HELP - Fine Dispute

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GKP2016

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Hello,
I've received a letter from Northern Rail regarding a journey made between stations Prestbury and Poynton. I got stopped and asked to present a ticket, however I explained that I did not have chance to buy one as there is no ticket office in Prestbury and no staff on the train came through the carriages to ask for a ticket. I offered to pay for the fare at Poynton but their ticket office was closed and there were no other facilities there to buy a ticket. The person who stopped me could not take money off me either. The gentleman who stopped me was perfectly polite and understanding and said he'll note that I offered to pay him the fare and that neither station had a facility to buy a ticket at the time. He then went on to take my details and I was completely compliant and gave him everything he needed. He then said I'd receive a letter instructing me how to pay the fare which I thought was acceptable and I was on my way thinking nothing more of it. However, I haven't received a letter asking for the fare but a letter demanding I pay an £80 fine plus the fare price as I had 'avoided' paying it!? I have since written to Northern Rail and explained I in no way avoided paying the fare I just simply had no opportunity to due to the lack of facility at both stations. I also stated I am happy to pay the original outstanding fare as I did make this journey and as of yet haven't paid for it. I'd just like to know am I in the wrong? and what should I expect to hear from Northern Rail?

Many thanks.
 
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sheff1

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Welcome

No, you are not in the wrong. All you owe is the fare for the journey you made. Ideally, you should have sent a cheque for the single fare of £2.90 when you replied to Northern as that should have closed the matter.

I am not sure whether it is best to now wait for Northern to reply, or send the payment before they do so. Hopefully, others can advise.
 

clagmonster

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Not in the wrong at all, no byelaw offence has occurred as you started your journey at a station with no fare paying facilities and you offered up your fare at the first opportunity, thus did not avoid payment of the fare. However, as you note the fare is still outstanding so needs paying. How do Northern request the £80 plus fare is paid. Is there an option to pay by telephone or by cheque. If so, I would suggest using one of these and pay just the fare.
 

najaB

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I'd just like to know am I in the wrong? and what should I expect to hear from Northern Rail?
No, you are not in the wrong. If there were no ticket purchasing facilities then you need only pay the fare due.
 

DaveNewcastle

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On the face of it, the advice from others is correct.

But I do want to add a word of caution and to check one detail with you, before I add my own advice.

Firstly, you may be absolutely blameless for the reasons you have given, but the fact is, that someone in the Company's revenue protection team thinks otherwise, and they can only be doing that based on what's in front of them. There seems to be some detail which we don't know that has led at least one person there to believe that you acted wrongly. It would be helpful to find out what evidence thay have that leads them to that conclusion, rather than just sit back and feel confident that all is okay. Maybe someone has made a mistake, but maybe there is something else that we don't know. It would be wise to keep an open mind and if you really can't think of anything else that you haven't mentioned, then best to be prepared for something unexpected.

Secondly, you say that the Company has 'demanded £80 plus the fare'. Id that really what the letter says? Is it really a demand? What I'm used to seeing is a letter which advises that an offence of travelling without a ticket (when the oportunity to buy was available) appears to have been committed, but rather than prosecute the offence which the Company is perfectly entitled to do, they are offering an alternative resolution (which is the £80 administative settlement to cover their revenur protection costs) which would avoid both of you having to go to Court and to make any arguments you have there.
If it is the offer of an alternative resolution that I think it is, then you should be careful to treat it as such. You can reply explaining that you decline their offer and are happy to defend the claim in Court and perhaps happy to cross-examine their Witness and to put their Evidence to proof. If you do, and there has been a mistake, then that should be the end of it. But if you simply ignore it feeling confident that you have done no wrong, then someone is going to carry on assembling a small bundle of documents to prove to a Court that you had done wrong, and you're not going to want to be unprepared for that moment.

So while the advice above is entirely correct, it shouldn't put you in a position of confidence. Not until you know what you are up against. I think you need to speak to the Company again and find out what they have on their file about that incident before it goes any further.
 

crehld

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I've been in your situation myself.

I resolved it by replying and stating the facts of the situation (as you have presented above). Like DaveNewcastle suggests I also invited them to furnish me any additional information they had to suggest I was in the wrong (although they couldn't do so).

I'll caution you that this was a long process - it took over two months of back and forth to convince Northern that no offence had been committed, so do not relent. You might find it useful to print off extracts of the national rail and Northern's website confirming the lack of facilities at your origin station (In my case they only relented once I returned the summons and copied Northern into the evidence I was presenting in my defence).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
On the face of it, the advice from others is correct.

