My daughter fined for no ticket - help?!

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ConfusedLol

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Hi everyone, hope someone can advise me!

A couple of months ago my 14 year old daughter bought a return ticket for our local train service (Merseyrail).
The outward part of the journey went to plan and then when coming back she was unable to find her return ticket for the journey, she had lost it from her pocket during the day sometime.

She was asked for her ticket by an inspector, could not find it, issued a fine and gave her correct details.
I wanted to challenge the fine so I waited until receiving the letter from them regarding it. From memory the letter, when I received it said I had 21 days to respond, but due to me being away I never received the letter until day 22/23 after they had sent it. Typical lol.

I emailed them and stated my daughters case, they said the fine had now doubled from £20 to £40 as I hadn’t replied in 21 days!

I called them and emailed again to request they reset the fine to the original amount of £20, I explained I had been away and not received the letter until I returned. At this point I did not want the fine escalating more and more, and I had given up trying to reason with them to get the fine squashed. I received no reply to my request to reset the fine back to £20.

Then last week I received a letter, from their solicitors ( Daniels Silverman) stating the fine was now over £80 and to avoid further action to pay now?!

The letter was sent to my first name (spelt incorrectly) then “parent of xxxxx xxxxx (my daughters name)”.

My question is - what do I do? My daughter is 14, had genuinely bought a ticket. She paid cash but has no proof now she bought the ticket in the first place!
Merseyrail are doubling the fine when they see fit.
Is this a “fine” or just an “invoice”.... obviously this is a civil matter.
What will happen if I ignore it? Or should I respond to it?

Im really confused and don’t know what to do for the best. Any help help greatly appreciated here!!
 
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Bletchleyite

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Best advice is to pay it. That will make it go away. If you don't it is likely to end up in Court and cost much more because the railway has the leverage of the law being behind it. The Byelaw offence is simply about not producing a ticket when requested, it doesn't matter if you had actually paid.

Just shows how much things have changed. When I was young (admittedly much younger than 14, probably about 10-12 or so) I was on Merseyrail and lost my ticket, and was charged a new single (a matter of pence), my Mum wrote and complained about them picking on kids and they refunded it! So I can see how it feels unfair, but things have changed and if not paid it will only get worse.
 

SteveM70

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My advice would be to pay up, then contact their customer services to explain the situation, sequence of events, and explain your mitigation for not paying when it was £20. They may refund the difference
 

30907

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island

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A penalty fare notice is itself notice requiring the payment of £20, and the notice contains information on how to appeal. You do not need to (and should not) wait for a letter.

However, as a minor, your daughter cannot be sued for a debt, and it would be most unusual for her to be prosecuted. It is up to you what to do with this information.
 

Titfield

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Just as an aside - hopefully useful for others reading this for advice - I used to work for an organisation where a specified amount of time was given for response / actions by a person in "default". We did not take action immediately on the expiry of the time period given but would allow an extra 2 or 3 days. Self evidently this may not be the case with other other organisations.

However as has been suggested I would always make contact and offer to pay the original amount even if you are 1 or 2 days beyond the stated deadline. If this was rejected I would pay the higher amount sought. This at the very least stops the clock on further costs / penalties being applied. You can then "discuss" your case with the organisation and hope that they may refund the difference between the original amount sought and the amount subsequently paid.
 

WesternLancer

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My advice would be to pay up, then contact their customer services to explain the situation, sequence of events, and explain your mitigation for not paying when it was £20. They may refund the difference
I agree with this - but as Merseytravel (not Merseyrail) is public body with local accountability structures - see the Combined Authority and Transport Committee sectiosn of this webpage

you could enlist your MP or local Councillor to press your case ref the point about customer services. I would be expecting to pay the £20 but you should ask for them to 'reset the clock' given the delay ref the correspondence and refund the difference - but pay the sum demanded now to stop that clock and then enter dialogue about it afterwards with a view to getting the difference refunded.

Assuming you live in one of the council areas listed on that page you will have a ward councillor you can speak to, and they can then approach the councillor who is one of that council's nominees to Merseytravel (probably nominated by other Councillors in a vote of the council so they have that accountability channel) - might be easier to simply raise it with your MP however, and ask them to help - eg write pretty much what you said in your OP (emphasizing your point about contacting them but getting no reply which in my view is poor service) and ask eg "I accept that the £20 penalty is due after my daughter unfortunately lost her return ticket, but I do think that it is unfair that the sum asked for has rapidly escalated to £X and I would like to enlist your help in obtaining a refund of the difference"

It might not work but may be worth a try as you have nothing else to lose by asking them to help.
 

