Forgotten Railcards: Proposals for system to refund charges

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BestWestern

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More words of wisdom from Barry Doe in this month's RAIL -

Customers forgetting their Railcards should be given a refund later on, he preaches, as "that's what Sainsbury's or M&S would do." Yes, Mr Doe, but both Sainsbury's & M&S will also allow people to share their points cards, which isn't allowed on the railway, is it? Hence the reason people 'forgetting' to bring the RC with them don't get refunded later on, because there is no way of preventing them sending their mates to the booking office with their Railcard a week later :roll:

It really isn't a difficult concept; if you want your discount you bring your RC with you. There are many issues with our ticketing systems today, but I do wish that people would stop bashing the Railcard rules; they are not complex and they are not a problem.

In the same enlightened piece, good old Bazza also tells us "Driver-only IS safe - a train manager is there to assist users and protect revenue." Pretty sure my job description includes some other things as well Barry, though of course we may all be wrong since we know that you are always right. And to think the Government spent millions on McNulty when they could have just asked the equally well informed oracle that is Barry Doe.
 
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cjohnson

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You can get a refund if you've forgotten your season ticket and have to buy a new ticket for that journey (albeit only up two 2 times a year) - why can't a similar system be put in place for railcards?
 

BestWestern

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No idea why it's allowed for Season tickets, presumably as a 'courtesy' because of the high prices paid. I'm not overly in favour of that either I'd have to say.

Railcards are regularly abused by a great many people. I think those who cry unfairness at the rules fail to grasp this. On most journeys, you will find somebody who doesn't have one, or who has one which is well out of date. Often you will find several people. Sometimes it's genuine, very often it isn't. If you don't have one with you when you travel, you aren't entitled to your discount. You pay a bit extra, complete your journey and learn your lesson. It really isn't hard, I fail to understand why some seem to feel such a need for the railway to spend it's time and money processing refunds for these people.
 

michael769

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The comparison with supermarkets is flawed. Supermarkets work in an arena where (at least in major built up areas) there is effective competition. If Sainburys upset me I can go to Asda, which gives Sainburys an incentive to be nicer(ish) to me.

However if Scotrail annoy me I am not in the position to use another ToC, so they have no incentive to go beyond the bare minimum in terms of service.

I agree that it would be perfectly possible to devise a refund scheme that did not jeapordise revenue, however as there is no effective competition there is no commercial reason why they should. It is offered for season because the NCoC contractually compells them to do so. Unless they are similarly compelled to do so for railcards I see little prospect of them being willing to do so.
 

BestWestern

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I agree that it would be perfectly possible to devise a refund scheme that did not jeapordise revenue, however as there is no effective competition there is no commercial reason why they should. It is offered for season because the NCoC contractually compells them to do so. Unless they are similarly compelled to do so for railcards I see little prospect of them being willing to do so.
Again though, the problem comes with the proof that the individual producing the vaild Railcard for refund purposes is the same individual who travelled on the accompanying ticket. If two people make a substantial journey somewhere, one with RC and one normal fare, there is nothing to stop the full fare ticket being given to the RC holder to refund at a later stage. This is the issue, and it's one which I certainly feel would lead to significant loss of revenue once it became common knowledge, particularly if the range of Railcards is widened as seems likely. Unless we change the way in which tickets are checked on board, I would agree that any changes are unlikely.
 

headshot119

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No idea why it's allowed for Season tickets, presumably as a 'courtesy' because of the high prices paid. I'm not overly in favour of that either I'd have to say.

Railcards are regularly abused by a great many people. I think those who cry unfairness at the rules fail to grasp this. On most journeys, you will find somebody who doesn't have one, or who has one which is well out of date. Often you will find several people. Sometimes it's genuine, very often it isn't. If you don't have one with you when you travel, you aren't entitled to your discount. You pay a bit extra, complete your journey and learn your lesson. It really isn't hard, I fail to understand why some seem to feel such a need for the railway to spend it's time and money processing refunds for these people.
I've just been through my stack of used tickets, so far this year I've spent £580 on rail travel. That's in about six months, it's highly likely I'll spend a similar amount if not more between now and December. Almost all of those tickets have been discounted using my railcard.