But I do want to add a word of caution and to check one detail with you, before I add my own advice.

Firstly, you may be absolutely blameless for the reasons you have given, but the fact is, that someone in the Company's revenue protection team thinks otherwise, and they can only be doing that based on what's in front of them. There seems to be some detail which we don't know that has led at least one person there to believe that you acted wrongly. It would be helpful to find out what evidence thay have that leads them to that conclusion, rather than just sit back and feel confident that all is okay. Maybe someone has made a mistake, but maybe there is something else that we don't know. It would be wise to keep an open mind and if you really can't think of anything else that you haven't mentioned, then best to be prepared for something unexpected.
You have said in a previous thread that Northern do not actually assess any evidence until an £80 settlement is declined. This being the case, then IF the situation is as the OP describes, the likely explanation is incompetence.
 

GKP2016

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Thank you all for you help. The letter didn't necessarily demand the £80 but did state it was a fine so I felt as though it had been demanded as it threatened a bigger fine of £150 if I didn't pay this. I rang the helpline number for northern rail that was on the letter and explained my situation. The lady that answered said that there was definitely a case to be made and I should write a letter to northern rail to dispute the fine which I have done. All in all, I'm extremely certain that I am not in the wrong and everything that happened I have explained truthfully, I just wanted some outside opinions. So once again, thank you all very much. Hopefully the situation can be resolved between myself and northern rail. I once again stated in my letter I am happy to pay for the fare. Hopefully I can send payment once I've heard back from them.

Many thanks.
 

miami

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Have you sent the cheque for the fare you owe? (£2.90)

Absolutely dispicable behaviour, I'm surprised it isn't illegal for northern to be demanding money in this fashion.
 

bignosemac

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This OP has to take time and effort fending off the wholly unwarranted 'fine'.

Not advice as such, but if I was in this situation I'd merely send the cheque for the fare owed with nothing more than a note containing the reference number from the letter sent by Northern's 'demanding money with menaces'... sorry, Prosecutions Dept.

If that department can't see that the OP started at a station with no facilities then they really are incompetent.
 
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Clip

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I would agree with the above as its wholly unreasonable to expect them to purchase a ticket where they cant!!

Unless the NCoC dont apply here as they dont in another thread??
 

miami

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This OP has to take time and effort fending off the wholly unwarranted 'fine'.

Not advice as such, but if I was in this situation I'd merely send the cheque for the fare owed with nothing more than a note containing the reference number from the letter sent by Northern's 'demanding money with menaces'... sorry, Prosecutions Dept.

If that department can't see that the OP started at a station with no facilities then they really are incompetent.

Perhaps also include a bill for the cost of sending the cheque?

I wouldn't advise formally addressing it to the blackmail department. I'm surprised RPIs aren't allowed to issue an unpaid fare notice though?
 

miami

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I believe they can - isn't that what their 'failure to purchase' scheme is all about?

But an unpaid fare notice demands you pay the fare due within x days, it doesn't say anything about "£80 fine plus the fare price", so this isn't a UFN

If it were (and what was appropriate), I believe you can then simply pay the fare online at https://www.ircas.co.uk/payments/getnotice.aspx?id=26, no need for stamps or letters or stress.

As this didn't happen, the question is why didn't the RPI issue such a notice

* Did they not believe where the OP boarded (that doesn't sound likely from the OPs report)
* Prestbury actually had ticket issueing facilities (http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/PRB/details.html states it doesn't - no machine, no office)
* Northern rail have a policy of sending £80 fines to everyone without even looking at the evidence in front of them

In that case of not believing where the OP boarded I'd expect them to be prosecuting for fare evasion.

crehld has already stated that option 3 (send the fine, hope people pay) is most likely, and also stated that this leads to a great deal of expense (in time and perhaps money) and presumably stress on the wronged party.

I advise the OP pay the £2.90 as soon as possible, a cheque via recorded delivery and a covering note (including any reference the extortion* letter has). That should be the end of it, and OP is only out by £1.30 for the cost of the post.

At that point complaint letters to Northern/MPs/Newspapers would be an option

* dictionary definition
 
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najaB

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But an unpaid fare notice demands you pay the fare due within x days, it doesn't say anything about "£80 fine plus the fare price", so this isn't a UFN.
Failure to purchase notices don't require anything more to be paid than the fare due.
 

