Passenger rights when following staff instructions

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by yorkie, 9 Sep 2019.

  1. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Here is just one example of this concerning phenomenon of staff refusing to allow passengers to travel, when passengers are complying with instructions given by railway staff.

    https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/uk-world-news/pensioners-thrown-train-160-miles-3297596
    Another key extract from the article is that they were advised by staff to travel on an LNER service, however the Guard still would not accept that they should be on an LNER train:
    During disruption, if a member of railway staff advises a customer to board (or assists a customer in boarding) an alternative train, then that customer's ticket is valid on that train.

    This applies even if, under normal circumstances, without any disruption the ticket would not be valid on that train.

    If a Guard believes that a member of railway staff has acted incorrectly in directing any passenger(s) to their train, then that is an internal rail industry matter; it is not a concern for customers and customers must not be charged.

    I am aware of a recent incident in which a TPE Guard refused to allow passengers to travel on their train on the basis that another member of staff - in their opinion - should not have directed them onto their train.

    An LNER spokesperson said:
    I can only reiterate to companies such as TPE, LNER and others who are guilty of wrongdoing, that the tickets legally valid if a member of staff directs a customer onto a train.

    If staff believe ticket acceptance is not in place and that other staff have acted incorrectly then this must be dealt with internally. It must NOT be dealt with by mistreating customers, by either charging them, chucking them off or any other method of mistreatment.

    I would like all TOCs to issue memos to their staff reminding them of this, and I'd like to see Transport Focus and other organisations following this through to ensure this is done.

    Sadly I do NOT have faith in LNER that the appropriate disciplinary procedures will be carried out, given their track record of NOT dealing with instances of incorrect actions by their Guards in other areas (which are well documented here, so I won't go into them again); I find this totally unacceptable.

    The vast majority of staff who check tickets do a great job and would never behave like this. So why do employers allow the small minority to bring the entire industry into disrepute like this? It's madness.

    LNER need to get a grip on the behaviour of a minority of their staff, as do other operators whose staff are found to be guilty of this, such as TPE.
     
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  3. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    If there is significant disruption affecting many passengers then the rail industry should make sure that staff are aware of ticket acceptance arrangements.

    If individual passengers are impacted, for example a missed connection, and the passenger chooses to consult staff for advice then the member of staff should endorse the ticket using the endorsement box.

    The endorsement box was specifically added to the design of tickets to cater for exactly this type of scenario but as with so much on the railway these days a well intentioned policy has simply not been implemented on the ground.
     
  4. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    This is why this kind of instruction should move to ALWAYS being in writing.
     
  5. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    You do need to consider practicalities, for example this won’t be possible during significant disruption but it could be done for individual issues.
     
  6. Aictos

    Aictos On Moderation

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    I disagree, if ticket acceptance is not in place then staff shouldn’t be telling people to board any service.

    Why I hear someone ask? Simple, it reduces conflict end of!
     
  7. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    That's if staff are prepared to do it. Sometimes you ask and they bluntly refuse.

    If I'm authorising travel it is with a station stamped note, time and initals and the station number without exception. It's common sense really given the scope for passengers to come unstuck during a journey.
     
    Last edited: 9 Sep 2019
  8. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Not always practicable.

    Although the Approved Code of Practice - Provision of Customer Information document stipulates what should happen when "disruptive incidents" occur and the resulting ticket acceptance details may be published on NRE, this is not considered to be applicable if a small number of trains are affected; it could just be one train. If this occurs, you could still have hundreds of people who are advised to take alternative trains but there may not be anything published about this.

    However if passengers are verbally advised to take an alternative service, this is still binding on the train companies, regardless of whether or not those passengers have a piece of paper and/or it's mentioned on a website.

    What concerns me is that some staff refuse to accept passengers who have been displaced onto their trains and take it out on customers instead of raising it as an internal railway industry matter.
     
  9. 158801

    158801 Member

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    As a guard I believe I diligently check tickets and be fair to all.

    However, I will not based on heresay allow someone to travel on my train with an invalid ticket because “someone on the platform said...”

