Inconsistent behaviour by FGW

Status
Not open for further replies.

FenMan

Member
Joined
13 Oct 2011
Messages
994
Yesterday I was travelling from Blackwater to Twyford via Reading and had an unpleasant experience at the Excess Fares window, platform side of the barriers, at Reading station.

Some background:-
- Blackwater is a Penalty Fares station with signs clearly stating this.
- There used to be a ticket machine on each platform, but the machine on the Reading platform was removed following persistent vandalism.
- The remaining TM, on the Guildford platform, does not take cash and is frequently out of order. For a long time this machine had a faulty card reader and also the touchscreen fails when it has been raining as it is not adequately shielded from the elements.
- AFAIK, all other Penalty Fares stations on this route have ticket buying opportunities on both platforms, apart from Farnborough North where, due to the layout, nearly all travellers have to go past the TM before accessing either platform.
- Those familiar with the layout at Blackwater will know that, for travellers approaching the station from the town side who want to go to Reading, it is not a trivial matter to go round to the Guildford platform on the off chance that the remaining TM is working.
- FGW guards know there are issues with purchasing tickets at Blackwater and all happily sell tickets on board. Some come through the train specifically asking "Any tickets required from Blackwater?". It has long been established practice for Reading-bound passengers joining at Blackwater to buy tickets on the train.

On to yesterday.

- Joined the 11:02 train at Blackwater with around 20 others. The service was full and standing as it originated at Gatwick.
- There was no sign of the guard during the journey to Reading, which is unusual.
- As I had plenty of time to make the connection to Twyford I went to buy a ticket at the excess fares window.
- During the purchase I was approached by a FGW employee who flashed his RPI badge and asked why I hadn't already purchased a ticket.
- I explained that, for the reasons stated above, this was my first reasonable opportunity to purchase a ticket.
- He disputed this, saying I should have purchased a ticket at Blackwater. When I pointed out this was unreasonable due to the lack of an accessible TM on the Reading platform, he changed tack and said I should have gone to the back of the train and knocked on the door to obtain a ticket from the guard. I asked him if he was sure about that. He said he was sure - this was stated in the NRCoC he said. I thought it pointless to argue with that assertion and pointed out that I wasn't trying to evade the fare, otherwise why had I gone to the Excess Fares window to buy a ticket?
- His attitude was aggressive and he was speaking loudly, seemingly to create a "scene".
- Meanwhile, a queue was building up behind me and he switched his attention to the next two people in line, asking where they had come from. When they both said "Blackwater" he muttered something under his breath, terminated the interview and wandered off.
- I then finished buying the ticket.

So, there is a disconnect between the behaviour of guards on this route and that of this particular RPI. Obviously the problem would be resolved if a new TM is installed on the Reading platform at Blackwater, however, assuming this isn't going to happen anytime soon, what is the best way to ensure that all FGW staff have a consistent and pragmatic approach to passengers travelling to Reading from Blackwater?
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

yorkie

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
6 Jun 2005
Messages
52,812
Location
Yorkshire
....he changed tack and said I should have gone to the back of the train and knocked on the door to obtain a ticket from the guard. I asked him if he was sure about that. He said he was sure - this was stated in the NRCoC he said. I thought it pointless to argue with that assertion and pointed out that I wasn't trying to evade the fare, otherwise why had I gone to the Excess Fares window to buy a ticket?...

This simply isn't true. Feel free to PM me if you'd like me to proof read a letter of complaint to FGW. I hope you got the name of the RPI. Treat it as a training issue and put the onus on FGW to provide adequate training to their RPIs. I'd also ask the question (rather than state it is incorrect).

- His attitude was aggressive and he was speaking loudly, seemingly to create a "scene".
- Meanwhile, a queue was building up behind me and he switched his attention to the next two people in line, asking where they had come from. When they both said "Blackwater" he muttered something under his breath, terminated the interview and wandered off.
- I then finished buying the ticket.?
Yep, some of them are like that. However I'd avoid mentioning this in your letter, and keep it about the facts rather than the RPIs behaviour.

I'd have considered asking them if they'd be witnesses to the RPIs behaviour (after the RPI had walked off).
 

