LNER season ticket including Thameslink cross London?

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by sc597, 6 Mar 2019.

  1. sc597

    sc597 Member

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    Well fair enough, however I have just been told at Peterborough ticket office, contradicting what KGX told me 40 mins ago, that it will "not be an issue at any station in the Gold Card area" to recode and print my ticket as a Gold Card, and the only reason they don't do so at Peterborough is that they don't keep the right coloured paper in stock. Is it any wonder that punters get a bit fed up trying to buy an honest ticket?!
     
  2. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Well exactly. And then when you get told that ticket office staff of the same retailer as originally issued the ticket, within the Gold Card area, "can't do it" but that isn't being a jobsworth... Well, the term jobsworth may not technically be the correct but it is certainly the common verbage for such actions, which seem to be unique, in terms of their frequency of occurring, to the dear old rail industry.
     
  3. Wallsendmag

    Wallsendmag Established Member

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    For someone who is so fond of quoting the rules to the letter why are you so keen for LNER to ignore this one?
     
  4. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    But this is an argument over nothing. A simple encode exchange will result in the ticket being issued on Gold Card ticket stock.

    Honestly some people on this forum will argue about anything.
     
  5. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    It is about passengers' rights and providing a standard of customer service that might be recognised in any other normal industry as good or even "acceptable". The companies already have more than enough rights as it is. There is no loss to LNER if they provide the passenger with a Gold Card where they're not entitled to one as per "the rules", but failing to do so purely as a matter of principle is a great way to really, really p*** off people who aren't bound to take the train and who have an alternative to it.

    Of course the rail industry doesn't have to fight for a quite a lot of its commuter revenue, it can do what it likes and a lot people will still come and buy seasons, because there is no viable alternative for them.

    I think that post perfectly demonstrates the anti-customer attitude that pervades a lot of the rail industry (at least at the decision making side of things). "It's the rules, therefore it's correct". No consideration whatsoever for the fact that the rules might be poorly thought out, and that a gesture that costs the company very little or even nothing will generate a lot of goodwill.
     
  6. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    I would ordinarily agree but it's not clear whether the OP will be able to obtain an encode exchange so easily, without making needless journeys that could be entirely avoided were it not for the pig-headedness of some of the rail industry's policies.
     
  7. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    I agree very much. Of course, I'm unusually well informed, but I would not have even considered offering the LNER booking office at Peterborough my business for this sale, for the specific reason that I would have guessed they'd choose not to stock gold cards there. I would always advise against it for anyone wanting a Peterborough to London annual season.
     
  8. Wallsendmag

    Wallsendmag Established Member

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    If you’d used our website you’d have a Gold Card and some nectar points to boot.

    Ps I give up there are better ways to pass the time.
     
  9. andythebrave

    andythebrave Member

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    If it says that to get one you have to purchase it within the gold card area then buy it within the gold card area. It is not complicated.
     
  10. Silver Cobra

    Silver Cobra Member

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    Interestingly, neither LNER or VTWC accept Gold Card-discounted tickets, but both accept Network Railcard-discounted tickets. The only differences between the Gold Card and Network Railcard are:
    • The area of validity for the Gold Card reaches as far as Birmingham whereas the Network Railcard only reaches as far as Northampton (for the ECML, both only reach as far as Huntingdon)
    • The weekday minimum fare of £13 for the Network Railcard
    • The weekday starting time of the validity of the tickets (0930 for the Gold Card and 1000 for the Network Railcard).
    I guess VTWC don't want people to be using Gold Card-discounted tickets to travel from Euston to Birmingham on their services, so the simple option to ensure this is to not accept Gold Card-discounted tickets at all. In the case of LNER, I don't know if they originally accepted Gold Card-discounted tickets before becoming VTEC or if it has always been the policy to not accept them (as in, if Virgin changed the policy when they took over to bring it in line with VTWC or if all predecessors didn't accept them either).
     
    Last edited: 11 Mar 2019
  11. alistairlees

    alistairlees Member

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    First of all, the rules are quite clear about where Gold Card season tickets can be obtained from. No-one has broken any rules here.

    I imagine the rules were set as such when:
    1. There was a lot less commuting from outside the Gold Card area into it
    2. Season tickets were only ever purchased from stations, and only ever provided on CCST stock
    3. There was a perceived need to manage the varieties of physical ticket stock located at stations, and the training associated with it.

    Things are changing now though:
    - seasons are more commonly than ever bought online
    - some seasons at least are available as mobile tickets, rather than CCST tickets; and many are available as smartcard tickets
    - people are commuting from ever further away (i.e. more people from outside the Gold Card area)

    So this certainly seems like a timely opportunity to review the rules. If, for example, Gold Card stock is to be kept at Peterborough, where else should it also be kept? Newark Northgate (probably)? Sleaford (probably not)? Everywhere (I suggest not)? And what should the rules be: "You'll be issued with a Gold Card season ticket if you buy at most stations and your journey involves going to a station in the Gold Card area"? Forum members will be frothing at the mouth because somewhere like Skipton ends up not being covered, despite only (and I'm guessing here) selling a season ticket that is eligible for a Gold Card once or twice a month.

    Essentially, when you have benefits that are geographical, then you are always going to be boundary problems. The only way to solve this is to extend the benefit nationally, or to remove it entirely. Be careful what you wish for.
     
  12. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    That is the contractual position, but it is absolutely not the customer service position.
     
  13. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Or they could just make it much simpler by either making the whole Gold Card scheme a national thing (which might, with some alterations to the conditions of its eligibility, use or discount, become revenue neutral or even positive), or by having a public (contractual) policy that you can obtain the encode exchange any station within the Gold Card area - i.e. you are only stuck with the non-Gold Card stock season ticket for your first journey into your Gold Card eligible destination.