    This may be against the law. I may be doing my job wrong. However, if I accept people to travel for “free” on my train every time such an incident takes place, I may as we’ll hand my resignation in now and just not bother.

    It’s all very well and good for armchair ticket inspectors on here to sprout what is right and what is wrong but I challenge them to work in the real world.

    Customer : “is this the train to Birmingham?”

    LNWR Staff “ yes it is”

    Then on board

    Virgin Staff “ your tickets not valid on here. It’s only valid by LNWR trains”

    Customer “ the man on the platform said it would be ok”

    Virgin staff “ ok mate. That’s ok then”.

    My thread on such a topic got locked. No doubt I will be branded many negative things because of my views.

    The railway industry needs to change. There needs to be a written confirmation if a member of staff authorises something that is not usually permitted.

    As for escalating it internally....try asking the customer who said what. What were they called, what did they look like, what was the colour of their uniform ?..

    Choose your weapon .
     
  10. Aictos

    Aictos On Moderation

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    Well said! On the other hand sometimes information about ticket acceptance doesn’t reach staff eg a few years ago VT were accepting CH tickets to London due to a failed freight train and the guard of the VT refused to acknowledge ticket acceptance was in place so had to get a docket countersigned from the ticket office staff on company paper authorising travel.
     
  11. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    Sometimes it's all about the question asked...
     
  12. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    If a member of staff is suspicious there is nothing to stop them looking up to see whether there was a delay or some other form of disruption.

    No-one wants people trying it on but the vast majority of passengers are honest and shouldn’t be penalised because of the rail industry’s failings.

    Where I work something we take into account when dealing with a situation is how brand damaging something could be. For example refusing a refund to a loyal customer on something worth couple of pounds could back fire spectacularly- save a couple of pounds but lose a customer, their friends and family for life. Such thinking doesn’t seem to apply on the railway.
     
  13. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    Excellent post.

    The whole setup can be a mess. On the one hand there are so many tickets with various forms of restriction, and of course the flip side of the coin is there are guards who seem to think they’re the proverbial it (albeit very much the minority).
     
  14. AngusH

    AngusH Member

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    Given that guards who reject passengers in these circumstances are presumably complying with instructions issued by their employer,
    have all staff been ordered that permission to travel (outside ticket validity and without further paperwork) must never be given until ticket acceptance has definitely been arranged?


    edit: revised to remove reference
     
    Last edited: 9 Sep 2019
  15. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    I disagree - in these incidents it is invariably an individual staff member advising a few individual passengers that can't be bothered to write an endorsement that takes 10 seconds to fill out - it's entirely practical.

    Having had this occur before, I have had cause to check up on what the passenger told me - I rang the individual they said they had spoken to knowing that they always endorse tickets correctly.

    The opposite occurred. They had told the individual to speak to the guard before boarding because they weren't happy with the circumstances, refused to endorse the ticket and thus denied the exchange that the passenger said had occurred had happened as described.

    In your opinion, should I allow my knowledge of years working alongside this individual and how they operate, confirmed by a phone call, be overridden because the passenger has made a statement that I'm apparently obliged to accept without question?

    As it happens for cancelled trains I take other company's passengers without question because I like to present a professional image that we are acting as a unified network, regardless of whether their control has bothered to seek acceptance or not (Northern are particularly rubbish in this regard) and I respect that people like station supervisors should be empowered to resolve service issues at their location regardless of the different companies in play.

    I do not however cater for individuals who say 'matey said it was OK' in the same way as I do for groups of people clearly affected by a *collective* issue.
     
  16. AngusH

    AngusH Member

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    I'm not sure I see the benefit of even bringing up the possibility of talking to the guard.

    Doesn't it move the trouble spot onto the train?
     
  17. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    A guard can allow travel on their train when the intending passenger has a ticket not normally valid (or even no ticket at all).
     
  18. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    I wish they'd tell them no and be done with it. I had a train the other day that was busy and I eventually went and told the gate line assistants to bugger off and do their job in person after I'd sent 4 people within 10 minutes packing with advances for later trains. However I accept that in some cases I can make a better judgement call with conditions on board etc.
     
