Govia Thameslink Railway: Issues regarding ticket validity across brands

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Sacro, 1 Sep 2015.

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  1. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    Every time I've been on a Thameslink service to/from London Bridge run by a Southern branded 377 since December it is always announced as a Southern service.
     
  2. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    So we have four variables:

    -customer information screens at stations

    -the printed timetable

    -the external livery

    -the internal visual and audible system?

    Is this thread all made up, or do they actually issue pf's for being on a green train when the ticket is blue?
     
  3. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    On a green train working a blue service with onboard announcements being for a green service. I'm sure if they took someone to court the judge would laugh it out.
     
  4. maniacmartin

    maniacmartin Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    Today I saw a green-liveried train with Thameslink stickers on the side stuck over where the Southern logo used to be!

    On a more serious note, I would argue that in Appendix C, as it is the legally registered company name on the left, with the trading name in brackets, then it is the legal name that counts, not the trading name.

    I don't agree with yorkie that we should check Companies House, however my interpretation yields the same results anyway.
     
    Last edited: 17 Sep 2015
  5. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I'm not saying we should ;), but it's just part of the overwhelming evidence that the Company is Govia Thameslink Railway, and brand names such as Southern or Gatwick Express are, in fact, not companies (any more!).

    They just need to admit that it's all one Company and advertise their trains as such and none of these problems will be an issue. Sub-branding is fine (e.g. the days of Thameslink Metro/Flyer) but pretending a brand is a Company is ludicrous, as this thread shows.

    It's all very amusing... until you're issued a Penalty Fare for £££s by Govia Thameslink Railway for taking one of their trains for the reason "Other - Thameslink Only". I'd see that as an attempt at deception.

    If only we had a proper regulator, watchdog or ombudsman to turn to...
     
  6. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    I think that Govia themselves dont particularly like the current situation but its unlikely that any changes will take place until:
    a) the Thameslink Blockade is complete
    b) Cross Rail opens
    the reason is that there will be a fundamental shift in passenger flows which will require the renegotiation of the aportionment of both Travelcard and Normal ticket flows over a wide area.
     
  7. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    There are two things they must do in the current franchise, as per the franchise spec.

    One is to remove the differentiation between Southern and Thameslink fares on the Brighton Line. (Without hardship to people with existing Thameslink fares)

    The other is to somehow remove the anomaly whereby the group destination of "London Thameslink" is only available from the north of London.

    If they were to have got off their backsides, there's not much of a reason that couldn't have started to happen in the next fares round after merger. But I bet it doesn't...
     
  8. DY444

    DY444 Member

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    Not sure if it's been mentioned or even if it's true but someone told me recently that alternate GatEx's are to be extended to Brighton all day "soon" (? December). If that does indeed happen then these muddy waters will presumably get muddier
     
  9. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    It will definitely happen, it's been public knowledge since the post franchise award announcements, and is now visible in normal journey planners anyway.
     
  10. maniacmartin

    maniacmartin Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    In one respect they have been put in a difficult situation by the franchise merger as they can't just abolish the Thameslink Only fare overnight for two reasons that I can see:
    • These passengers would all run to the media and their MPs that their cheaper tickets have been abolished, and it would negatively affect their PR
    • There would be no incentive to take the slower Thameslink trains via Tulse Hill, especially given that some still have horrid old stock, so a lot of those commuters would switch to services to London Bridge or Victoria if there was no incentive for them to go on the slower route. These services are already full at peak time!

    I thought about this for a while and the bet solution I could come up with is to replace THAMESLINK ONLY with a geographical routing VIA LOUGHBORO JN or similar, and keep those tickets at the same price they were before. This would counter the two points I mentioned above, but also remove the need to check which brand operates which service.

    There would be some friction from users of those Thameslink services that terminate at London Bridge, but I think those services should be Southern-branded anyway given the tickets are discounted
     
    Last edited: 18 Sep 2015
  11. greatkingrat

    greatkingrat Established Member

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    Or maybe just have a restriction of "Not Clapham J"? That blocks off Gatwick Express and Southern to Victoria. It would still allow Southern to London Bridge though.
     