That will be around £1200 I'll have spent. Well over the price I could have paid for a 12 month season ticket between Wrexham and Chester. Why shouldn't I be afforded the same courtesy as season ticket holders?
 

Ferret

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More words of wisdom from Barry Doe in this month's RAIL -

Customers forgetting their Railcards should be given a refund later on, he preaches, as "that's what Sainsbury's or M&S would do." Yes, Mr Doe, but both Sainsbury's & M&S will also allow people to share their points cards, which isn't allowed on the railway, is it? Hence the reason people 'forgetting' to bring the RC with them don't get refunded later on, because there is no way of preventing them sending their mates to the booking office with their Railcard a week later :roll:

It really isn't a difficult concept; if you want your discount you bring your RC with you. There are many issues with our ticketing systems today, but I do wish that people would stop bashing the Railcard rules; they are not complex and they are not a problem.

In the same enlightened piece, good old Bazza also tells us "Driver-only IS safe - a train manager is there to assist users and protect revenue." Pretty sure my job description includes some other things as well Barry, though of course we may all be wrong since we know that you are always right. And to think the Goverment spent millions on McNulty when they could have just asked the equally well informed oracle that is Barry Doe.

Is he due to retire any time soon? Please?! :|
On point one - XC will refund those who genuinely forget their railcards.

On point two about DOO, yes Barry, whatever you say.......

 

LNW-GW Joint

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More words of wisdom from Barry Doe in this month's RAIL -

Customers forgetting their Railcards should be given a refund later on, he preaches, as "that's what Sainsbury's or M&S would do." Yes, Mr Doe, but both Sainsbury's & M&S will also allow people to share their points cards, which isn't allowed on the railway, is it? Hence the reason people 'forgetting' to bring the RC with them don't get refunded later on, because there is no way of preventing them sending their mates to the booking office with their Railcard a week later :roll:

It really isn't a difficult concept; if you want your discount you bring your RC with you. There are many issues with our ticketing systems today, but I do wish that people would stop bashing the Railcard rules; they are not complex and they are not a problem.
If Railcards were swipe-cards like the supermarkets use for their loyalty cards, and linked to the purchase, you'd have an personalised electronic record of the discounted purchase.
Other TOC loyalty schemes could use the same technology.
It's in widespread use throughout retail.
The railway is miles behind.

Or (gasp) put it on your ITSO card.
 

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That will be around £1200 I'll have spent. Well over the price I could have paid for a 12 month season ticket between Wrexham and Chester. Why shouldn't I be afforded the same courtesy as season ticket holders?
Next you'll be asking for 12 weeks free travel per year too.:roll:

Its quite simple. Season ticket holders pay upfront for their tickets. They are kept on the TOC database. They get benefits.

Railcard holders are leisure travellers and get a benefit for travelling in 'Off peak'. They are issued by a different body to a TOC. A TOC should not have to bear the time and hassle of sorting out people who cant abide by the simple rules of keeping a railcard with you. They only afford season ticket holders 2 free replacements after that it costs them.
If you claimed to lose your railcard and got a replacement what is to stop you from doing this twice for free and handing the 'lost' railcard to another to enjoy discounted travell for which they have not paid for? This is incredibly difficult to do with season tickets as they are matched with a photocard.

Just remember to always keep your railcard with you. It cannot be any more simple then that can it?
 

headshot119

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Next you'll be asking for 12 weeks free travel per year too.:roll:

Its quite simple. Season ticket holders pay upfront for their tickets. They are kept on the TOC database. They get benefits.

Railcard holders are leisure travellers and get a benefit for travelling in 'Off peak'. They are issued by a different body to a TOC. A TOC should not have to bear the time and hassle of sorting out people who cant abide by the simple rules of keeping a railcard with you. They only afford season ticket holders 2 free replacements after that it costs them.
If you claimed to lose your railcard and got a replacement what is to stop you from doing this twice for free and handing the 'lost' railcard to another to enjoy discounted travell for which they have not paid for? This is incredibly difficult to do with season tickets as they are matched with a photocard.

