Is it fair that Advance tickets have no value when the train is missed?

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Max, 9 May 2011.

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  1. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I don't understand the point you are making. And learning a lesson cannot prevent someone being held up in a delay that was not of their making.

    Does anyone think £223 is fair in the example I gave? As no-one has attempted to justify such a charge I will assume not :) So are we all agreed that the current system is unfair, but the disagreements are over how to implement it? Of course agreeing an alternative that suits all will not be easy, and I suspect the status quo will remain, with most cases like that resulting in leniency, and those that don't will provide ammunition for the media against the TOCs.

    I do like kwvr45's idea that the ticket should have some value for up to 1 hour after departure. If such a scheme is not adopted then I would like to see the expensive APs scrapped, and I would also like to see all TOCs forced to have the same policy as Virgin with half-price SVRs available on all applicable trains. All Advance fares should be capped at a decent amount less than the appropriate walk-on price for that leg.
     
  2. Zoe

    Zoe Established Member

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    Do TOCs sell advance fares in preference to walk-on fares even if the price difference is minimal?
     
  3. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I would say especially if the price difference is minimal (from a revenue point of view) however the closer the fares are, then the more they need to be careful to apply discretion otherwise customers could get very disgruntled at having to pay almost twice the fare as someone buying on board.
     
  4. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    Just to play devils advocate, Yorkie, the T&C are that when the time on the ticket is passed, the ticket is useless except in certain circumstances. That information is available, and anybody buying that ticket is aware (or signs to say they are aware of) the T&C.

    If they want flexibility, then they should buy a flexible ticket. If the flexible ticket is not much more, then they should buy it first off.

    The biggest offenders in cases where there is not much difference between advance and flexible tickets are firms who buy them for employees, and I usually tell them to take it up with the agents / pa/ office secretary, and tell them next time to pay the extra £5 or whatever. Often they will have bought an Advance for a peak-time train, and the passenger will be on a cheaper off-peak train.
     
  5. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    . . . and they PROMOTE the Advance fares quite vigourously, so that folks now have it drummed into them from the press, billboards, sides of buses etc that a 300 mile journey on EC is £15 (or whatever it is whereever you are), so that if they do find they are asked to pay for an Anytime in addition, then they can be quite truly shocked at the price!

    (We are straying slightly from the topic, but I'm as responsible as anyone else for that!).
    I would repeat my reply to Zoe, above, and add that the vigour with which Advance prices are promoted to the public at large (without the Large Writing in Red Ink and Red Hand pointing to it to quote Lord Denning on 'smallprint') does leave the ordinary person with the impression that the lowest tier of Advance prices are THE price.
    I would take some persuasion to be assured that the limitations of Advance prices are adequately advised, and perhaps more to the point, I am nowhere near convinced that the ordinary person exposed several times a day to ads for £15 or so long distance fares has any clue what the cost would be of travelling on the earlier or later service.
     
    Last edited: 13 May 2011
  6. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    You could make an advance ticket valid for up to 1 or 2 hours, with a flat-rate surcharge of £10 or £20 perhaps. Thus, the ticket isn't totally useless but you do pay more, so it doesn't make it worthwhile just buying the cheapest advance ticket and then travelling whenever you want.

    I am sure ATOC could come up with something that strikes a balance. Yes, in some cases you might just find it worthwhile getting an advance and knowing you'll pay the extra surcharge to travel when you want (within the fairly limited window) but most of the time you won't want to pay more as you got the advance ticket to save money, not play the system.

    Alternatively, why not have offer an advance with an optional 'insurance' option for say £1.50 or £2 on top, to allow you to travel on a later train (I'd personally not offer an earlier one).

    This would then be marked on the ticket, and net the TOC a nice bit of voluntary extra revenue that nobody would moan about. In fact, it would make it even easier to punish those with a 'normal' ticket as they'd have implicitly turned down the insurance, and could not possibly say they didn't know about the strict rules.

    Bear in mind, I am suggesting something that would require ATOC to change the system. Until it changes, I would expect the T&Cs to be enforced and for people to understand what is clearly marked on the ticket regarding when you can travel. Any discretion would be based purely on explaining circumstances that caused a delay, and thus no excuse would be valid for travelling early (as that WOULD be open to abuse). Airport train tickets excepted, which are effectively offering the above insurance idea within the price.
     