BrownE

Member
Joined
9 Apr 2012
Messages
184
Unfortunately, I have found Reading Station staff particularly bad for this. I came off a train, went to excess fares and was also told about how I was eligible for a penalty fare. Obviously, I wasn't eligible for a penalty fare, the woman wasn't an authorised collector anyway she was trying to "scare me" as far as I could tell with incorrect fact.

A complaint went to FGW. They agreed it was wrong and told me they would speak to the station manager about it. The exact (relevant) wording was:
I'll make sure the colleagues on duty that day are spoken to and reminded that this kind of attitude just isn't acceptable.

I travelled from RDW, similar situation, turned up with the exact change for a ticket and they refused to believe I travelled from RDW, despite telling them the platform number the train came off and the time it left. I was asked for "evidence of where I travelled from". I was threatened with "I'll call the BTP if you didn't tell me where you came from" and told "it's a criminal offence".

Complaint to FGW, response said all about how fare evasion is terrible and that staff need to sell the correct ticket otherwise we loose millions.

Summary, excess fares at Reading are often (not always) poorly run. In relation to your case OP, you are correct (as is Yorkie).
 
Last edited:

calc7

Established Member
Joined
8 Aug 2011
Messages
2,097
I too have experience provocative and assuming questioning at the Reading excess fares window - two summers ago now.

I had just got off a HST from Paddington and was intending to catch the next XC Voyager to York, which was in about 15 minutes' time. I presented my railcard and asked for a Leamington Spa to York SVR for immediate travel.

Needless to say, a keen RPI nearby overheard and came across and started on me with a very accusatory attitude, thinking I was trying to use it to travel via London. It wasn't until I showed him the Super Off-Peak Return (via Banbury) that I was in the middle of travelling on did he back off and mutter something about "young people trying it on".

(Reason for the extremely long route, which actually saw me go via Manchester due to engineering works in the Derby area overrunning was due to cheap ticket already held plus wanting to return to Leamington after visiting friends)
 

Captain Chaos

Member
Joined
31 Jan 2011
Messages
807
The reason for such provocative questioning is because asking for tickets from RDW,TLH,TWY,EAR and WKM when they haven't come from there is endemic.

Case in point from a few weekends ago:

Working a stopper from Redhill to Reading. Barrier staff were working later than usual and I was aware of this. Large groups board at Sandhurst and Crowthorne. ALL refused to buy tickets off me because a large section told everyone not to as the barriers would be open and they will be able to walk out without paying. One even cheekily said I should be thanking them for making my job easier!

Made a phone call to confirm that the RPI's and that were still there. They were. Some were even manning the lifts which was just as well as when we pulled in a few ran for the lifts and the others started requesting Groupsave Singles from Earley and Wokingham.

Sadly for them all I had already pre-empted this and had phoned ahead warning them that they would probably be doing this and that only 4 had boarded at WKM (they had tickets, I'd already checked them). The group using the lift got caught and MG11'd by a group of RPI's and the others got refused any and all discounts and had to buy from where they got on.

The groups response? We'll just get away with it next weekend.

This is perhaps an extreme scenario, but it happens nonetheless and this evasion happens constantly at Reading. At one point we were asking for proof of residence before selling tickets from Reading West at one point, that's how bad it was getting.

I do have sympathy for our Genuine travellers though.
 

adc82140

Established Member
Joined
10 May 2008
Messages
1,813
I get this a lot travelling from Twyford to Reading- I live near Twyford. I go shopping in Reading. With my Gold Card discount it's cheaper to go by train into Reading than pay to park the car in the town centre. But I'm sick of being accused of fare dodging by the barrier staff, as quite often the barriers are programmed to reject Twyford tickets.

I'm always very polite to the barrier staff, but quite frankly I'm getting sick of being accused of swinging it. It may surprise FGW that some people really do travel the short hop from Twyford. If FGW can't get their house in order with regard to revenue protection, that's hardly my problem.

Back to the OP, surely at any unstaffed penalty fares station, if the TVM only takes cards, surely you're entitled to pay cash to the guard or excess window and still get discounts etc??
 

island

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Dec 2010
Messages
11,823
Location
0036
Some staff will make the argument that you should use a card if you have one.
 

