Northern refusing Overnight Break of Journey on SVR (RTN)

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by robbeech, 5 Dec 2018.

  1. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    I come today with yet another incident involving Northern and poor training of staff.

    Following on in the very similar style to THIS recent thread i have had issues today with a number of Northern staff who are unfamiliar with the rules of the humble SVR. This to me is one of the very basic fundamental sets of ticketing rules and it is of great concern that what at least appears to be a significant number of staff at Northern from all departments are unaware of these basic rules.

    Ticket held :
    Hebden Bridge to York Off peak Return (SVR) dated 4/12/18.
    Restriction : TP

    Ticket type :
    M-Ticket, Trainline iOS app (latest version)

    Journey times are timetabled not actual.

    Outward Journey :
    Harrogate 1506 to Knaresborough 1515
    Knaresborough 1615 to York 1646


    Return Journey :
    4/12/18 York 2211 to Harrogate 2244
    **Overnight stay in Harrogate**
    5/12/18 Harrogate 1115 to Leeds 1153
    **Onwards connections not relevant**

    The incorrect advice :
    Whilst your return portion IS valid for a month, once you start it you have to complete it that same day. No overnight break of journey is permitted on the Return portion of an SVR ticket.

    Further reading :
    On trying to continue my journey today at Harrogate i was denied entry to the platforms at the Ticket office side (Platform 1) Gateline by 'Member of Gateline staff A' who quoted that my grey ticket was used. I politely explained that it was an Off Peak Return and was valid until 3rd January but he and his colleague 'Member of Gateline Staff B' still refused to accept this. After a second explanation that there are no restrictions on Break of Journey on these tickets he decided to walk with me to the ticket office to get a third, fourth and fifth opinion. Up to this point it had been disappointing that these two were clearly lacking the training that they should have had to do the job they are trying to do but what has unfolded since has led me to believe that this issue is several orders of magnitude more serious than even i initially expected. Ticket office staff at Harrogate are unaware of what the different types of ticket are. None of them could directly answer the question and had to look up the rules for an SVR which got us no further. Eventually 'Member of ticket office staff A' Said to 'Member of gateline staff A' you had better let him through as none of us are really sure.
    By the time i go to the platform over the footbridge the doors were closing and i received a patronising finger point and head shake from the guard on the 1115 as it left. By the time i got back to the gateline on Platform 1 the station supervisor had returned and we had a chat. This chap appears to know some rules about tickets which leaves him in a good position working in a railway station. He apologised and mentioned that he would see that the station staff were updated on the rules. A thoroughly nice chap with a good attitude and good knowledge and a credit to the company. He also mentioned that if i wanted to make a complaint (and recommended i did i could contact the social media team and they'd pass it on or give me a contact number).
    Now i'm one to let people know when people are doing a good job and when they're falling short of what is expected of them so i contacted their social media team by way of DM as they call it and provided a somewhat lengthy explanation of my concerns going on to explain that this appears to be a regular thing with staff being unaware of the rules. Thinking i would either get a stock apology or be passed on to someone else i awaited the reply. When the reply came i was somewhat lost for words. At that point i immediately decided that this needs to be taken immediately to the highest level of complaint within and outside the company. 'Social Media Staff A' Confirmed that once i had started my journey i had to complete it that day and it was not valid for overnight break of journey.
    Imagine my delight in finding out that from the group of staff spoken to today, ALL but 1 of them are following this incorrect rule.

    Company/Network wide concerns :
    So, gateline staff, ticket office staff, (guards on other occasions) Social Media Staff, are all going on the exact same advice as eachother. Now, is this just a coincidence that each of these people have individually made up the same lie or is it more likely that this lie is coming from somewhere else entirely and the company are teaching these incorrect rules to all of their staff. I cannot say one way or another but i will let everyone who reads this form their own opinions on this matter. The fact is, that the MAJORITY of passengers in my position today would have purchased a new ticket where this was un-necessary. They would not have complained, and even if they did and did so by social media they would have been told the same information by twitter, they would not have applied for a refund on the original, and even if they did, if it was a mobile ticket from Trainline then they would have refused as you CANNOT get a refund on an activated ticket under any circumstances (also wrong) and "The railway" would profit greatly from this. This IS happening, likely on a daily basis, it is NOT limited to Northern, as we see in the thread linked to above, Virgin Trains in that instance have wrongly charged for a new ticket.