Fawkes Cat

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I agree with this - but as Merseytravel (not Merseyrail) is public body with local accountability structures - see the Combined Authority and Transport Committee sectiosn of this webpage

you could enlist your MP or local Councillor to press your case ref the point about customer services. I would be expecting to pay the £20 but you should ask for them to 'reset the clock' given the delay ref the correspondence and refund the difference - but pay the sum demanded now to stop that clock and then enter dialogue about it afterwards with a view to getting the difference refunded.

Assuming you live in one of the council areas listed on that page you will have a ward councillor you can speak to, and they can then approach the councillor who is one of that council's nominees to Merseytravel (probably nominated by other Councillors in a vote of the council so they have that accountability channel) - might be easier to simply raise it with your MP however, and ask them to help - eg write pretty much what you said in your OP (emphasizing your point about contacting them but getting no reply which in my view is poor service) and ask eg "I accept that the £20 penalty is due after my daughter unfortunately lost her return ticket, but I do think that it is unfair that the sum asked for has rapidly escalated to £X and I would like to enlist your help in obtaining a refund of the difference"

It might not work but may be worth a try as you have nothing else to lose by asking them to help.

I'm not convinced that this would be effective, in that the OP and their daughter are in dispute with Merseyrail. Certainly Merseyrail operate trains under contract from Merseytravel - but that means that issues like sorting out penalty fares fall in the first instance to Merseyrail. And in realistic terms, Merseyrail doesn't report to the councillors who sit on Merseytravel - it reports to the Merseytravel staff who in turn will report to the councillors. An entirely reasonable response from a councillor would be that this is an operational matter, not one of policy, so it should be dealt with by the operators (i.e. Merseyrail). A councillor with an eye to keeping their voters happy might choose to get involved - but that would be their choice rather than their duty.

As a parallel, it's like asking the Mayor of London to intervene in a ticketing dispute on the London Underground. You could do - but it's probably not the most effective way to go about things.
 

HSP 2

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Question to the OP what is your local station and where was your daughter traveling to?
 

skyhigh

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you could enlist your MP or local Councillor to press your case ref the point about customer services. I would be expecting to pay the £20 but you should ask for them to 'reset the clock' given the delay ref the correspondence and refund the difference - but pay the sum demanded now to stop that clock and then enter dialogue about it afterwards with a view to getting the difference refunded.

I'm not sure you'd get anywhere pushing the point on the delay in receiving the letter, given that this suggests the the letter was sent on time, and that the recipient was away meaning they read the letter too late.
From memory the letter, when I received it said I had 21 days to respond, but due to me being away I never received the letter until day 22/23

Also worth nothing that if it was a penalty fare that was issued, it would have had contact details and a reference to the appeals the process on it - so an argument that you wanted to appeal it but decided to wait until they contacted you probably wouldn't hold much water.

Ultimately the penalty fare was valid and they've incurred further costs in dealing with the admin of chasing up non-payment.

Personally I'd pay now then take it up with customer services in the hope of getting a partial refund.
 

WesternLancer

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I'm not convinced that this would be effective, in that the OP and their daughter are in dispute with Merseyrail. Certainly Merseyrail operate trains under contract from Merseytravel - but that means that issues like sorting out penalty fares fall in the first instance to Merseyrail. And in realistic terms, Merseyrail doesn't report to the councillors who sit on Merseytravel - it reports to the Merseytravel staff who in turn will report to the councillors. An entirely reasonable response from a councillor would be that this is an operational matter, not one of policy, so it should be dealt with by the operators (i.e. Merseyrail). A councillor with an eye to keeping their voters happy might choose to get involved - but that would be their choice rather than their duty.

As a parallel, it's like asking the Mayor of London to intervene in a ticketing dispute on the London Underground. You could do - but it's probably not the most effective way to go about things.
I agree, it's a long shot - I just see no harm in asking - the OP only has the other option of asking customer services the same thing really, as another post suggested, and my hunch was that going via an elected presentative might just work better - but it's a long shot I agree. It's this or customer services or both - but still a strong likelihood that the £80 now being demanded is not going to be returned.

Most Councillors / MPs will ask on behalf of a constituent since they like to hope that by 'sticking up' for a constituent they may get a vote in the fullness of time, but as you say - they may simply say it's operational matter and they can't help. But of course unless you ask you would never know. Also it is likely that it gets to a more senior decision maker than customer services requests do in my experience - for example where I work they have a dedicated unit to deal with MPs / Councillors queries where by the nature of these things more experienced staff work who are potentially accorded more discretion in resolving matters than the 1st line customer services advisors are allowed (precisely because the Cheif Exec does not want to be button holed by Cllr Blogs about Mrs X's complaint next time he bumps into him at a station refurbishment opening ceremony....). But all this only works if the case has some mitigating circs - it's up to the OP to stress those of course.
 