Captain Chaos

Member
Joined
31 Jan 2011
Messages
807
In the 7 years of working at Reading station I have never heard of them rejecting a ticket because they are from Twyford. They are however quite often programmed to reject child tickets. Especially during major events such as Reading Festival.

I shall have a word with the barrier staff as I have never heard of being able to program barriers to reject tickets from a certain location (unless someone else can confirm of course!)
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Good luck proving I had sufficient funds to pay.

Code 10 call?
 

Failed Unit

Established Member
Joined
26 Jan 2009
Messages
7,585
Location
Central Belt
I think they had at Edinburgh before as part of a "Sting". The RPI at South Gyle stamped the ticket so it was to see if passengers had just ordered ticket from South Gyle but say collected it from the TVM at another station to exit the barriers. If your ticket didn't have a stamp they would as where you other ticket to get to South Gyle was. Not sure however what would happen if you had thrown away the 1st ticket. I tend to keep all splits now until I have completed the journey just in case.
 

richw

Established Member
Joined
10 Jun 2010
Messages
10,033
Location
Liskeard
Good luck proving I had sufficient funds to pay.

I'm a prime example of this, I had £150 cash in my wallet yesterday, but only £1.06 available in my bank for which i have a debit card for. In an attempt to save money, I transfer all money to my savings except a small amount each week to live off otherwise i spend money i cant afford to!
 

BrownE

Member
Joined
9 Apr 2012
Messages
184
Code 10 call?

You would have to take my card without consent for that. I only have to provide my name and address, not a debit/credit card on request! :)

A code 10 will not give you the balance anyway or tell you anything about the actual account. You only answer yes/no questions.
 

bignosemac

On Moderation
Joined
12 Oct 2009
Messages
4,981
Some staff will make the argument that you should use a card if you have one.

Code 10 call?

Symptomatic of the attitude of some rail staff is that.

The industry fails to provide adequate ticket purchasing facilities yet will still heap suspicion and onus on the passenger. With, in this case, a misguided belief that staff can somehow find out whether a passenger has sufficient funds on a card by making a 'code 10' call. You won't win any friends with your merchant services provider by making a code 10 call for that reason. Code 10 is to be used only when there is suspicion about the cardholders legitimacy to use the card. It is not to be used for a general balance enquiry or some sort of authorisation. And like BrownE, I too would not even be handing over a card when I travelled from a station that had 'card only' TVM facilities and I'd wanted to pay cash. Dare ask me for one and I'll be sticking to the minimum information I'm obliged by railway law to give.

If a ticket vending machine is card only and I want to pay cash then it is totally irrelevant whether I have a card with sufficient funds. I wish to pay cash and shouldn't be given the third degree at a gateline, excess window or by an RPI when the industry has failed to provide facilities for me to buy a ticket.

And no, I shouldn't have to go looking for a guard or delay my journey at an interchange station.
 
Last edited:

Tracky

Member
Joined
18 Jul 2011
Messages
483
We asked if we could refuse to accept cards for small fares or put in place a lower limit to stop stupid timewasting card sales. The answer was as a railway ticket agent we were forced to allow all methods of payment to be used for all rail tickets. Fairly clear I would say to look at the flip side of forcing people to use cards.

I am not keen on Card Only TVMs been used as a 'solution' to railway ticketing.
 

sheff1

Established Member
Joined
24 Dec 2009
Messages
4,931
Location
Sheffield
I travelled from RDW, similar situation, turned up with the exact change for a ticket and they refused to believe I travelled from RDW, despite telling them the platform number the train came off and the time it left. I was asked for "evidence of where I travelled from". I was threatened with "I'll call the BTP if you didn't tell me where you came from" and told "it's a criminal offence".

At one point we were asking for proof of residence before selling tickets from Reading West at one point, that's how bad it was getting.

So not only is it a criminal offence to travel from Reading West, if you do somehow surmount that barrier, you can only purchase a ticket if you are a local resident and can prove the same. I would say 'unbelievable' but I know that on UK Rail it is totally believable.

I assume you can tell us under what legislation non-residents can be prevented from travelling from, or purchasing tickets from, an unstaffed station.
 