  19. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    The rail industry is increasingly coming under scrutiny for potential breaches of the law in numerous areas; I think there needs to be an investigation into malpractice in this area, as it appears to be more widespread than I thought. What's really concerning is that some staff are acting in such a manner despite recognising that they may be breaking the law in doing so.

    It's very pleasing to hear that the passengers were given compensation by LNER; I would advise against acting in a manner that is not only contrary to the law and likely to bring your employer into disrepute but also likely to generate both disproportionate additional costs as well as bad reputation for your employer. Where is the logic in that?
     
  20. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    I don't think any customer who has legitimately experienced the following sequence of events will ever allow the matter to pass without complaining:
    • Booked train, train cancelled
    • Asked what to do, took next train on the advice of staff
    • Tickets rejected on next train; thrown off the train or forced to buy new ticket at full price
    So to my mind that alone would be sufficient reason not to get into conflict with a customer. By definition it will result in wasted time by office staff who are left to deal with the inevitable complaints of this course of action.

    Some customers might take it further if they are not compensated. The above circumstances are very plainly a breach of contract. It may be easier for the customer to recover their damages through the courts if they pay for a ticket than if they are chucked off, however.
     
  21. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    Sadly this happens a fair bit without passengers complaining to the TOC. They’ll perhaps moan about it to their friends but they frequently just accept it.
     
  22. Solent&Wessex

    Solent&Wessex Established Member

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    Now this is a genuine question as I don't know the answer, but irrespective of the rights and wrongs or otherwise of the various methods proposed in handling this ever increasing problem, which particular law would I be breaking if I did charge someone with a TOC Only ticket on the wrong TOC because I didn't accept their "the bloke on the platform said it was ok" explanation?
     
  23. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    It would be a breach of contract law (NRCoC Condition 6.1.2)
     
  24. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    But what if the bloke on the platform didn't actually say it was ok, but instead having been asked 'is this the next train to Manchester?' and answered 'yes, it is', or hadn't in fact existed at all...? Strikes me as a point that would be fairly tricky to prove in court :s
     
  25. Solent&Wessex

    Solent&Wessex Established Member

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    But does it actually say that?

    Firstly, 6.1.2 might be construed to indicate that it needs to be an authorised member of staff from the train company you intend to use - so it could be argued that an LNER member of staff cannot authorise someone with an XC Only ticket to use a TPE train, for example.

    In addition, the bit I have put in bold says that even if 6.1.2 applies, you still need to buy a valid ticket to travel as soon as possible.

    6.1.2 does not say you can TRAVEL without a valid ticket, just that you are allowed to BOARD THE TRAIN without a valid ticket and pay later.
     
  26. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Yes, and all too often solve the problem by buying a car as soon as they can afford to do so!
     
  27. Adam Williams

    Adam Williams Member

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    It's all well and good having an endorsement box on the back of paper tickets for scenarios like this, but where does that leave customers who quite legitimately decide to purchase an e-ticket instead?
     
  28. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    Good point. They should fill out a paper slip bit that’s never going to happen....
     
  29. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    But Mr and Mrs Passenger travel on the "railway" and to them an authorised member of staff is just any member of railway staff regardless of what TOC employs them! You have to see it from the ordinary passengers point of view not from the viewpoint of people like you and I who understand the nuances of the fragmented railway.
     
  30. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Indeed.

    Just to be clear, it's not true to say that it has to be a member of staff of the same company who informs the customer.

    None of the excuses posted in this thread negate the rail industry's legal obligations under contract and consumer laws.

    LNER did pay compensation, as they are required to do. I would advise any staff who are considering bringing their employer into disrepute, generating bad publicity for their employer, and costing their employer in time and resources to investigate and issue compensation, to seriously re-consider their actions.
     
  31. Westcoast-ting

    Westcoast-ting Member

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    A point I raised when I was a guard was that all staff members offering ticket advice should endorse the ticket with their initials as a minimum.

    I’ve rang stations and spoken to platform staff and asked them if they endorsed passengers to travel and in 99% of cases the answer was always ‘ I never saw their tickets’

    The railway just need to make staff accountable for the advice they give, be it with a stamp or their initials ? This hopefully would avoid the bad publicity when genuine passengers get miss treated
     

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