Letter received from Debt Recovery and Prosecutions Unit

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by linersi, 23 Aug 2015.

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  1. linersi

    linersi New Member

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    Hello all,

    I am a regular rail user as I commute everyday and I buy a monthly Metro RailCard for zones 1to5+6.

    On Monday 20th July, I realised my pass had expired on the 17th and was due for renewal. I went to the booking office at Shipley where there was a queue and I was running late so I hopped on the train, thinking that I would renew my monthly pass at Leeds, before continuing my journey further. I honestly didn't think this would be an issue.

    As I arrived, I made my way to the ticket booth and asked for a renewal but I was told that is not possible and to speak to another man standing near by.

    This gentleman asked me where I boarded the train and said he'll print me a ticket for which he won't charge me and handed me a form to fill in with my details. I asked what's happening and what's it about and he said they will contact me. At this point I was confused with the situation and his explanation so I refused and re-joined the queue in an attempt to buy a ticket.

    Another gentleman approached me and said I have traveled without a ticket from a manned station and he will have to take my details. I tried to explain myself that I wasn't trying to evade the fare and that I buy a pass every month, and just wanted to renew it but he didn't believe me.

    He took my details (in his notebook) and it seemed to me that he was reluctant to offer an explanation of what will happen further. He said I will receive a letter, but when I asked him when and what it will be about he said he doesn't know.

    I have now received a standard letter from Debt Recovery and Prosecutions Unit which asks me to reply with my version of events.

    I had already accepted I made a mistake the first time and I understand it would have been possible to be charged a penalty fare that can be paid on the spot but this option wasn't offered.

    I would very much like this matter to be settled out of court. Do you think that would be the case? Any advice on how to respond to the letter?

    Thanks for your help.
     
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  3. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    A penalty fare is not an automatic right, it's an option.

    You need to reply to the letter explaining why you did what you did, and apologising for your lack of knowledge about the requirement to purchase tickets before travelling, not at some random point during or after the journey. Offer to pay the fare due plus the costs incurred by the TOC in dealing with the incident.

    Keep your letter brief, be succinct and honest. You can enclose copies of previous season tickets if you have them, but remember to account for any gaps (eg holidays and sickness). Don't mention penalty fares, don't mention the effect a criminal conviction would have on you. You have a very good chance of settling this matter provided you haven't come to their attention for something similar previously.

    The member of staff is unlikely to know much about what will happen later. this is because the details they take will be passed to a decision maker who even decide not to take the matter any further in some cases. The same applies now to the reply that you send in now.
     
  4. Clip

    Clip On Moderation

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    Northern Rail don't take part in the Penalty Fare scheme so this is why you were not offered one.

    follow Greenbacks advice here and before you send your letter off, post it up on here so that members can revue it and help you further with it.
     
  5. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I thought perhaps the OP had meant the fixed penalty scheme that Northern brought in. :oops:
     
  6. thedbdiboy

    thedbdiboy Member

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    You mustn't call it that as they do not operate an authorised Penalty Fare scheme - what they have is effectively a streamlined out of court settlement process. Remember - if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a marine based web-footed avian creature...... ;)
     
  7. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I suspect that the difference is lost on the Op and the majority of the travelling public! :D
     
  8. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    How many people was the queue at Shipley ticket office, and for how many minutes were you in it?

    Were there any posters at Shipley that made you think it was ok to board the train and pay the guard?
     
  9. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    The OP has accepted they made a mistake and I get the distinct impression that they do not want to fight the case, they just want to get it settled if they can and deal with the matter as swiftly as possible.

    Even in the unlikely event that the answers to these questions can be considered as aiding the OP's defence, I'd hazard a guess that they don't want to become embroiled in a long process which could end up with a worse outcome for them than an administrative settlement.
     
  10. linersi

    linersi New Member

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    Thank you all for your timely replies.

    I thought of this as well. I've only started keeping them since the incident, so I have them for July, August and up to September. One thing to note is that the house no and postcode on my photocard are actually from my previous address, I imagine this wouldn't sit well with them?

    For previous months I only have the bank statements. Would these be any good?
     
  11. Quakkerillo

    Quakkerillo Member

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    Bank statements are proof of purchase of product, as provided by EU regulations as far as I'm aware. So yes, they'd have to accept it. Obviously, it'll help if it was a regular payment for the same price (if it didn't include additional tickets) that is also the price of the season ticket.
     
  12. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    Bank statements could well be useful. Season tickets kept since the incident in question would not provide any reassurance tot he TOC that you have previously been using them but you could ask them to check their season ticket holders records if you feel that will help you to settle the matter.

    Personally, though, I don't think that you need to provide any further proof of anything at this stage. If they are happy to accept your explanation, apology and offer of payment, then that should be the end of the matter. I'd only be looking at providing supporting evidence if they reject your attempts to settle and were planning on taking you to court instead. I don't think we've reached that stage yet, and I suspect it won't get that far anyway.
     
  13. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    I wonder if you might be at risk of confusing linersi with some procedure applicable to consumer retailing legislation and case law, where in fact (s)he is actually being investigated for a possible breach under Railway Law?

    The most obvious illustration might be the absolute lack of correspondence between a consumer's 'proof of purchase' and the Byelaw requirement to present a ticket when requested.
     
  14. island

    island Established Member

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    I agree with DaveNewcastle, and I fear Quakkerillo's post needs to be filed under "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" and not taken any further — not least as railway tickets are services rather than products.

    To linersi: the main problem here is that when you chose to join a train at Shipley without using the available ticketing facilities, you committed a criminal offence. Choosing not to arrive at the station in good time to buy a ticket before travelling is not a mitigating action. And even if Northern Rail issued penalty fares, which it does not, the issuance of one is at the discretion of the railway. You committed a further offence when you chose not to provide your name and address at the first request of an authorised officer. Each of these offences is punishable by a fine of up to £1,000.

    If you have not come to the attention of Northern Rail before for a ticketing problem, you will probably be issued an administrative penalty of £83.60 which, if paid promptly, will be an end of the matter.

    You will want to respond to the letter expressing regret for your actions and not attempting to make any accusations or cast any aspersions against the officers of Northern Rail, whose actions were completely appropriate, as the administrative penalty is also a matter for the discretion of Northern Rail.
     
  15. crehld

    crehld Established Member Associate Staff Senior Fares Advisor

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    Agreed. For completeness it is worth stating that as far as I can tell the provision that bank statements constitute proof of payment does not form any part of the aquis communautaire, and therefore has nothing to do with any EU regulation, directive or opinion.
     
  16. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I do think that previous season ticket usage is a bit of a side issue at this stage and I regret mentioning old season tickets at all. If the TOC needs convincing that this should not be a RoRA prosecution at some stage, then bank statements may help the OP. I don't think they will be of any help at the moment.
     
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