  12. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    My suggestion is to make the Thameslink Super Off Peak Day Return tickets available every day (obviously heavily time restricted on a weekday) and make them 'Any Permitted'.

    Then abolish the 'Thameslink Only' tickets and price the 'Any Permitted' SDR/CDR/SVR somewhere between the 'Thameslink Only' and 'Any Permitted' fares. I'm sure GTR could come up with an appropriate mid-point to ensure no revenue loss.

    This would extend the availability of the cheapest fares and although would result in more expensive journeys for some passengers using Thameslink Only fares at peak times they would have more trains they could use.

    Another suggestion is to make all the 'Thameslink Only' fares 'Any Permitted' which would be a large price decrease. Then allow these fares to rise by (say) RPI + 5% per year, until they catch up with the price of the historical 'Any Permitted' fare. If managed properly it could be spun as a discount for the next few years for the London Bridge disruption.
     
  13. Sacro

    Sacro Member

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    Which differs from the open data timetable.

    The printed one showed "SN" for the 442s, whereas the open data (and hence websites using it) still shows "GX"
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Aside from the fun at weekends when you get diversions, it's possible to get to VIctoria without going via Clapham Junction.
     
  14. IslandDweller

    IslandDweller Member

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    This is a slightly tangential point, but further illustrates the terrible confusion between legal entities and operating brands on this route. A few weeks ago I was travelling from East Croydon to Gatwick. I had all sorts of bother with the recalcitrant ticket machine before I was eventually able to obtain my ticket (big queue at the manned window). I subsequently discovered that I'd been charged three times over. I raised a dispute with my card issuer (American Express) about this, which inevitably generated some admin paperwork. According to the charge records submitted to American Express, I'd dealt with "South Central". I pointed out to Amex that no such company exists, but they told me they just print what comes into them from the merchant.
    Luckily for me American Express refunded the incorrect charges without fuss, but this sort of hopeless wrong data reflects badly on the rail industry.
     
  15. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    indeed, and I feel sorry for the majority of Train Companies who do try to do things in the right way.

    Sadly there is no proactive ombudsman and no passenger watchdog with any real teeth to get the likes of GTR to act properly.
     
  16. Stats

    Stats Member

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    Please quote to me the regulation(s) that you believe GTR are in breach of. I'm interested to know. I dread to think how angry you are going to be when this happens in your neck of the woods when the new Northern franchise starts, where there will be 3 different brands - the standard Northern brand, the Northern Regional Express brand and the North East brand.
     
  17. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I struggle to see what the big deal is with a different name appearing on your statement. It happens frequently in all areas of life.

    What is important is whether you understand who it is. If you don't, you raise it with your card issuer as a suspect transaction. If you do, then what's the problem? I have had to do exactly that with an LMS subscription charge last year after they changed the collection agent and did not tell the members. I did not feel the need to complain about the fact that the statement did not say "London Mathematical Society" once I managed to successfully confirm that it was not a fraudulent activity.
     
  18. IslandDweller

    IslandDweller Member

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    "I struggle to see what the big deal is with a different name appearing on your statement. It happens frequently in all areas of life."
    We clearly see the world from a very different perspective. It does happen sometimes, but there is usually no ambiguity who the real organisation is. On that ticket purchase I'd argue there is huge ambiguity. If you're trying to suggest that "Express", "Thameslink" or "Southern" all have a separate existence, which of those brands is the successor to South Central? If Amex hadn't sorted this quickly, who would have I raised a dispute with? Answer none of them, in legal terms it has to be GoVia. But I only know that because I read these forums. I'd wager 95% of customers on this route have no idea.
    I've spent much of my working life in financial services, an industry that has been shown recently to have some appalling ethical failures (and I do not excuse those scandals).
    That said, on the matter of being clear who the client is legally contracting with, it was taken very seriously in financial services and much time and effort was put into getting it right. I'm not a lawyer but I've spent years working alongside them in multiple corporate restructures, mergers, demergers and takeovers. We went to huge trouble to ensure all contracts, marketing material, websites etc had the right name. Yes, we might use a "brand" but everything had to make clear who the legal contracting party is. There'd always be a statement such as "smiley bank" is a brand name of "mega bank", "full registered office address", "company registration number". The lawyers I worked with were unanimous that if we failed to that, and anything went to court, the court would go against us and our contract would not be enforceable.
    Not taking these matters seriously (and GoVia and dft are being cavalier with names) is (in my opinion) failing the "treat the customer fairly" test.
     