Last edited:

bignosemac

On Moderation
Joined
12 Oct 2009
Messages
4,981
At one point we were asking for proof of residence before selling tickets from Reading West at one point, that's how bad it was getting.

Bonkers, Absolutely bonkers. And under what authority were you requiring proof of residence before selling tickets from RDW?

Hammer to crack a nut. I don't doubt that revenue protection isn't always easy and particular locations are problematic, but to ask for proof of residence is totally wrong.

What happens when Joe Bloggs has really travelled from Reading West but lives in Anytown, UK? PF him? Get him to prove his journey under pain of prosecution?

800 years of natural justice and common law. Innocent until proved guilty. But not on the UK's rail network. :roll:
 

BrownE

Member
Joined
9 Apr 2012
Messages
184
Bonkers, Absolutely bonkers. And under what authority were you requiring proof of residence before selling tickets from RDW?

No doubt it (in FGWs minds) constitutes "attempting to breach any of these Byelaws" which means they can ask for your name and address.
 

Failed Unit

Established Member
Joined
26 Jan 2009
Messages
7,585
Location
Central Belt
So not only is it a criminal offence to travel from Reading West, if you do somehow surmount that barrier, you can only purchase a ticket if you are a local resident and can prove the same. I would say 'unbelievable' but I know that on UK Rail it is totally believable.

I assume you can tell us under what legislation non-residents can be prevented from travelling from, or purchasing tickets from, an unstaffed station.

Yep, if I ever need to travel from Reading west that would be instant death to me as I give a Scottish address, unless of course I get the hotel / person I am staying with to take a photo of me leaving thier premises.
 

RJ

Established Member
Joined
25 Jun 2005
Messages
7,697
Location
Rail replacement bus cab
Code 10 call?

I had an EMT guard trying to force me to hand over a card once, as she had decided that the tickets I held were not valid and was adamant on charging me for a new ticket. I hadn't budgeted for a new ticket so I didn't see why I had to hand over anything. I told her I had a card with no money on it and her response was "well hand it over and if that is true, it will decline." She persisted for a good few minutes so I ended up handing over a prepaid debit card which had no credit left on it.

No offence, but revenue protection really need to be two steps ahead of passengers if they want to do their job properly. When I was working in revenue protection, I didn't let anyone run rings around me :p
 

LexyBoy

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
23 Jan 2009
Messages
4,472
Location
North of the rivers
Needing proof of address to sell a ticket from Reading West? That is indeed bonkers and unjustifiable. What would you do if the passenger had no proof of address on them - and who does anyway (unless driving licences have your address on?).

Reading West has ticket machines from what I remember (and confirmed by NRE, although it also claims it has a Gatwick-bound platform...), so unless the passenger has a verifiable reason for not having used it (i.e. not fully functioning) then it should be Penalty Fare time.

Back on the topic of fare evasion by using the lifts, having observed the comings and goings there recently, when an RPI was present at the top (I was watching the works on P4/5/6 BTW, not just being nosey), a few things made me wonder whether there's much point in doing this except in the situation described by Captain Chaos, where a guard can testify that no-one boarded at X station:
- Girl comes up stairs from main concourse, goes to lift - asked "can I see your ticket?" "err... I haven't got one" "where are you going..." *sells ticket*
- Woman with pushchair emerges from lift - "ticket please" "oh, er I was just seeing my mother off" "OK then, off you go". (BTW, I have also used the lift to go from the bridge to the concourse and been let through the barriers without question after explaining).
- Bunch of hoodied yoof on tiny bikes emerge... "tickets please" *tickets handed over and all in order*

Made me think that surely unless the guard or CCTV can confirm that the person had travelled, then they would have to be let through wouldn't they? IIRC there's no requirement to hold a platform ticket (and they seem to be a pain to get hold of anyway).
 

calc7

Established Member
Joined
8 Aug 2011
Messages
2,097
They don't.

The new ones do certainly, it's passports that don't.

That's by-the-by anyway - where does it state in the CoC that customers of the railway are expected to carry proof of address when they travel?!
 

Flamingo

Established Member
Joined
26 Apr 2010
Messages
6,810
The new ones do certainly, it's passports that don't.

That's by-the-by anyway - where does it state in the CoC that customers of the railway are expected to carry proof of address when they travel?!

