First Capital connect notice to prosecute letter - help

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Tanya1302

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Hi all,
I'm seeking for some advice on getting a First Capital Connect prosecution letter.
I was travelling from Hendon (London) to Brighton this month, and bought a ticket online. I had it with me on the train when the inspector came and checked it. It appeared that my ticket wasn't valid because it had to be with a Network Railway card which I didn't choose or maybe chose accidentally when buying a ticket online. The officer said that I can't travel with this ticket unless I have the card with me. I said I wasn't aware that I had to have a Network Railway card, and I didn't choose it when buying the ticket.
He offered me to buy a ticket to Brighton for 46 pounds one way. I asked him if I can get off at Kings Cross and pay for the ticket to Kings Cross instead of Brighton and find out why the situation happened. He refused and said I had to buy the ticket to Brighton of him. I didn't buy a ticket off him at that time and he took all my details saying that I'd receive a fine and can argue it if I don't agree with it.
Now I received a notice to prosecute letter saying that they will take the case to the Magistrates court with several punishments measures including a criminal record.
The case is I don't want to get a criminal record , as I'll lose my job, and a fine of 1000 pounds looks a bit too big to me and I can't afford it. Please, can anyone advice me on what to do in this situation?

Thanks.
 
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DaveNewcastle

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Are we missing a few important details here?

Is the letter you have received explaining "that they will take the case to the Magistrates court" or is it requesting a Statement from you to assist their investigations, whose outcome MAY result in a prosecution at the Magistrates Court?

Surely the Fine, if you are taken to Court, and if you are found Guilty, may be up to £1000. (they are usually £200 - £300).

Is the letter you've received asking you anything at all? It should be, if so, what are you being asked?

Your explanation says that the Inspector 'refused' to sell a ticket for the shorter journey, but it beggars belief that that is what was written in the Inspector's report (which will be the evidence FCC are considering). Surely it was you who refused to pay the fare for your journey when asked, and that it is that refusal that will be in the Report. So what did you say when asked to pay?

Does the letter tell you which Offence FCC are considering you may have Committed? It should be in the letter, either in terms of the Section number of an Act or in words.

FCC have a notoriously robust attitude to non-payment, but there may be a way forward which avoids Prosecution, and if you can answer some of these questions, some of us may be able to guide you through that process.
 

Stigy

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Unless you're either very persistant and/or very wealthy, you'll not receive a fine of anywhere near £1,000.

You need to respond to their letter and give all the details they ask of you. It's often beneficial to offer to pay all reasonable admin costs in order to prevent court action, along with an apology. They don't have to accept this, but often do for first offences.

The fine etc at court much depends on what legislation you're prosecuted using. For a Byelaw offence, the norm is half of the (a charge added for the victims of crime charity) and compensation (the fare, or part fare owed).

For Regulation of Railways 1889 offences it's all of the above, although the fine itself is typically £350 (average weeks wage). All this depends on your means. Also the latter offence is recordable on the Police National Computer whereas Byelaws aren't.
 

RJ

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Hi all,
I'm seeking for some advice on getting a First Capital Connect prosecution letter.
I was travelling from Hendon (London) to Brighton this month, and bought a ticket online. I had it with me on the train when the inspector came and checked it. It appeared that my ticket wasn't valid because it had to be with a Network Railway card which I didn't choose or maybe chose accidentally when buying a ticket online. The officer said that I can't travel with this ticket unless I have the card with me. I said I wasn't aware that I had to have a Network Railway card, and I didn't choose it when buying the ticket.
He offered me to buy a ticket to Brighton for 46 pounds one way. I asked him if I can get off at Kings Cross and pay for the ticket to Kings Cross instead of Brighton and find out why the situation happened. He refused and said I had to buy the ticket to Brighton of him. I didn't buy a ticket off him at that time and he took all my details saying that I'd receive a fine and can argue it if I don't agree with it.
Now I received a notice to prosecute letter saying that they will take the case to the Magistrates court with several punishments measures including a criminal record.
The case is I don't want to get a criminal record , as I'll lose my job, and a fine of 1000 pounds looks a bit too big to me and I can't afford it. Please, can anyone advice me on what to do in this situation?

Thanks.

Good luck - you're going to need it. FCC don't take any nonsense from anyone, especially those who feel that they're above paying the fare after being caught with a ticket that is not valid! They have a reputation for rejecting out of court settlements as there's little incentive for them to do so!
 

island

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Why did you choose a Network Railcard online when you didn't have one? It's not at all easy to pick the option unintentionally.
 

GadgetMan

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Why did you choose a Network Railcard online when you didn't have one? It's not at all easy to pick the option unintentionally.