    My beliefs :
    I believe that a person or multiple people involved in training is making up rules and telling people this and it is spreading like a rash throughout the company. I do NOT believe that it is being done DELIBERATELY for financial gain, however there is clear evidence that this DOES provide financial gain on some occasions.

    Conclusion :
    What a shame for the staff that are friendly and pleasant and helpful. What a shame even for those staff that haven't got the faintest idea of what they rules really are but have never received the correct training. What a shame for the same staff that have to put up with passengers who are disgruntled due to poor service and the ongoing industrial action. What a shame for the staff (i'll let you judge the percentage) who DO have the knowledge who are fighting a losing battle.


    I expect there will be a nice range of replies from those who agree at least in part to those that reiterate their views that since the dawn of the railway no member of staff has put a foot wrong to everything in between. What i WOULD like to achieve is an improvement in knowledge for staff at Northern (and anywhere else) and that is far more important than any refund or compensation. If anyone else has (preferably recently) had this SPECIFIC issue whereby you have been denied your right to break your journey overnight on the return portion of an SVR (or similar) ticket i'd love to hear from you. I'd also be interested to hear from staff who have been taught this rule, or indeed still believe that it is true despite the NRCOT saying otherwise.
     
    Last edited: 5 Dec 2018
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  3. Silverdale

    Silverdale Member

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    It is of course irrelevant that you were using an m-ticket as opposed to a paper ticket, but is it the case that the displayed state of your m-ticket changed during the overnight break of journey?

    Is the poor understanding of the staff you encountered about the validity of the return portion of an SVR generally, or is is specifically about the validity of an m-ticket which indicates that it is 'used' versus one which is merely 'activated'?
     
  4. Clip

    Clip On Moderation

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    I dont think anyone has ever had this view on this forum.

    Its still a shame that people get the baaics wrong but training can be lacking and once people have passed their probation period at work it can be hard to remove them.

    more surprised at their twitter team who have the tools to find out about this stuff in front of them - though how you needed to do a lengthy DM (direct message) to them may have confused them. A simple ' i had this ticket which has this validity but the staff were not aware of he validity' wouldve sufficed
     
  5. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    Ok, a good point that i was going to mention initially but didn't.

    So, for clarification for anyone who hasn't had the (dis)pleasure of using m-tickets. These may vary by app, but i was using the Trainline App on iOS.
    When you activate a ticket it displays 2 pages of data for that portion. A ticket with writing on it giving you SOME information, and a barcode to be scanned by barriers and hand held devices. The ticket page with the writing has an animated clock that changes colour and moves to show that it is not just a screen shot. A good idea.
    Whilst the problem described doesn't appear to cause major issue on the outbound portion as most people will complete the whole journey on the same day, on the return portion what happens overnight is the ticket becomes GREY, and the clock and animation stops, and the word USED appears on it. Trainline have recently said to me that it is still valid and "should be apparent to staff" as i will be at a station between the two marked on the ticket. I appreciate that this is open to abuse but as a general rule i agree with them and understand what they are saying. After the period of validity expires the ticket becomes "expired" and you can no longer display it or the barcode. The change to grey PROBABLY happens at 0429, it was certainly still orange at around 0015 which would be the other potential (and incorrect) cutoff point.

    To answer the question above.
    The staff specifically say that you cannot break your journey overnight on the return portion, the ticket media is not relevant here. Infact, "Ticket office staff B and C" and "Social Media Team A" state this rule and none of them had seen the phone or were aware that the ticket was grey, It's even possible that "Ticket office staff B and C" didn't even know it was an M-ticket at all, though i did state it to social media.
    HOWEVER, i DO agree that the fact that the ticket was GREY likely caused the barrier staff to look more carefully at the ticket which then brought them to deny access and quote these made up lies. I'm fairly confident (but cannot guarantee) that had the ticket still been orange and animated that i would have been let through the barriers, but this would have been due to the barrier staff not thoroughly checking tickets properly*. This would have been a positive result for me but NOT for the countless other passengers that are wrongly charged for new tickets. In a strange way i'm glad that this issue has come about as directly as it has.