Bletchleyite

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Hang on...isn't the process for challenging a PF to pay it and receive a refund if successful, rather different to parking tickets where payment denotes acceptance of guilt?

This being the case, waiting for a letter was a bit of an error, the PF was already known about, surely? Or don't Merseyrail inspectors issue anything on the spot?
 

ConfusedLol

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Thanks for all the replies, really appreciate the advice.

I did email merseytravel requesting they reset it to the original amount of £20, I explained the reasons why - but they ignored my email.


Can someone clarify for me... realistically they can’t prosecute my daughter as she is 14?
And they can’t prosecute me as I wasn’t there at the time and it wasn’t me traveling on the train.

As they haven’t responded to me previously, what will happen if I just ignore all correspondence from now on (the same as they have done to me)?

Thanks everyone, appreciate your advice and time
 

221129

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did email merseytravel requesting they reset it to the original amount of £20, I explained the reasons why - but they ignored my email.
I'm not surprised as it has nothing to do with them at all.

realistically they can’t prosecute my daughter as she is 14?
They can. And with MerseyRail I wouldn't be that surprised as they are probably the most hardline operator. Although it is still unlikely.

the same as they have done to me)?
You say you contacted Mersey Travel which is a completely different organisation.

what will happen if I just ignore all correspondence from now
Maybe nothing, maybe something.
 

Fawkes Cat

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You say you contacted Mersey Travel which is a completely different organisation
On the basis of the original post, I think this is a typo; it was us giving advice, and not the OP, who brought Merseytravel (as opposed to Merseyrail) into it.
 

ConfusedLol

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So can they actually take a 14 year old to court? Is this possible for non payment of a fare?
Surely they can’t involve debt collectors either due to the age???
 

mikeg

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They can't, as has been mentioned pursue the debt (ie. involve debt collectors) due to the age, but the age of criminal responsibility is set at ten in England, therefore unless there's an exemption in a specific criminal law (there isn't in this case), a 14 year old can be prosecuted for any crime. Note that the trial process is different to protect the accused and sentencing much more lenient, but yes, she can be held responsible in the criminal sense.
 

WesternLancer

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As they haven’t responded to me previously, what will happen if I just ignore all correspondence from now on (the same as they have done to me)?

Thanks everyone, appreciate your advice and time
My hunch would be not to ignore the correspondence, as they can just keep escalating stuff I suspect - might only work in cases where false address and details had been given and they had to write it off, but your daughter was honest so she is traceable as it were.
 

Hadders

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I would pay what they are requesting to prevent the matter from escalating. Do bear in mind that railway ticketing matters are dealt with under criminal law, not civil law used in dealing with parking tickets etc.

It is unfortunate that your daughter lost her ticket but unfortunately, however unfair it seems, traveling without a ticket is an offence and if the matter reached court your daughter would be found guilty.

Once the matter is concluded I would write to customer services stating exactly what has happened asking if they would consider refunding the additional costs added to the original Penalty Fare of £20.
 

AlterEgo

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So can they actually take a 14 year old to court? Is this possible for non payment of a fare?
Surely they can’t involve debt collectors either due to the age???
They can take her to court (in theory - I am not sure if I have ever seen a child in court for such a minor issue). Taking her to court would be borderline abusive of them for such a petty offence.

They cannot involve debt collectors as she is a minor.
 

gray1404

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They can take her to court (in theory - I am not sure if I have ever seen a child in court for such a minor issue). Taking her to court would be borderline abusive of them for such a petty offence.

They cannot involve debt collectors as she is a minor.

I agree with this. The fact they are sending the correspondence to you makes me wonder if it is an attempt to get you to simply pay up.
 

Haywain

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I agree with this. The fact they are sending the correspondence to you makes me wonder if it is an attempt to get you to simply pay up.
Regardless of the methodology, the quickest way to make it go away is to pay up. And there can be no argument that a payment is due.
 

Vespa

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What you can do is pay up £20-£40 whichever the amount is, much cheaper now than further down the process.

It stops the clock.

Find a record or transaction number for the ticket brought if you can, it will help.

Raise a complaint with customer service.


Escalate to Railway Ombundsmen if you want to go that far.



What I do a lot is take photos of both tickets and receipt then put it in a specific folder in case of problems, at least I have an audit trail in case of any disputes.
 

Tazi Hupefi

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They can take her to court (in theory - I am not sure if I have ever seen a child in court for such a minor issue). Taking her to court would be borderline abusive of them for such a petty offence.

They cannot involve debt collectors as she is a minor.

It's clearly not legally abusive, in any way really.