This is one of my bugbears too. Come across it all too often on board, passengers claiming the website made a mistake and issued the WRONG ticket.
 

Tanya1302

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Are we missing a few important details here?

Is the letter you have received explaining "that they will take the case to the Magistrates court" or is it requesting a Statement from you to assist their investigations, whose outcome MAY result in a prosecution at the Magistrates Court?

Surely the Fine, if you are taken to Court, and if you are found Guilty, may be up to £1000. (they are usually £200 - £300).

Is the letter you've received asking you anything at all? It should be, if so, what are you being asked?

Your explanation says that the Inspector 'refused' to sell a ticket for the shorter journey, but it beggars belief that that is what was written in the Inspector's report (which will be the evidence FCC are considering). Surely it was you who refused to pay the fare for your journey when asked, and that it is that refusal that will be in the Report. So what did you say when asked to pay?

Does the letter tell you which Offence FCC are considering you may have Committed? It should be in the letter, either in terms of the Section number of an Act or in words.

FCC have a notoriously robust attitude to non-payment, but there may be a way forward which avoids Prosecution, and if you can answer some of these questions, some of us may be able to guide you through that process.

The letter heading is 'Notice of Intention to prosecute' and it says 'this is to inform you of our intention to take this case to the Magistrates Court and the enclosed form provides you with the opportunity to tell us what happened from your point of view. Information should be both factual and honest.

I got on the train at Hendon, and when the inspector checked it and said it's not valid, I asked him to sell me a ticket to Kings Cross, so that I can go and buy the Network Railcard (which I didn't know had to be shown with my original ticket) and another ticket from Kings Cross to Brighton. He said it wasn't possible and I had to buy a ticket from Hendon to Brighton off him, which I refused. I know it sounds suspicious that I didn't chose the Network Railway Card when I was buying it online, but I honestly didn't. So I would like to resolve this issue as peaceful as possible, even by paying a fine, but not getting the case to the court.
 

snail

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I know it sounds suspicious that I didn't chose the Network Railway Card when I was buying it online, but I honestly didn't.
Which website did you buy from? Did you actually make the booking yourself or did someone else do it for you? Had someone else bought a ticket recently using the same computer?

I ask this because, like Island says, it's not easy to accidentally click on the railcard option but some sites do remember the previous choice of card/no card. Having said that, it's normally pretty clear in the price breakdown shown before you pay that a railcard discount has been included. It will also be set out in the confirmation email that you need to carry the card.

For example (using 16-25 railcard examples), RedSpottedHanky include this:
With 1 16-25 Railcard railcard(s)
Remember to bring the railcard(s) for the journey
Or from Virgin:
Railcards/Discounts:
16-25 RAILCARD
You will need to show your railcard(s) at some point during your journey.
Those use the two main booking systems so other sites have similar wordings. It's hard to see how the 'accident' could happen.
 

Ferret

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The letter heading is 'Notice of Intention to prosecute' and it says 'this is to inform you of our intention to take this case to the Magistrates Court and the enclosed form provides you with the opportunity to tell us what happened from your point of view. Information should be both factual and honest.

I got on the train at Hendon, and when the inspector checked it and said it's not valid, I asked him to sell me a ticket to Kings Cross, so that I can go and buy the Network Railcard (which I didn't know had to be shown with my original ticket) and another ticket from Kings Cross to Brighton. He said it wasn't possible and I had to buy a ticket from Hendon to Brighton off him, which I refused. I know it sounds suspicious that I didn't chose the Network Railway Card when I was buying it online, but I honestly didn't. So I would like to resolve this issue as peaceful as possible, even by paying a fine, but not getting the case to the court.

It does sound bizarre - I do find it a little implausible that a website would select a discount of its own accord! Still, what matters is that you didn't have a valid ticket for the journey you were making if you didn't have the supporting railcard, so FCC are on sturdy ground with a byelaw prosecution. Based on what you've written here, I can't see any way of contesting the matter and being successful, so it appears you'd be better off attempting to settle out of Court. Previous threads should offer advice on how much to offer.

 

Paul Kelly

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He offered me to buy a ticket to Brighton for 46 pounds one way. I asked him if I can get off at Kings Cross and pay for the ticket to Kings Cross instead of Brighton and find out why the situation happened.

This looks like it wasn't a normal ticket from Hendon to Brighton, but in fact a penalty fare. The anytime single fare from Hendon to Brighton is £23.30. A penalty fare is £20 or twice the anytime single fare for the journey, whichever is the greater - in this case making it £46.60.
 

