keen to get to Sweden and the hospital) that the plane hadn't even arrived. It got there nearly an hour and a half late (must dent the 98% on-time figures, or whatever they boast).

    Coming back, the same thing. No plane - and another hour delay, which wasn't recovered even with padded timetables they operate to (that would do EC proud). If EC said it took nine hours to get to Scotland, I reckon they could get to 100% punctuality!

    After all the taxes and other fees, it came to £198. And to think that airlines have to advertise prices with taxes and fees included! What's more, if she hadn't then checked in online, I think it would have been about another £80 to do so at the airport!

    Finally, to add insult to injury, she was told her clear bag wasn't good enough for security (didn't seal) so she had to buy one for £1. I didn't realise BAA have now joined in on this scam (I'm sure they used to be free at all but Luton, which is run by Luton council?). She took one bag and handed the others back, saying they could be given to someone else - but obviously they were put back to be sold again!!

    God help the railway if this became how it was run in the future. By comparison, train travel is a dream!
     
  28. Tom B

    Tom B Established Member

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    There's a bit of a difference between getting away without paying the full fare, and paying the full fare then getting a refund. And quite a difference between a ticket from (say) London to Edinburgh, than a bus ticket. (Of course, in Doncaster you need a mortgage in order to be able to afford a bus ticket - if the bus bothers to turn up, that is!!)

    On several occasions I've found shopkeepers willing to give goods if I've left money at home/haven't enough etc - though generally eg the corner shop that I visit every day.
     
  29. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    The price of train travel keeps being quoted as if it somehow makes a difference to the principle behind paying for the journey, and being bound by the CoC. It doesn't (and in law, it couldn't).

    If I turn up at Heathrow, I expect to pay more if I haven't booked ahead, or I've missed my flight or forgotten my passport and have to catch a later flight than the one I paid for - unless I have paid through the nose for a flexible ticket.

    Why is the railway expected to be any different? And why am I, as a guard performing revenue duties, expected to "automatically" say "There there, never mind, I'll let you travel" to everyone that can spin a good yarn, as opposed to those passengers who say "Bugger, it's my fault" and go and buy a new ticket that is valid for the service.
     
  30. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I have just caught up with this topic, and most interesting it is too!

    I don't think anyone is really arguing that the people that have no intention of paying the correct fare should get away with it. For what it's worth, I would prefer to have the rules strictly but failry enforced, but with a similar scheme to the one suggested by Jon so that the occasional mistake by honest and genuine passengers can be forgiven, rather than penalised.

    Discretion is all very well, but as cuccir has already pointed out, it does lead to subconscious discrimination. I have seen this and been guilty of this myself, it's only human nature. It also leads to the inconsistencies that make life difficult for other members of staff who try and enforce the same rules.

    Flamingo, no one is taking issue with you personally. It's good to have input from people who have tod eal with these sorts of issues every working day!
     
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