Just remember to always keep your railcard with you. It cannot be any more simple then that can it?
As my 16-25 railcard has my photo stamped into it I doubt giving it to any of me mates would be a good idea.

As for forgetting my railcard, I've had one for over two years, and haven't forgotten it yet, touch wood. It stays in my wallet, and without my wallet I wouldn't be able to buy tickets in the first place.

But the railway as a whole, does itself no favors in the way it handles missing railcards.
 

MikeWh

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More words of wisdom from Barry Doe in this month's RAIL -
...
Is he due to retire any time soon? Please?! :|
It's not the sort of job you need to retire from, so I'd guess probably not. Why don't you write a letter to RAIL magazine putting your views accross? You never know, they might just publish it, and Barry often responds when people comment about his articles.
 

cuccir

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I agree that it would be perfectly possible to devise a refund scheme that did not jeapordise revenue, however as there is no effective competition there is no commercial reason why they should.
This.

There are many different checks and balances that could be put into the process to make it not worthwhile playing the system, but there's no real incentive at the moment for TOCs to change.
 

hluraven

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You can get a refund if you've forgotten your season ticket and have to buy a new ticket for that journey (albeit only up two 2 times a year) - why can't a similar system be put in place for railcards?
The difference is that a season ticket requires a photo card, so theoretically cannot be used by someone else. A railcard may not have a photo card, so can be given to anyone.

Also, if you forget your season ticket, you buy a new single/return ticket and claim a refund on that, so you have a fully valid ticket for travel at all times.

If you buy a ticket with a railcard discount, but forget your railcard, you do not have a valid ticket for travel.

I could maybe understand a system where if you buy a full price ticket in addition to the railcard discounted ticket you cannot use, then you can get a refund subject to the railcard being presented, up to a maximum of twice per year, with admin charges applied, but overall it is very good of the railway to offer a refund to someone who has forgotten their season ticket and far from unreasonable not to extend this to railcards.
 

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This.

There are many different checks and balances that could be put into the process to make it not worthwhile playing the system, but there's no real incentive at the moment for TOCs to change.
Such as?

Next you'll be saying that people who have forgotten their ticket yet have proof they purchased one should be allowed to travel/get a refund on the secondary ticket they bought.
 

Indigo2

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Somebody suggested on here recently that only one excess refund per railcard should be allowed, and the railcard should have a hole punched in it when this is done. I haven't been able to see any major drawbacks yet to this approach (apart from a tough puncher being needed for the hard plastic railcards).
 

34D

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This.

There are many different checks and balances that could be put into the process to make it not worthwhile playing the system, but there's no real incentive at the moment for TOCs to change.
I agree with cuccir.

The obvious thing would be to require the railcard number to be inputted on booking (either online, at a tvm or at a counter).

However, for this to be effective, databases of railcards would need to be created.

With the future ITSO possibilities (where, as I understand it, discount entitlement can be stored on a card) it won't happen.
 

hairyhandedfool

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I've just been through my stack of used tickets, so far this year I've spent £580 on rail travel. That's in about six months, it's highly likely I'll spend a similar amount if not more between now and December. Almost all of those tickets have been discounted using my railcard.

That will be around £1200 I'll have spent. Well over the price I could have paid for a 12 month season ticket between Wrexham and Chester. Why shouldn't I be afforded the same courtesy as season ticket holders?
Why didn't you buy a season ticket?

How much did your Railcard cost you?

What is printed in the conditions of issue for the Railcard?

You do know you can get a refund on the railcard discounted 'walk-up' tickets if you forget it, don't you? Why is that not good enough?

If Railcards were swipe-cards like the supermarkets use for their loyalty cards, and linked to the purchase, you'd have an personalised electronic record of the discounted purchase.
Other TOC loyalty schemes could use the same technology.
It's in widespread use throughout retail.
The railway is miles behind.

Or (gasp) put it on your ITSO card.
If I turned up with a receipt for some goods I had bought from Tesco a week before and a Tesco Club Card Voucher entitling me to 34% off at the time of purchase, would Tesco be obliged to give me a refund in exchange for the voucher?