    *I'm not complaining/arguing in both directions here, i just want people to do the job they're paid to do to the best of their ability.
     
  6. mmh

    mmh Member

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    I agree with the staff. Overnight break of journey used to be very clearly only permitted when it's impossible to complete the journey on the same day, which isn't the case at 22:11 from York to Leeds.
     
  7. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    My bold.

    I don't remember whether break of journey restrictions used to specifically say that or not and quite frankly i couldn't care less if they used to say you got a free banana with every ticket you bought. The simple fact is the rules NOW are very clear on when and where and how often you can break your journey and unlike a lot of wording i don't see how it can be disputed in any way.

    Whats also worth a quick mention is that the last journey opportunity from York to Hebden Bridge is the 2152.

    Thanks for your thoughts though, its genuinely appreciated to get differing views as i'm really interested to know how wide spread this issue is. Are you rail staff yourself and if so is this the rule that you would apply to this situation?(you obviously don't have to answer that if you don't want)
     
  8. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    This is completely wrong for several reasons.

    1) The last journey opportunity departs 2152; so departing at 2211 there is no way to avoid an overnight break of journey
    2) This was the return journey, so the ticket is valid for a month
    3) Even if it was the outward portion, and even if the customer was departing York at or before 2152, the customer is still entitled to break their journey overnight (for example B&Bs may not want people checking in too late); it is the customers choice.

    See this post, which I can vouch for being about as reputable and authoritative a source as you can get:
     
    Last edited: 5 Dec 2018
  9. 185

    185 Established Member

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    This is more likely the shoddy retail training passed to staff at Northern. Doesn't help matters app designers putting single day use validity coding into the app.
     
  10. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    The app doesn’t help and I will be contacting them to offer advice on this but several people have suggested this journey is not valid without this app issue.
     
  11. Silverdale

    Silverdale Member

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    And what do we mere punters do when a TOC politely disagrees? Forward the post and say @yorkie can vouch for it being from a reputable and authoritative source?

    It shouldn't be difficult for RDG to publish the BoJ conditions which attach to an SVR. Is it too simplistic to suggest that simply doing that would remove all scope for incorrect interpretation and guesswork?
     
  12. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Only on the outward. On the return, unlimited breaks are and always were allowed entirely at passenger discretion.
     
  13. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    NRCOT 16.2 says where break of journey is allowed etc.......

    Break of journey is allowed on an SVR unless is explicitly prohibits it.

    Therefore this is allowed. It’s not a huge amount of steps to get to the answer. I am all for making things easier to understand though as you rightly suggest.
     
  14. Silverdale

    Silverdale Member

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    NRCoT still leaves plenty of room for interpretation. Enough, evidently, that the Northern staff you encountered believed that you could not break your return journey overnight at Harrogate.

    The way BoJ on the outward portion of an SVR is limited, as described in #6, is neither described or referred to in NRCoT, nor the NRE site's description of the terms and conditions which apply to Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak tickets. The industry is happy to say BoJ is allowed, but is protecting the actual conditions as if they were their secret recipe for fried chicken. Why? Who does this benefit?

    Oh, I see you have already answered that question.
     
  15. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    You'd be lucky if it was polite in my experience, but that aside, you have two options
    1) argue with them; ask them to tell you what conditions make it invalid; ask them to look at what the ticket conditions actually say.
    2) pay it and claim it back later

    RDG have published the BOJ conditions for SVRs:
    http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/ticketterms/show?ticketTypeCode=SVR
    It could be a little clearer, e.g. it should not begin with "A" , and of course the return portion should be unconditional, but it's clear enough to see that the customer was entitled to do what they did on the return portion and would have also been entitled to do so on the outward portion.

    Anyone with brains larger than a grape should realise it's valid.
    I don't understand why the outward portion is being brought into it, as the customer was on the return portion, but anyone reading the ticket conditions on the NRE website can see it's valid.