  7. Zoe

    Zoe Established Member

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    If you start allowing flexibility with advance fares though the TOC will lose revenue and the fares would have to be a bit more expensive. The reason the fares are as cheap as they are is that there is no flexibility.
     
  8. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Well, yes, the OP in that topic should have, in fact I gave him advice (that I wouldn't publish on the forum as it's a loophole. A valid loophole, but not one I'd want to publicise) via private message to get a return for less than the Advance single (let alone the cost he ended up paying to get to Euston, then the excess and admin fee), so anyone who says the £223 is fair is effectively punishing him for choosing not to take advantage of a (valid) loophole. Hopefully the OP will see sense and use the valid loopholes on walk-up tickets next time - I know I would!

    Still, no-one has actually stated £223 is fair in that scenario so I'll assume we're all agreed it isn't ;):lol:
     
  9. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Which I am perfectly happy with (my point on that issue was that I believe some residual value to an unused Advance towards its replacement Anytime would not be unreasonable, and, despite the protestions of others, would NOT disrupt yield management, and would NOT become so attractive 'that everyone would buy Advances').

    But I have to repeat, the degree to which the restrictions, or more to the point, the cost of varying them, is adequately advertised doesn't help passenger or TOC on this subject. To try to be even clearer about this, there is a disproportionate offer to the passenger between the ease in just jumping on the train before or after their booked service costing the widely advertised £15or£20, and the unnannounced and poorly advertised additional cost of replacing their Advance with an Anytime; in my case its 30mins either side and a whopping £143 for that variation to a £40 ticket.
     
  10. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    What is all this about fair or unfair. Life isn't fair. Getting caught speeding isn't fair, Man Citeh getting taken over by a rich sheik isn't fair, me not being born into a rich family isn't fair.
    You buy the cheap ticket knowing the Ts and Cs. If you don't like them then don't buy the ticket. If you can't trust yourself to get to the station in time to catch the train via suicidal people on the tube or missing buses or road accidents then don't buy the ticket.
    Yes things go wrong and if the railway is at fault you will be OK. If it isn't then why should the railway be held responsible.
    Some people just want the cheap tickets but want flexibility. Sorry you can't have both

    All the above is my own personal opinion !! One formed by listening to too many crazy excuses as to why a particular train can't be caught. And selling AP tickets to people who blatantly have no intention of catching that train but blagging it on another
     
  11. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Which is true but DaveNewcastle, myself and others aren't asking for the cheap tickets to have more flexibility we are simply asking that if we miss a train (for whatever reason) then why not allow the passenger to excess that advance up to the appropriate anytime ticket for their journey.

    I don't think any of us are arguing that passengers should just be able to use advances like any other ticket, we simply don't see why there shouldn't be the option of getting an excess?
     
  12. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    If you don't want to take part in a debate regarding whether it's fair or not, no-one is forcing you to...
    If you are speeding then of course it is fair.


    And I don't see how £97 compared to the on board price of £116 is "cheap"
     
  13. Zoe

    Zoe Established Member

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    Shouldn't the real question here be why these TOCs are offering advance fares at minimul difference to the walk-on fare?
     
  14. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    OK cheaper. Better ?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    But once again I point to the fact that you know the Ts and Cs before you buy the ticket. If you don't want to comply with them then don't buy the ticket
     
  15. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Is it not disproportionate though for a fare only marginally cheaper to be so drastically more restrictive?

    And I challenge you to say the £223 fare (for a journey where the on board single is £116) is fair, would you honestly be happy paying that? Do you not think people would avoid travelling by rail again if they were charged that?

    You can't duck the fair question by dismissing it; as that is the entire point of this topic (and the title makes it very clear! ;))
     
  16. trainophile

    trainophile Established Member

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    That would depend on every train having a ticket inspector/vendor who patrols the length of the train between every stop. Very labour intensive to avoid abuse and chance-taking. Why wouldn't I buy the £13 10.30 AP ticket when I'd actually rather travel on the 11.15 but that only has £23 tickets available?
     
  17. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    The customer in my £97 example did want to comply with them. Do you not think it was fair to charge him an additional £29, so he was paying £126? Someone who simply boarded the train having paid nothing would be asked for £116. So £126 seems fair.
     