DaveNewcastle

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. . . . A penalty fare is £20 or twice the anytime single fare for the journey, whichever is the greater - in this case making it £46.60.
And paying that at the time would have been the most appropriate and expedient way of resolving the matter.

I'd still like to know what Evidence FCC will have, which is why the answer to this question might still be helpful "Surely it was you who refused to pay the fare for your journey when asked, and that it is that refusal that will be in the Report. So what did you say when asked to pay?".

I'd also like to know what was said, as it is possible, albeit remotely, that you didn't incriminate yourself there and then. But we shall assume that you did and its that Statement which has led to the current Investigation.

I agree with Ferret's deduction that it is probably the Byelaw Offence which is being investigated (and which should not result in a Criminal Record - see other threads on this topic); although this still isn't certain from the 2 posts so far. If so, then the best thing anyone can do who has not been investigated for any ticket irregularity in the past, is simply to apologise and admit to having learned something the hard way, and to offer to compensate the Company for their administrative costs without troubling them to take their Prosecution to Court.

Complete the form enclosed with the letter (or reply on a separate sheet) with your honest explanation. That means when you reach your description of the discussion with the Inspector, you DO NOT accuse him of refusing to sell you a ticket if it was actually you who refused to buy one. Perhaps you both made stubborn statements, in which case that is what you write. If you still feel that the booking system made an error, then say so with as much evidence as possible. If you have any other innocent explanation for the selection of a Network Railcard discount online, then explain it, with as much Evidence as you have. If you still feel that you were prevented from having a relevant discussion with someone at Kings Cross then explain it clearly. If you have never been detected in similar circumstances previously and are a content and regular customer, then say so.
Whatever you do, think long and hard about saying anything which is inconsistent with the Statement you will have given the Inspector during the incident (whatever it was that you said).

Don't expect a quick response back from FCC.
 

Tanya1302

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And paying that at the time would have been the most appropriate and expedient way of resolving the matter.

I'd still like to know what Evidence FCC will have, which is why the answer to this question might still be helpful "Surely it was you who refused to pay the fare for your journey when asked, and that it is that refusal that will be in the Report. So what did you say when asked to pay?".

I'd also like to know what was said, as it is possible, albeit remotely, that you didn't incriminate yourself there and then. But we shall assume that you did and its that Statement which has led to the current Investigation.

I agree with Ferret's deduction that it is probably the Byelaw Offence which is being investigated (and which should not result in a Criminal Record - see other threads on this topic); although this still isn't certain from the 2 posts so far. If so, then the best thing anyone can do who has not been investigated for any ticket irregularity in the past, is simply to apologise and admit to having learned something the hard way, and to offer to compensate the Company for their administrative costs without troubling them to take their Prosecution to Court.

Complete the form enclosed with the letter (or reply on a separate sheet) with your honest explanation. That means when you reach your description of the discussion with the Inspector, you DO NOT accuse him of refusing to sell you a ticket if it was actually you who refused to buy one. Perhaps you both made stubborn statements, in which case that is what you write. If you still feel that the booking system made an error, then say so with as much evidence as possible. If you have any other innocent explanation for the selection of a Network Railcard discount online, then explain it, with as much Evidence as you have. If you still feel that you were prevented from having a relevant discussion with someone at Kings Cross then explain it clearly. If you have never been detected in similar circumstances previously and are a content and regular customer, then say so.
Whatever you do, think long and hard about saying anything which is inconsistent with the Statement you will have given the Inspector during the incident (whatever it was that you said).

Don't expect a quick response back from FCC.

I think Indigo2 was right when he assumed that the price they inspector offered to pay for the ticket was a bit higher than the ticket price from Hendon to Brighton, that's why I asked him if it was a one way ticket price to Brighton and the inspector said 'yes,you have to pay it now'. So I'm not entirely sure in this case if if was a ticket he offered me or actually a penalty fare. I wasn't arguing with him, I just asked to get off the train at Kings Cross to find out more details about my ticket, but he said it wasn't possible. I asked him if it's going to be possible to argue the case if I receive a letter from the First Great Western, he confirmed. I didn't expect to receive a letter of prosecution intention though, as I've never had any situations on the public transport before.
I agree now that the most appropriate and expedient way of resolving the matter was to pay the amount he mentioned on the train, but I think I learnt my lesson the hard way which I regret.
Hopefully with all the points you raised I will be able to negotiate a deal with FCC so that they don't take it to the court.
 