    NRE's wording is never going to be brilliant and they are never going to be Crystal Mark accredited, but it's clear enough. Besides, if anyone thought it was unclear, the customer must be allowed to travel under consumer law.
     
    Last edited: 5 Dec 2018
  16. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    Northern social media team have been very good today and have corrected their view and openly apologised. The issue is wider than social media (infact it started elsewhere) so there’s still work for them to do but it’s a positive sign.
     
  17. bkhtele

    bkhtele Member

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    I think trainline need to change their "used" ticket so that they can be scanned & when valid accepted. Currently the industry seem to be taking the view if it cannot be scanned it is not valid which clearly is not the case. Stating it is used is not helpful & discourages staff discretion. Scanning has the advantage that the industry can track usage & misuse.
     
  18. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Indeed. I would see nothing wrong with the ticket saying "Activated". But "used" is plain wrong - unless the ticket has already been scanned in such a way as it can conclusively no longer be valid, for example by having exited the last possible station gateline where it is valid for use (e.g. a ticket to Manchester Stations from the south should not be marked as used unless and until the passenger exits at Manchester Victoria).
     
  19. Silverdale

    Silverdale Member

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    That's interesting. It's obviously a page within nationalrail.co.uk, but it's not the page I recalled.

    When I have searched for terms and conditions, either using the search function within nationalrail, or web searching using search engines, the page I get it this:

    http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/ticket_types/46590.aspx

    It's a different page with different content, which doesn't clarify the conditions under which a break of journey is allowed on the outward portion of an SVR.

    If it was just that there were two different versions of the conditions on the nationalrail.co.uk site, it would be puzzling enough. But even more puzzling is that despite searching, I have not managed to access the page which @yorkie has linked to, other than by following his link.

    Maybe @yorkie has some inside knowledge. How would the ordinary customer like me find the (correct?) information?

    Back on topic. Whichever version of the conditions you look at, the conditions for BoJ on the return journey are indeed clear enough.

    Good.
     
  20. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    It’s worth noting that neither portion of the ticket were ‘scanned’ at any point. They don’t work the barriers at Harrogate, a visual inspection was made en route to York. There are no barriers at York. Again a visual inspection between York and Harrogate and a visual inspection to get through the barrier at Harrogate.

    Also just to mention again that I agree the way the tickets are displayed could improved BUT staff are suggesting this absurd rule without even considering the ticket media.
     
  21. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    That page is either linked to, or its content copied, whenever the conditions for tickets are linked to on online booking engines etc.
     
  22. Silverdale

    Silverdale Member

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    Thanks. That does explain why the page exists.

    It doesn't explain why someone who is not using an online booking site is given different information.
     
  23. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    A good start.

    Lets hope that everyone on the social media team (not just a subset) is now clear of the correct position and that Northern will now spread this knowledge across all their staff/contractors who are involved in the selling and inspection of tickets.
     
  24. talldave

    talldave Established Member

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    But then a fraudster simply has to purchase a ticket to one station beyond where they're actually going and they'll never complete the journey and can re-use the ticket for as long as it's single use was meant to be valid.
     
  25. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    This is why it’s important to implement the scanning of the barcodes to shownat what point on whatbday the ticket has been read.

    In the case where there is no guard and no barriers at your destination then you are no different to how you’d be if you had a paper ticket.
     
  26. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Exactly the same issue exists with paper tickets - simply replace "scan" in the case of an e-ticket, with "mark"/"stamp" in the case of a paper ticket!
     
  27. bkhtele

    bkhtele Member

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    If you google - national rail guide to tickets leaflet. You get a pdf of a rather simple leaflet outlining ticket types including off peak tickets. Not perfect but useful in most cases. A hard copy is also available from stations.
     
  28. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    I shall place a copy on my phone. I do of course have the NRCoT on there but anything is useful.
     
  29. Wallsendmag

    Wallsendmag Established Member

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    I'm fairly sure our instructions state that the ticket may be greyed out but it is still valid for a month.
     
  30. Wallsendmag

    Wallsendmag Established Member

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    No because the scan record has a scan location, barcoded tickets are much better than CCST in this respect.
     
  31. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    Never known any issues with this type of situation with your lot, though I haven’t used many m-tickets in those services.
     

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