Nowhere, but it does state they should buy a ticket before travelling if facilities are available. Reading West has a TVM, if it is working (it usually is) passengers are expected to use it.

If the option is try and meet the customer half-way, and if they can prove they came from Reading West do them a ticket from there, or just say "Ok, no ticket, PF or court, your choice?" which is better?
 

Wolfie

Established Member
Joined
17 Aug 2010
Messages
2,923
So not only is it a criminal offence to travel from Reading West, if you do somehow surmount that barrier, you can only purchase a ticket if you are a local resident and can prove the same. I would say 'unbelievable' but I know that on UK Rail it is totally believable.

I assume you can tell us under what legislation non-residents can be prevented from travelling from, or purchasing tickets from, an unstaffed station.

Indeed. I am also intregued about how it complies with obligations over ticket selling!
 

Flamingo

Established Member
Joined
26 Apr 2010
Messages
6,810
Made me think that surely unless the guard or CCTV can confirm that the person had travelled, then they would have to be let through wouldn't they? IIRC there's no requirement to hold a platform ticket (and they seem to be a pain to get hold of anyway).

Or we just refuse to let anybody without a ticket into the platform area, if seeing off aged granny or not, leading to threads and Daily Wail stories of "Jobsworth ticket barrier staff wouldn't let me see my mum onto the train" etc.
 

LexyBoy

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
23 Jan 2009
Messages
4,472
Location
North of the rivers
If the option is try and meet the customer half-way, and if they can prove they came from Reading West do them a ticket from there, or just say "Ok, no ticket, PF or court, your choice?" which is better?

Seeing as the title of the thread is about "inconsistent behaviour", I'd say that the correct fare for the journey - £20 - be charged in all cases (after checking that the TVM was working etc etc).
 

BrownE

Member
Joined
9 Apr 2012
Messages
184
"Ok, no ticket, PF or court, your choice?" which is better?

Funny you should say that, I've found that telling the inspector the TVM isn't working (fully) and then asking for a ticket doesn't work. They ask for proof of where I have travelled from and I respond with "prove I didn't travel from RDW" or words to that effect. It works every time. [N.B. I do travel from RDW and always pay in cash (The TVM doesn't accept cash, there is no PERTIS)]

I am in the habit of taking a photo of myself against something that clearly recognises the station as Reading West, although I won't show that photo to staff when they demand evidence as a matter of principal. If they wish to take me to court, it will probably be very expensive for FGW.

Following the advice of a "Customer Relations Senior Officer", I record all of the conversations with the Inspector anyway.

if it is working (it usually is)
There are actually two, but that's a good joke. It takes days for the machines to be reset after a drop of rain sends it haywire. The machines only accept cards. Clearly "fully functional" :roll:
 

WelshBluebird

Established Member
Joined
14 Jan 2010
Messages
3,778
At one point we were asking for proof of residence before selling tickets from Reading West at one point, that's how bad it was getting.

And on what grounds is that allowed?
You do not need to live anywhere near a station to get a ticket from there (that doesn't need to be said really does it).
To ask a passenger for proof of residence is quite frankly disgusting behaviour.
I certainly know what my reaction would have been (and to be honest it would have probably got me chucked off the train anyway!!).
Fair enough trying to establish what station a person has boarded at, but proof of residence has nothing at all to do with that!

ps - this isn't an attack on you, or any other staff (well, maybe an attack on the person who decided that it would be a good idea to do it), but an attack on that particular policy / rule, so please don't take it personally :)
 
Last edited:

Bill Badger

Member
Joined
28 Nov 2008
Messages
269
I really don't understand why FGW are allowed to run a penalty fare scheme from unmanned stations that have TVMs which don't accept cash.

I understand that FGW have decided to disable the cash function on their TVM due to security issues. Fair enough, that's a commercial decision that has presumably been made giving careful consideration to the revenue implications, but you can't then penalise passengers for not having a ticket, when they hold cash and are willing to pay.

Certainly when travelling from Farnborough North I won't buy a ticket costing just a couple of pounds using a card. I will wait until the guards comes through the train (which they invariably do) and sell a full range of tickets with discounts etc.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top