Why is it so hard to follow the conditions of issue and carry a Railcard with a discounted ticket?

As my 16-25 railcard has my photo stamped into it I doubt giving it to any of me mates would be a good idea....
What is to stop you giving your mate a railcard discounted ticket for his travel (he will claim he forgot his Railcard if challenged) and you claiming back the cost of any new ticket issued?

What would stop you claiming against a regular price ticket used by a mate travelling with you?

....But the railway as a whole, does itself no favors in the way it handles missing railcards.
Wait, so, the Railcard holder has to provide proof that they are eligible for a discount and if they don't the railway should bend over backwards for them? Really????

Somebody suggested on here recently that only one excess refund per railcard should be allowed, and the railcard should have a hole punched in it when this is done. I haven't been able to see any major drawbacks yet to this approach (apart from a tough puncher being needed for the hard plastic railcards).
Many people on here have asked why it is so hard for a 'genuine passenger' to carry a Railcard with a Railcard discounted ticket (or accept the consequences when they don't). I haven't been able to see any major drawbacks yet to this approach (apart from people who don't want to accept responsibility for their own actions or think it is never their fault):roll:
 

LNW-GW Joint

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If I turned up with a receipt for some goods I had bought from Tesco a week before and a Tesco Club Card Voucher entitling me to 34% off at the time of purchase, would Tesco be obliged to give me a refund in exchange for the voucher?
Why is it so hard to follow the conditions of issue and carry a Railcard with a discounted ticket?
No, but they would accept the receipt as proof of purchase, which the railways don't.
I'm not objecting to the rules, just the fact that the railway is still in last century with its retail ticketing and attitudes.
If you have to enforce the current system, I can understand the defensive position, but the whole attitude of customers basically being treated as criminals has to stop.
When you buy a railcard the TOC keeps a record.
It's not the customer's fault if the TOC then bins the form instead of using it intelligently in its database.
Looking forward to getting 2% money-back vouchers from ATOC for buying £1000-worth of tickets in the last year, as shown on my railcard account (not).
 

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Many people on here have asked why it is so hard for a 'genuine passenger' to carry a Railcard with a Railcard discounted ticket (or accept the consequences when they don't). I haven't been able to see any major drawbacks yet to this approach (apart from people who don't want to accept responsibility for their own actions or think it is never their fault):roll:
Dont be silly. Did you not know its the railways responsibility to do anything possible for the 'customer' who cannot follow simple rules and the railway must simply do whatever it takes for the 'customer' as they are always right!!
 

Monty

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Dont be silly. Did you not know its the railways responsibility to do anything possible for the 'customer' who cannot follow simple rules and the railway must simply do whatever it takes for the 'customer' as they are always right!!
Wait, what? It is? That's what I've been doing wrong for all these years. :lol:
 

cuccir

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Next you'll be saying that people who have forgotten their ticket yet have proof they purchased one should be allowed to travel/get a refund on the secondary ticket they bought.
Read my comment. I didn't say that TOCs should be doing anything, I just said that at the moment the barrier is not the impossibility of such a system, but the lack of will. The argument that it's just not possible strikes me as one from a position of small-c conservatism with little willing to innovate.

1. A refund which is only available if the replacement ticket was purchased using a debit/credit card. Debit/Credit card would have to match name of railcard holder, and a refund only given to railcard holder who comes with that card. Not fool-proof, and it wouldn't let everyone get refunds, but much much more difficult to scam on.

2. A 'one-strike' policy, whereby the railcard holder could only do this once per-year-per-railcard.

3. Link railcards to other forms of photographic ID (eg a driver's licence, passport). If you can produce this ID at the time of buying the replacement ticket (and it matches the person travelling!) and when getting the refund (and it still matches you) then fine

These are three options I've come up with over my lunch break (it's raining outside!). None of them are perfect, I grant you, but they could be refined I'm sure with more than 20 minutes work.

Perhaps a scheme such as option 3 could be an optional extra that people would buy, rather like insurance, when buying the railcard? The extra cost would cover the TOC's admin costs, and the simple presence of this option would hammer home that the railcard is required.