DaveNewcastle

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I'll guess, GKP2016, that you took the excellent advice given to you on here a week ago. I hope so, because some of today's 'advice' is highly unreliable, factually incorrect and misleading. Please disregard the misinformed opinions refering to 'fines', 'extortion', 'demands', 'complaints', Newspapers, MPs etc.

It's all really very simple.
If you still haven't responded, then remember that you are under no obligation to accept the offer of paying an administrative settlement; you are entitled to consider letting this matter (trivial as it is) go forward to Court; Northern Rail are equally entitled to consider letting this matter (trivial as it is) go forward to Court; and you are entitled to state the simple facts. Which should be the end of it.
No MPs
No Newspapers
No Courts.

But I'll repeat my earlier caution, that there must be something in the file which suggests that the facts weren't as you have reported them to be. If you still haven't clarified what that difference in opinion is with the Revenue Protection & Prosecutions team, then I do urge you to do so as soon as you can.

It could be as simple as the ticket office closing for a short rest break whose log hadn't reached the revenue protection team as promptly as it should. (Not your fault if that's the explanation, and worthy of a tangible apology).

paulweaver points out that he'd expect the Company to seek a prosecution if they suspected wrongdoing. I can assure that they do, in large numbers, every week. But even in those cases, for a first-time offender, the alternative resolution is still offered as a matter of course, for the offender to accept as a genuine alternative.
 

miami

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DaveNewcastle's advice of "that someone in the Company's revenue protection team thinks otherwise, and they can only be doing that based on what's in front of them" seems to be contary to his other advice that "Northern do not actually assess any evidence until an £80 settlement is declined. ". Take that however you want.

However regardless of their fishing letters, you still owe the £2.90 (despite Northern being unwilling to collect it at the time). As sheff1 says, "Ideally, you should have sent a cheque for the single fare of £2.90 when you replied to Northern as that should have closed the matter."

Have you paid now?

Once there is no longer a threat hanging over you, I'd hope you remember that for every person who doesn't pay their demanded £80 there are half a dozen who will pay, and rightly badmouth the railway to their social groups. I hope you get some form of apology from them, and raising it with your mp and/or in a local paper may well inform others who fall for this trap.
 

Clip

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DaveNewcastle's advice of "that someone in the Company's revenue protection team thinks otherwise, and they can only be doing that based on what's in front of them" seems to be contary to his other advice that "Northern do not actually assess any evidence until an £80 settlement is declined. ". Take that however you want.

.

I dont see it as contradictory, mainly both sides of a coin when giving advice.


. I hope you get some form of apology from them, and raising it with your mp and/or in a local paper may well inform others who fall for this trap


What is it with people about going to a paper?

Northern have messed up here so I hope they sort it as they should.
 

CheesyChips

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What is it with people about going to a paper?

It's a good way to spread the message about unfair practices especially where there's nowhere for the public to turn when being treated unfairly.

If every rail user knew of Northern's £80 dispensation, then people may weigh up the situation more rather than the majority unquestionably paying up.

The bad PR doesn't necessarily affect railway business, but it can make the senior management look stupid, which is a magical catalyst for change.
 

bignosemac

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I suppose defending the indefensible is the job of a lawyer. :roll:

I'm actually hoping that Northern do proceed to court with a few of these indefensible cases where they've attempted to extort £80 when there is no case to answer. Only then can the practice be held up to scrutiny.
 

crehld

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What is it with people about going to a paper?

Northern have messed up here so I hope they sort it as they should.

The OP is advised to resolve the matter with Northern in the first instance.

If the OP's account is all that they say it is (and we have no reason whatsoever to doubt their account of events) then yes Northern have messed up. Worryingly, however, this is not for the first time and these mistakes do happen with alarming frequency, have been happening for a long time, and are wholly avoidable. As Northern do not seem able to put the necessary processes in place to ensure such mistakes do not happen, then I do believe it is in the public interest to highlight this. Raising awareness with media attention or even a legislator might be an effective method for this.

In any case, the OP should resolve their matter with Northern first before pursuing any additional action. I really don't think there's any more advice to be offered until Northern have returned to the OP with their re-assessment of the case.
 

najaB

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As Northern do not seem able to put the necessary processes in place to ensure such mistakes do not happen, then I do believe it is in the public interest to highlight this. Raising awareness with media attention or even a legislator might be an effective method for this.
Bearing in mind, of course, that Northern is shortly to be 'under new management'.
 
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