1) The law deliberately permits youth prosecutions and has its own ecosystem and it being clear that the minor in this instance has likely committed an offence by boarding a train without a valid ticket;

2) If it gets as far as (Youth- criminal) court, let's not forget that clearly the parent(s) has had an opportunity to prevent it from getting there in the first place, on payment of (in the scheme of things) a relatively low amount.

It would possibly be "harsh" (but still not abusive) if Point 2 wasn't available to dispose of the matter.

There is no "abuse" and it's absurd to suggest otherwise.

It seems to me that Mersey Rail have taken steps to avoid court so far, and even if they are trying to arrange a financial settlement, the court and legal process would look favourably on that as them taking proportional steps, and will likely look unfavourably on the defendant should they refuse to come to a reasonable arrangement and subsequently appear in court with little choice other than to plead "guilty".
 

madjack

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Is there an argument that should this matter not be settled, the OP would be risking a more severe outcome in case her daughter were to lose her ticket again some time - even a few years - in the future?
 

AlterEgo

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It's clearly not legally abusive, in any way really.

1) The law deliberately permits youth prosecutions and has its own ecosystem and it being clear that the minor in this instance has likely committed an offence by boarding a train without a valid ticket;

2) If it gets as far as (Youth- criminal) court, let's not forget that clearly the parent(s) has had an opportunity to prevent it from getting there in the first place, on payment of (in the scheme of things) a relatively low amount.

It would possibly be "harsh" (but still not abusive) if Point 2 wasn't available to dispose of the matter.

There is no "abuse" and it's absurd to suggest otherwise.

It seems to me that Mersey Rail have taken steps to avoid court so far, and even if they are trying to arrange a financial settlement, the court and legal process would look favourably on that as them taking proportional steps, and will likely look unfavourably on the defendant should they refuse to come to a reasonable arrangement and subsequently appear in court with little choice other than to plead "guilty".
I wasn’t suggesting “legally abusive” but it is objectively an abusive thing to do to a fourteen year old for just about the lowest level of offence there is - a lost ticket. A piffling amount on a strict liability offence is a waste of everyone’s time and not in the public interest.
A vanishingly small chance of this one ending up in court. Anyone on this forum ever heard of a successful prosecution in this area of the site from someone who is under 16? Still, this is Merseyrail, who are the Judge Dredd of our railway system, so there’s a first time for everything.
 

philthetube

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They can take her to court (in theory - I am not sure if I have ever seen a child in court for such a minor issue). Taking her to court would be borderline abusive of them for such a petty offence.

They cannot involve debt collectors as she is a minor.
The courts can act to retrieve fines they impose.
 

AlterEgo

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The courts can act to retrieve fines they impose.
A youth court is not going to fine a 14 year old child for losing their ticket. Let’s keep the discussion within the bounds of reality. Happy to discuss the possibilities if anyone can show this has ever happened in the long history of this forum.
@island’s post is the most helpful one in the thread. I would be inclined to pop the correspondence from Merseyrail in the big round file in the corner of the room.
 

emersonamanda

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Hi everyone, hope someone can advise me!

A couple of months ago my 14 year old daughter bought a return ticket for our local train service (Merseyrail).
The outward part of the journey went to plan and then when coming back she was unable to find her return ticket for the journey, she had lost it from her pocket during the day sometime.

She was asked for her ticket by an inspector, could not find it, issued a fine and gave her correct details.
I wanted to challenge the fine so I waited until receiving the letter from them regarding it. From memory the letter, when I received it said I had 21 days to respond, but due to me being away I never received the letter until day 22/23 after they had sent it. Typical lol.

I emailed them and stated my daughters case, they said the fine had now doubled from £20 to £40 as I hadn’t replied in 21 days!

I called them and emailed again to request they reset the fine to the original amount of £20, I explained I had been away and not received the letter until I returned. At this point I did not want the fine escalating more and more, and I had given up trying to reason with them to get the fine squashed. I received no reply to my request to reset the fine back to £20.

Then last week I received a letter, from their solicitors ( Daniels Silverman) stating the fine was now over £80 and to avoid further action to pay now?!

The letter was sent to my first name (spelt incorrectly) then “parent of xxxxx xxxxx (my daughters name)”.

My question is - what do I do? My daughter is 14, had genuinely bought a ticket. She paid cash but has no proof now she bought the ticket in the first place!
Merseyrail are doubling the fine when they see fit.
Is this a “fine” or just an “invoice”.... obviously this is a civil matter.
What will happen if I ignore it? Or should I respond to it?

Im really confused and don’t know what to do for the best. Any help help greatly appreciated here!!
The best solution is to pay it up.
 
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