I agree that the TOCs shouldn't be obliged to bring in this sort of the thing, but that doesn't have to stop us hoping that they might want to be thinking of new ways to improve customer service...
 

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Read my comment. I didn't say that TOCs should be doing anything, I just said that at the moment the barrier is not the impossibility of such a system, but the lack of will. The argument that it's just not possible strikes me as one from a position of small-c conservatism with little willing to innovate.



1. A refund which is only available if the replacement ticket was purchased using a debit/credit card. Debit/Credit card would have to match name of railcard holder, and a refund only given to railcard holder who comes with that card. Not fool-proof, and it wouldn't let everyone get refunds, but much much more difficult to scam on.

2. A 'one-strike' policy, whereby the railcard holder could only do this once per-year-per-railcard.

3. Link railcards to other forms of photographic ID (eg a driver's licence, passport). If you can produce this ID at the time of buying the replacement ticket (and it matches the person travelling!) and when getting the refund (and it still matches you) then fine

These are three options I've come up with over my lunch break (it's raining outside!). None of them are perfect, I grant you, but they could be refined I'm sure with more than 20 minutes work.

Perhaps a scheme such as option 3 could be an optional extra that people would buy, rather like insurance, when buying the railcard? The extra cost would cover the TOC's admin costs, and the simple presence of this option would hammer home that the railcard is required.

I agree that the TOCs shouldn't be obliged to bring in this sort of the thing, but that doesn't have to stop us hoping that they might want to be thinking of new ways to improve customer service...
I know when I had a YP railcard I was glad of the discount, not thinking the train companies should spend money on ways to make sure I got the dicount when I'd forgotten my card (which oddly, I never did as I kept it in the same wallet as my tickets).

All these suggestions have been made many times but they seem overkill when none are required if people remember their railcard (which is one of the conditions of it).

Should people be allowed to travel if they've left their ticket at home so long as they bring it along at some point to a station? If not, why is that different?
 

170401

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Personally as a Guard of 10 years, I find it unbeleivable the amount of fraud that is carried out on a daily basis by 'law abiding' passengers.

The real crux of the problem is that most people don't see what they do as fare evasion or criminal. The ones that pretend to be sleeping, pretend they cannot hear you, the ones who 'accidentaly' bought a child ticket from the machine or thought they only had to show their railcard to the man at the window and gave it back to 'mummy' for safe keeping, the ones who thought it would be ok to pay on the train or when they got off or didn't see the first class stickers. In other words the chancers of society, which believe me are far more numerous than the occasional 'genuine' case.

When you apply the rules in such situations most of the genuine cases tend to accept their mistake, maybe get a wee bit embarrassed by their actions and pay for a new ticket without hesitating and then go on to learn from their mistake and never make it again. The key word here is LEARN. If the railway is forced to accept new measures where will the capacity be for people to learn from their mistakes and move on, they won't is the answer and we will decline into a situation where people keep on making the same mistakes, expecting the railway to bail them out until we get to the stage of acceptance and then it becomes the norm.

if we introduced the ridiculous measures that messrs Doe, Harris and others are grumbling for then it would simply create a haven for chancers and cheats and you might as well open the barriers and let them do what they like.
 

SS4

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I agree that it would be perfectly possible to devise a refund scheme that did not jeapordise revenue, however as there is no effective competition there is no commercial reason why they should. It is offered for season because the NCoC contractually compells them to do so. Unless they are similarly compelled to do so for railcards I see little prospect of them being willing to do so.
Apart from the man-hours needed to maintain such a database presumably? Even if you use existing staff it means less time doing other things that are actually necessary to the business.

Apart from the 16-25 card do any cards have a photo ID on?

At what point does the customer become responsible for his or her own actions? I wonder what proportion of railcard holders successfully manage to bring it for every discounted trip they make? If it's a high proportion as I suspect then it's merely using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
 

hairyhandedfool

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No, but they would accept the receipt as proof of purchase, which the railways don't....
A ticket is proof of purchase. A Railcard is proof of purchase.