  18. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    And how is that different from the situation we have today? I'm sure plenty of people abuse advances by chancing it, how is offering people an option of excessing their ticket going to make the present situation any worse?
     
  19. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    Why do so many people apparently believe this line ?
     
  20. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    OK let's say the 1030 is £13 AP, the 115 is £23 AP and the SOS costs £40. The risk with allowing people to upgrade on board with taking the cheaper £13 ticket is that you end up paying a total of £50 (original fare £13 + £10 admin fee + £27 excess), surely that is enough of an incentive?! There's no need to disregard the ticket completely, although in a £13 example the only credit you would get once the admin fee is paid is £3. So in your example we're haggling over £3. But in my £97 example the difference is far greater.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    In this example it's only £3 difference!
     
  21. SS4

    SS4 Established Member

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    Minimal is 1p difference (because money is in discrete 1p quanta). In the example you quoted there is a £19 difference which I would hardly call minimal.

    It is up the individual to ask for the correct fare, if an advance seems high then ask how much the walk-up is before purchasing. The £223 is unfair but it's not wrong and the customer should have been well aware of this when purchasing the advance tickets
     
  22. Zoe

    Zoe Established Member

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    It's quite simple. How do you think the TOCs would be able to afford to offer these fares if they were flexible.
     
  23. SS4

    SS4 Established Member

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    Why shouldn't they?
     
  24. Zoe

    Zoe Established Member

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    If the fare is over 100 then £19 is less than 20% of the fare. £19 isn't going to make much difference to some of the very expensive fares. You say the onus is on the customer to ask before they purchase the ticket but how many people would know all the different fares?
     
  25. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    Because it isn't true.
     
  26. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    But they aren't made well aware of it!

    And if Virgin had read this forum we were warning long before they appeared on Watchdog that they were at risk of appearing on such programmes. Virgin should have been well aware of it before engaging in such practices, thus getting them well deserved bad publicity! However there is evidence of common sense because in my example the person was excessed and not charged the ludicrous sum of £223. So Virgin do actually seem to recognise that the rules are indeed unfair now.

    They know they can choose to charge it and be 'correct' but they also know that to do so risks yet more stories about them in the media. And they'd deserve them! So I hope they won't be taking that risk, but it's up to them!
     
  27. Zoe

    Zoe Established Member

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    So explain how the TOCs could afford to offer flexible tickets at advance fare prices then. The simple answer is they can't
     
  28. trainophile

    trainophile Established Member

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    Yep I get it now (I think). I must have missed the bit about the Admin fee.

    It's all starting to get rather confusing lol. Think I'd better re-read this thread from the beginning tomorrow.
     
  29. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I wouldn't call an AP fare "flexible" but you earlier said they offered "no flexibility" when we discussed the possibility of changing them, in fact they can be changed, subject to a £10 admin fee before departure. So clearly there is some "flexibility" there. The issue is what happens after departure. kwvr45 is a guard and he has seen anything from genuine excuses to people lying, and has come up with some excellent ideas, and no-one has yet given a robust reason why his ideas would not be viable, in my opinion.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Also see this thread (posts #22 to #24 inclusive) the person who sold him the excess might even be on this forum (or, if not, will know someone who is). If they are I invite them to PM me so I can thank them for applying common sense! :) (plus I'd be interested to know if this is official policy or to what extent they are allowed to discretion)
     
  30. SS4

    SS4 Established Member

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    Indeed it is but £19 is still £19 whether it's the difference between £97 and £116, £2 and £21 or £31452 and £31471 (I hope fares never get that high!)

    I can understand that someone would be more willing to pay for a walk up because the extra £19 represents less than a 20% difference in price.

    What I'm trying to say is that if you know you're going to get that train, be willing to be bound by it's T&Cs and get there in good time then why not save the £19 and spend it elsewhere? If not, get the walk up. IMO it's up the potential customer to decide whether to buy the advance and save £19 sacrificing flexibility, buy the walk up and get flexibility at the cost of £19 or decide not to travel at all and not the TOCs responsibility to knock down the price based solely on the reason it's too close
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    If it isn't true it should be easy to explain why it's not true.

    My apologies, I thought it was common knowledge (perhaps it's just the good folks on this forum being so wise ;) ) but after a cursory check of Virgin's website it doesn't clearly state than an anytime single must be bought in the case of getting the wrong train.
     
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