Groupsave, TVMs and FCC customer services response

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zoothorn

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I recently had occasion to try purchase Group Save 3 Off Peak Return ticket from our local FCC station ticket office but could not do so as the ticket printer was faulty - it printed 5 of the 6 tickets before failing :( .
So I had to purchase the tickets from a TVM, which did not seem to have an option for Group Save 3. I followed it up with FCC customer services to get a refund in the difference in cost between the group save and the undiscounted OPR tickets. This has all been sorted out fairly efficiently but what I want to raise for discussion is the text of the email, largely repeated in a letter that came with the rail travel vouches for the difference and quoted below:

“We want to give our customers convenient ways to buy tickets and the machines are a valuable facility for the many people who use them. Any member of staff will be happy to help you use a machine or if you travel when there are no staff available, you can call the Customer Relations Team on 0845 026 4700 and we will do our best to help. However, I would like to inform you that You can purchase Group Save 3 or 4 from the ticket machine but only from the Shere machines i.e. the newer style machines. The older S&B machines are unable to provide this service.

We are keen to incorporate customer feedback into our service and I have logged your comments regarding the ticket machines. This will help us identify areas where our service can be improved.”

1) As there was only one member of staff in the booking office wrestling with his machine, and a queue of other customers behind us he was not really in a position to show us how to use the machine and in normal circumstances is the ticket office clerk likely to lock up their office to show passengers how to use a machine?
2) With a few minutes before a train going are you going to call a premium rate number to get a TVM tutorial?
3) How is the average passenger, or for that matter a knowledgeable one as I might regard myself, going to distinguish between makes of ticket machine (none of which have any maker’s plates on them) and which are newer or older. Our station has 4 machines of 3 different types.?
4) What sort of customer service is it that different machines offer different ticket type options?
5) Nowhere do customers services suggest how to find the GS options, it’s not under railcards as it is online.
6) Subsequent research suggests that it is shown as part of the ticket options when you key in your destination having selected number of passengers BUT ONLY FOR CERTAIN DESTINATIONS, not for all by any means and not for the journey I wanted to do.

It seems to me that customer services is focussing on the problem from a rail insider’s POV rather than the passenger which cannot be good.
 
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island

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Thanks for pushing this. Can you reply to ask what customers are supposed to do if the only ticketing facility available is an S&B machine?
 

RPI

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Thanks for pushing this. Can you reply to ask what customers are supposed to do if the only ticketing facility available is an S&B machine?

The official line is that you buy a ticket for at least part of your journey and then pay the excess on the train or at your destination but this doesnt work in practice as FCC would probably try and MG11 you for travelling over distance! ;)

I can only speak for what we are instructed to do by the TOC i work for and that is if the customer cant get the ticket they want from the machine then use discretion and apply common sense to the situation, basically sell them the ticket on the train, same applys for rovers/rangers from stations where there is just a TVM. SWT have S&B TVM's that are able to issue groupsave tickets but i believe it involves an expensive software upgrade.
 

RJ

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Thanks for pushing this. Can you reply to ask what customers are supposed to do if the only ticketing facility available is an S&B machine?

This is covered in the National Rail Conditions of Carriage, Condition 3. A ticket is supposed to be purchased for part of the journey, to be exchanged for the correct ticket at the first opportunity.
 

RPI

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RJ is quite right there, obviously the other option if available is a Permit to Travel.
 

yorkie

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But you should still ask FCC as some TOCs have a policy of not wanting you to buy a part-ticket and excess, for example SWT told a forum member he should have boarded without a ticket, and he could not excess his ticket and would have to wait several days for it to be refunded and made him fill in a form. SET also told Island to board without a ticket, I recall.

So not all TOCs want you to buy a ticket for part of the journey and excess. It would be useful to have something official in writing from each TOC to determine which policy applies.
 

RJ

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RJ is quite right there, obviously the other option if available is a Permit to Travel.

It's better than what I had to deal with! Families of 8 coming from stations with no ticket offices - conductors on board selling them full priced return tickets, then telling them to go to the ticket office to obtain a full refund and purchase Groupsave tickets.

Saturday morning shifts, always guaranteed to have dozens of non issues :roll:
 

island

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The official line is that you buy a ticket for at least part of your journey and then pay the excess on the train or at your destination but this doesnt work in practice as FCC would probably try and MG11 you for travelling over distance! ;)

This is covered in the National Rail Conditions of Carriage, Condition 3. A ticket is supposed to be purchased for part of the journey, to be exchanged for the correct ticket at the first opportunity.

I am fully aware of the official rule, but as yorkie subsequently mentioned, some TOCs have given other instructions (including, as he also mentioned, SET). On the contrary, I have completed the part-exchange arrangement with LM guards on several occasions when the full range of tickets was not available at a station due to a ticket office manager taking it upon himself to instruct staff not to sell a certain ticket!
 

trevmonk

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FCC have taken to putting stickers on their TVMs saying "This machine does not sell Groupsave tickets", presumably because many people have been charged double what they should have been when travelling in a party of 4.

But I think FCC have been tinkering with the software on the machines. Yesterday at one of their machines I selected 3 adult and 1 child tickets with a Gold Card discount. The tickets printed had the normal Gold Card 34% discount applied and the child flat fare of £2 as expected BUT in the railcard field it printed GPS-3 instead of GOLDC. I suspect the machine is trying to apply a Groupsave fare but only getting it half right, in typical FCC fashion.

The total price I paid for the four tickets was the Goldcard total of £16.70.
The price with Groupsave 3 would have been £15.80 (with a child £1 flat rate).
The price with Groupsave 4 would have been £14.80 (with a child taking an adult ticket).

If I make this journey again I'll go to the ticket office instead!
 
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