Ferret

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I think Indigo2 was right when he assumed that the price they inspector offered to pay for the ticket was a bit higher than the ticket price from Hendon to Brighton, that's why I asked him if it was a one way ticket price to Brighton and the inspector said 'yes,you have to pay it now'. So I'm not entirely sure in this case if if was a ticket he offered me or actually a penalty fare. I wasn't arguing with him, I just asked to get off the train at Kings Cross to find out more details about my ticket, but he said it wasn't possible. I asked him if it's going to be possible to argue the case if I receive a letter from the First Great Western, he confirmed. I didn't expect to receive a letter of prosecution intention though, as I've never had any situations on the public transport before.
I agree now that the most appropriate and expedient way of resolving the matter was to pay the amount he mentioned on the train, but I think I learnt my lesson the hard way which I regret.
Hopefully with all the points you raised I will be able to negotiate a deal with FCC so that they don't take it to the court.

Ok, well, I wish you all the best with this. If it's the first such problem you've had, negotiating an out of Court settlement shouldn't be an issue. Thanks for coming to this board for advice.

 

KA4C

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Surely the Fine, if you are taken to Court, and if you are found Guilty, may be up to £1000. (they are usually £200 - £300).

Any fine will be set according to the person's income, less any discount for a guilty plea. Obviously a not guilty plea and subsequent conviction would result in a higher overall level of fine (no EGP discount) and any costs would be higher, due to the trial
 

island

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Don't the Penalty Fares regs make it perfectly clear that you'll be charged 20 pounds or twice the single fare to your destination? As that destination was not St Pancras, was the RPI not in the right?

No, it's £20 or twice the single fare from where you joined the train to the next stop. If you want to continue on the same train you have to pay a full anytime fare from there, otherwise you can get off and buy a cheaper fare if available.

I still don't know where Kings Cross comes into this story. Hendon trains go to St. Pancras International. Can someone please help me on this?
 
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reb0118

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I still don't know where Kings Cross comes into this story. Hendon trains go to St. Pancras International. Can someone please help me on this?

King's Cross/St. Pancras is the name of the tube station many people shorten it to just King's Cross and then erroneously apply it to both adjacent mainline stations as well. I think the OP has just confused the two??
 

Squaddie

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King's Cross/St. Pancras is the name of the tube station many people shorten it to just King's Cross and then erroneously apply it to both adjacent mainline stations as well. I think the OP has just confused the two??
And, to further complicate the issue, the trains between Hendon and Brighton used to call at a station called Kings Cross Thameslink, and it is likely that many infrequent passengers do not realise (or even care) that the station no longer exists. I think it is clear that the OP meant St. Pancras International and, if the story as presented is accurate, then she should have been given the option of a penalty fare as far as St. Pancras where she could have bought another ticket.
 

jkdd77

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By law, under the Penalty Fare Regulations 1994 and Penalty Fare Rules 2002, the amount of any PF is twice the full Single to the next stop (or £20, whichever is greater). The passenger may leave the train at that stop to buy a valid ticket, and if the passenger chooses to stay on the same train they can be charged a full Single for the remainder of the journey.

Penalty Rules 2002:
6.6 The amount of any Penalty Fare must be as set out in the Regulations.


Penalty Fares Regulations 1994 (as amended below):
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1994/576/regulation/5/made

Amount of a penalty fare

5.—(1) Subject to paragraph (5), the amount of any penalty fare which may be charged under regulation 4 is £20.00 or twice the amount of the full single fare applicable in the case, whichever is the greater.

(2) The full single fare applicable in the case of a person charged a penalty fare while travelling by, being present on or leaving a train, aving travelled on or having been present on a preceding train, is the full single fare in respect of a journey from the station (in this regulation referred to as “the first boarding station”), at which that person boarded the preceding train, to the next station at which the train by which he is travelling or on which he is present is scheduled to stop, or, where that person is leaving the train at a station, that station.

(3) The full single fare applicable in the case of a person, other than a person referred to in paragraph (2), charged a penalty fare while travelling by, being present on or leaving a train is the full single fare in respect of a journey from the station (in this regulation referred to as “the boarding station”), at which that person boarded the train, to the next station at which the train by which he is travelling or on which he is present is scheduled to stop, or, where that person is leaving the train at a station, that station.
...

The OP ought to have accepted and paid the PF 'under protest' and immediately appealed on the basis that the amount charged was incorrect, excessive and not in keeping with the amount permitted under relevant legislation, rendering the PF unlawful and invalid.

Unfortunately, it's too late now, since he/she did not pay and is now facing prosecution instead. He/she probably has to make a very large offer (which the TOC are not obliged to accept in any case) or face conviction and total payment running into the hundreds of pounds.
 
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Brucey

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Not so.

I suggest you read the Penalty Fare Regulations and Rules.