    Of course, both those things - even the latter, which would appear to be an eminently simple change to action - seem to be beyond the wit of the rail industry.
     
  14. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    Yet the post above yours says that a Gold Card can be bought on the LNER website. So, if the OP did so whilst in, say, Inverness that would apparently be fine.
     
  15. sc597

    sc597 Member

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    Yep I had planned to purchase online (even registered on the TransPennine website!) but for various reasons just left it too late and simply didn't realise it would be a problem buying at PBO, otherwise I would have bought the GC half of it at the London end. Definitely my bad on the original issue, but my frustration is the inconsistency even within LNER ticket staff where I have been told three different things thus far, and will probably get different excuses tomorrow! I think ForTheLoveOf's suggestion of making it a national scheme makes the most sense, there doesn't really appear to be any logical reason for it being restricted to the south east only - presumably a Network SouthEast throwback.
     
  16. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    I think they would need to pay for postage. Otherwise however, yes. I've bought an expensive season from the TransPennine Express website before which offered some. Nectar points worth more than the £6 postage charge.
     
  17. island

    island Established Member

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    VTEC (as was) accepted them on London to Stevenage (the only pair of stations it serves both within the Gold Card area) until January 2016, when the Gold Card area was extended.
     
  18. superjohn

    superjohn Member

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    Would it be easier to drop Gold Card stock altogether and simply print „Gold Card Season“ on eligible tickets issued on standard stock. This could be programmed into the ticket definition and would avoid ‚wrong stock‘ incidents.

    Making it a national scheme would effectively create a national railcard (any suggestions as to what would be the cheapest suitable annual season?) . While I could see that being popular with passengers I can’t see TOC‘s going for the idea.
     
  19. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    As long as the minimum price of the season ticket was high enough, I don't see why it couldn't work. Say, £500 a year minimum. Most peoples' season tickets will cost more than that, but it is sufficiently expensive that very few people will buy it as a kind of National Railcard if they aren't already a season ticket holder, and if someone does pony up £500 a year then that is 'free' revenue anyway!
     
  20. kieron

    kieron Established Member

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    I suppose one other thing you can do is to go to Kings Cross and ask to swap your Arlesey-London Thameslink season ticket for an Arlesey-Blackfriars one (or to London Bridge or Elephant & Castle if you prefer). They may not be able to work this out there and then, but the replacement ticket should be issued on Gold Card stock once they do.

    It would be better if customers had a right to have tickets reprinted in your situation, but we are where we are.
     
  21. sc597

    sc597 Member

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    So here's how the sorry saga worked out (with a happy ending):

    1. Original purchase - my mistake - knew PBoro was outside GC, but wrongly assumed LNER ticket office there could print gold cards for seasons within the zone. Was told I could exchange ticket within zone.
    2. Went to King's Cross ticket office same day - [sniff and look of condescension] "no, there's nothing we can do"
    3. Went to Peterborough ticket office again same day - "yes, any ticket office in the gold card area can reprint for you"
    4. Went to King's Cross ticket office next day - "no, there's nothing we can do"
    5. Contacted LNER customer services - "yes, any national rail ticket office in the gold card area will do this"
    6. Went to a non-LNER national rail ticket office in the area - "no, I would do it for you but you didn't buy it from us so I can't help, sorry. Here's a blank Gold Card ticket to take to Peterborough though"!
    7. Went to King's Cross ticket office - "I don't know, will have to check with manager". Manager - "No, I've just received an email telling us specifically not to do exactly what you want to do".. what a coincidence... "Customer services are in the wrong"
    8. Left, rejoined the back of the same queue at the King's Cross office - "yes, sure, I'll do that for you right now"! Somehow resisted temptation to go back to other staff and manager to do a victory dance.

    I have to say this and a couple of other similar experiences have left me with an fairly low opinion of several of the staff at the King's Cross ticket office. I will be writing to LNER to express my views, not that I suppose it will achieve much. Thanks to everyone on this thread for your help and advice.

    By the way, only had the split tickets checked once on the trains into London so far - inspector was curious but didn't object - she asked me if I minded whether she could take a photo of the "unusual" combination - I said sure, then she left me to enjoy the overheated comforts of a bumpy East Coast ride into town :)
     
  22. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Ah, if she took a photo then it may be that she is intending to report it as an "anomaly". This may mean it gets more expensive next year, unfortunately :(

    I agree that a complaint to LNER is in order. It is utterly unacceptable for ticket office staff, including the manager, to say that Customer Services are wrong, and for you to have such a different experience with one ticket office clerk as compared to another. If they don't address your complaint adequately (which, I would like to hope, would include assurances that staff will be correctly trained and briefed, and a suitable amount of compensation for your wasted time), this is certainly the kind of case that might warrant taking to the Rail Ombudsman. But luckily we have some contacts within LNER, so hopefully it will not be necessary to take it that far to reach a satisfactory outcome.
     
  23. sc597

    sc597 Member

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    Presumably unless they can get 14.2 taken out of the Conditions of Travel or encourage Great Northern to up their fares (hmmm, not much encouragement needed there!), there's not a lot that can be done to prevent this? Or could they get an LNER exemption written in somewhere? I guess not, or all the TOCs would be at it!
     
  24. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    I can't think of exactly what they might want to do here, as both fares will be regulated fares that can't simply be increased in price by more than the price cap (RPI currently), and it isn't permitted to change the route of a regulated fare to be operator specific, but it might simply be used as "evidence" of why Condition 14.2 "needs to be abolished".
     
  25. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    Looks like this is where the rail industry becomes responsible for this. Presumably, if you hadn't been told it'd be easily exchangeable, you could have asked for it to be refunded immediately and bought it at Kings Cross instead (though you'd obviously have had to have a ticket for that journey).
     

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