....I'm not objecting to the rules, just the fact that the railway is still in last century with its retail ticketing and attitudes....
So, because people can't adhere to conditions they agreed to, the railway should bend over backwards for them? I wonder if the railway can work in the same way.

....If you have to enforce the current system, I can understand the defensive position,...
I should hope so too.

....but the whole attitude of customers basically being treated as criminals has to stop....
Customers are people who pay the correct fare for a valid ticket the journey that is being made. Passengers are people who travel with a valid ticket for the journey being made. Criminals break laws. People who are attempting to travel without a valid ticket are attempting to break the law. You do the maths.

....When you buy a railcard the TOC keeps a record.
It's not the customer's fault if the TOC then bins the form instead of using it intelligently in its database....
Clearly you have no idea what happens to the forms and what records are kept, so maybe you shouldn't comment on that.

....Looking forward to getting 2% money-back vouchers from ATOC for buying £1000-worth of tickets in the last year, as shown on my railcard account (not)....
Yeah, because Railcard holders don't already get 34% off do they?:roll:
 

island

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As my 16-25 railcard has my photo stamped into it I doubt giving it to any of me mates would be a good idea.

As for forgetting my railcard, I've had one for over two years, and haven't forgotten it yet, touch wood. It stays in my wallet, and without my wallet I wouldn't be able to buy tickets in the first place.

But the railway as a whole, does itself no favors in the way it handles missing railcards.
It's "favours", not "favors".

As mentioned above the photo doesn't do very much to avoid fraudulent use of discounted tickets. Even if it did, only 16-25 and Two Together railcards have photos AFAIK.
3. Link railcards to other forms of photographic ID (eg a driver's licence, passport). If you can produce this ID at the time of buying the replacement ticket (and it matches the person travelling!) and when getting the refund (and it still matches you) then fine
Or... here's an idea. The person could be required to produce their Railcard when buying or using their ticket!

Who honestly takes their passport around with them, or carries their Railcard separately from the rest of their wallet including driving licence photocard (if held)?
 

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1. A refund which is only available if the replacement ticket was purchased using a debit/credit card. Debit/Credit card would have to match name of railcard holder, and a refund only given to railcard holder who comes with that card. Not fool-proof, and it wouldn't let everyone get refunds, but much much more difficult to scam on.

2. A 'one-strike' policy, whereby the railcard holder could only do this once per-year-per-railcard.

3. Link railcards to other forms of photographic ID (eg a driver's licence, passport). If you can produce this ID at the time of buying the replacement ticket (and it matches the person travelling!) and when getting the refund (and it still matches you) then fine

...
Oh I love number 3 the best. With this one it adds yet another fantastic layer of bother for the TOC. I mean - you would have to pull the guard out of duty to ensure that they remembered the person they done this too leaving a service without a guard and therefore a cancellation of service as they would have to employ loads of staff to cover such things. Brilliant that. I cant stop laughing.

The other two still rely on a database created that could be accessed by all TOCS.They have enough trouble creating a simplified ticketing system.
 

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I am so glad the railways are staffed by paragons who never forget anything, and always read and understand all the terms and Conditions of every transaction they carry out. They act as a sure guard against the rest of the population, who are chancer thieves whose sole purpose is to rob the company.
Or perhaps the staff could accept that they are in a service industry, and that making and keeping the customer happy with the product is the ONLY way to protect revenue and ultimately continue the existence of the company and the industry.
 

Deerfold

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Or perhaps the staff could accept that they are in a service industry, and that making and keeping the customer happy with the product is the ONLY way to protect revenue and ultimately continue the existence of the company and the industry.
But there's levels of reasonableness with how far you go with that.

You could give everyone a free ride and have lots of very happy travellers but unless there's a change in government policy to fund that it won't happen.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I am so glad the railways are staffed by paragons who never forget anything, and always read and understand all the terms and Conditions of every transaction they carry out.
I don't work for National Rail but I do work for TfL. I get free staff travel on the Underground and London Buses. If I forget my pass (and I have) I have to pay - even if I have other staff ID. This is probably why I've only fogotten it 3 times in 10 years.
 
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