  19. talldave

    talldave Established Member

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    Sadly for customers of GTR there's no law against them being a bunch of incompetent muppets. But as long as they avoid a VW or Talk Talk moment, they'll blunder on quite happily as they are.
     
  20. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    What ambiguity? How does it make any difference? You raise the dispute with your card issuer, ie. Amex in your case.

    Yes, we clearly see things from different perspectives. I'd like to focus on more important issues, such as whether you actually understood who the charge was from. How many people actually get confused by it? Talk of making a mountain out of a molehill.
     
  21. Stats

    Stats Member

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    You appear to be looking for a problem where none exists. Within a company there can be several businesses each with their own trading name. It happens in every industry. Furthermore, a merchant can nominate what ever name they choose to appear on a statement.
     
  22. AngusH

    AngusH Member

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    Was there a receipt generated from the ticket machine and what did it say?

    I seem to recall being told that businesses must put their full legal name on all receipts and paperwork of most types, it being an offence not do so.

    I've never heard of any company being prosecuted for failing to do this, but it does seem careless for such a large company to be unclear as to who they are.

    It's also inherently stupid, having credit card transactions where the name is wholly unfamiliar are going to lead to chargebacks. "I've never heard of that company" being an obvious and true statement.
    This is going to cause trouble for the railway company eventually. Even if they win the dispute with the customer.
     
    Last edited: 25 Oct 2015
  23. JaJaWa

    JaJaWa Established Member

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    I bought a ticket on the Thameslink website and Barclays phoned me and asked if I had purchased anything from "TSGN webTIS" - luckily I knew what they were on about, but I'm not sure if much of the general public would.
     
    Last edited: 25 Oct 2015
  24. IslandDweller

    IslandDweller Member

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    A merchant can nominate whatever name they want. Yes, but is that sensible behaviour, especially if the "brand name" has long since vanished from most people's consciousness? If the nominated name is obvious, then no problem. But GoVia issuing credit card charge records showing South Central. A company that ceased to operate the franchise how many years ago? Are you suggesting that's sensible? Are you suggesting that shows the rail industry as "doing the right thing"? It just strikes me as sloppiness.
    The other question. What did the receipt say? That's the nub of the chargeback. The machine issued nothing - no ticket, no receipt. I assumed the whole transaction had failed (we've all encountered machines that play up) and only discovered much later that multiple charges had gone through.
    The problem was resolved quickly for me because American Express were proactive and helpful with the chargeback. I'm not pretending I was disadvantaged. I am saying it did nothing to improve my opinion of GoVia. I know enough to differentiate between different franchise holders, but if/when this happens to most members of the public, it'll tarnish their view of the rail companies in aggregate.
     
  25. anme

    anme Established Member

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    I tend to agree that merchants should nominate a meaningful name for electronic transactions. But this problem is not limited to the rail industry. A quick check of my bank statement for the last ten days or so shows 20-30% of transactions have merchant names that don't obviously match the name of the business I was dealing with. They are all genuine, but I had to think carefully about a few of them, and work out what they were from the time and date.

    You might have more success directing your anger at the banks, who seem to accept more or less anything as a merchant name and don't require any attempt to keep it up to date, or maybe your MP.
     
  26. Skimble19

    Skimble19 Established Member

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    I wouldn't worry, on the Great Northern route there are various ticket machines that show "wagn FCC Gt Nothern" :lol:
     
  27. JaJaWa

    JaJaWa Established Member

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    Is it cheaper for them to add letters to their name on the card processing system than remove them!?
     
  28. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    I was very very confused not so long ago on my statement, which had simply 'Banker's Draft' and a negative value. I later realised that it was the name of a Wetherspoons!
     
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