Just for clarity to anyone not familiar with the Penalty Fare Regulations, here is a quote from The Railways (Penalty Fares) Regulations 1994. N.B. This has now been amended to £20.
5. (1)Subject to paragraph (5), the amount of any penalty fare
which may be charged under regulation 4 is £10.00 or twice
the amount of the full single fare applicable in the case,
whichever is the greater.
(2)The full single fare applicable in the case of a person
charged a penalty fare while travelling by, being present on
or leaving a train, having travelled on or having been
present on a preceding train, is the full single fare in respect
of a journey from the station (in this regulation referred to
as “the first boarding station”), at which that person
boarded the preceding train, to the next station at which
the train by which he is travelling or on which he is present
is scheduled to stop
, or, where that person is leaving the
train at a station, that station.
 

bb21

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Can we please remain on topic for the OP's sake. Going off on a different tangent is hardly going to be helpful.

If anyone thinks that he/she wants to have a rant, please start a new thread.
 

jkdd77

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If it does end up going to court, the attempt by the RPI to charge an incorrect PF and the confusion caused might be seen as a small mitigating factor when assessing the level of fine, although it would certainly not be a defence to the charge of 'failure to show a valid ticket on demand'.
 

Tanya1302

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If it does end up going to court, the attempt by the RPI to charge an incorrect PF and the confusion caused might be seen as a small mitigating factor when assessing the level of fine, although it would certainly not be a defence to the charge of 'failure to show a valid ticket on demand'.

Thanks, I'll keep it in my mind just in case. Although, I'd like to know how I can prove that he didn't let me get off at Kings Cross or any other station in London? I guess it's very difficult.
 

Belly Buster

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I am not knowledgable on penalty fares but am keen to know my rights if a situation crops up.

If the OP is entitled under the PF Regs to leave the train and buy a ticket, but was advised by the inspector that they couldn't do this, would this count as a breach of the regulations and thus would offer a reasonable defence against the summons?
 

Flamingo

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I am not knowledgable on penalty fares but am keen to know my rights if a situation crops up.

Rather than people knowing their rights, if they know their responsibilities and buy the correct ticket for the journey (including making sure they have any required railcards with them before getting the discount) then they shouldn't have any problems. <D
 

island

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I am not knowledgable on penalty fares but am keen to know my rights if a situation crops up.

If the OP is entitled under the PF Regs to leave the train and buy a ticket, but was advised by the inspector that they couldn't do this, would this count as a breach of the regulations and thus would offer a reasonable defence against the summons?

No. If a person does not have a valid ticket, they have committed a byelaw offence. If an authorized collector chooses to exercise his discretion not to report the person for the offence but instead to deal with the matter by way of penalty fare (or otherwise), then that is his entitlement. But the starting point is that a strict liability offence has been committed.
 

Belly Buster

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Rather than people knowing their rights, if they know their responsibilities and buy the correct ticket for the journey (including making sure they have any required railcards with them before getting the discount) then they shouldn't have any problems. <D
tbh it's probably easier to know your rights than know what ticket to buy in every circumstance.
 

DaveNewcastle

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. . . . . I'd like to know how I can prove that he didn't let me get off at Kings Cross or any other station in London? I guess it's very difficult.
As you will have seen from the last few posts, no answer to your question will change the substative fact that you were in breach of the Conditions of Travel (whether by accident, lack of knowledge, opportunism or deliberate evasion, the fact is that you didn't have a valid ticket - full stop.).

The fact is, that he probably was not actually preventing you from getting off in London. He only refused to accept that by getting off before your destination you would diminish your obligation to hold a ticket for the originally intended journey. Its an argument which gets us nowhere useful.

There is nothing to be gained by bringing this into your story other than for completeness. I believe that the advice you've already been given is about as good as it will get. The correct Penalty Fare is a technicality which could indeed be argued, but the legal expense will exceed the likely benefit to you. I'm sorry to say that without examining the paperwork with a (metaphorical as well as physical) magnifying glass, there are no loopholes to crawl through. The good news, surely, is that the Byelaw Offence is a relatively minor matter and certainly not worth much more anguish on your part.
 

yorkie

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Rather than people knowing their rights, if they know their responsibilities and buy the correct ticket for the journey (including making sure they have any required railcards with them before getting the discount) then they shouldn't have any problems. <D
This is going off-topic and I am keen to avoid that, but I will just say that unfortunately, while you are correct that they shouldn't have any problems, the reality is that some people do have problems with Penalty Fares (and other fares) being charged when customers do have valid tickets. :| (for example a case has cropped up only today in another thread!)

I would therefore recommend a compromise that people should know both their rights and their responsibilities ;):D
 
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