Phone battery died - not given opportunity to buy new ticket

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maxid

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My phone died on a recent journey and I could not show my valid ticket. I have received a £145 fine and letter threatening prosecution from SWR. I would be very grateful if anybody here could answer some questions:

1. If I can demonstrate evidence of a valid ticket should/will they forgive the fine?

2. The fine is for £45, and the admin fee for £100. Is this standard? It seems to me that this effectively makes the fine £145. Note: this is the first letter I have received from them.

3. The guard on the train had already looked at my ticket. I was issued the fine at the Waterloo station exit gates. Is this mitigating circumstances?

4a. SWR's terms and conditions say, "If it runs out of battery in the middle of a journey, you may have to pay the appropriate fare or could face paying a penalty fare." I was not offered the opportunity to buy another ticket. Should I have been?

4b. If I had been offered that opportunity, and purchased a new ticket, could I then have claimed a refund when showing the original ticket.

5. I would note the following two tweets from Network Rail. Any thoughts?? https://twitter.com/nationalrailenq/status/1214907017971810304?lang=en-GB and also this thread: https://twitter.com/IAmTravel/status/1435907958177767428

Any advice gratefully received. But please don't lecture me about how I should have ensured there was enough battery on my phone. It is not helpful. I am aware of that fact. I travel often, and this time it just died.

Thanks!!

Max
 
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island

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Did anyone at Waterloo station ask you to show them your ticket?

Does the letter from South Western Railway specify what offence you are suspected of?
 

maxid

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Thank you!
Here you go

Yes, the person at the gates at Waterloo asked for ticket, which I obviously could not show since the phone was dead.
And please see the letter in previous post for more details of offence.
 

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island

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1) Unfortunately, if you were asked to show your ticket and you didn't/couldn't/wouldn't do so, you're guilty of a criminal offence. Tickets need to be shown at time of travel and not later.
2) This amount is in the normal range for situations like this.
3) No, because as far as SWR is concerned you could have given your ticket to someone else to get out at Waterloo.
4a) It is SWR and not you that gets to choose between letting someone off, selling a new ticket, issuing a Penalty Fare, or Reporting for Prosecution.
4b) Yes, depending on the terms of the ticket used.
5) Historical tweets by other organisations may not reflect current rules and do not bind South Western Railway.

Your choices are basically either to pay the sum requested or try to debate it, but if you do the latter and are unsuccessful, there is no certainty the possibility of paying the £145.50 will still be available. Any prosecution against you of failing to hand over your ticket for inspection will inevitably result in you being convicted, and the average fine for this offence is £220 plus costs and compensation, which will probably be roughly the same again.
 

maxid

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Okay thank you.
Generally, when members try to appeal these things:
1. Is the train company sympathetic?
2. If they reject the appeal, do they tend to continue to offer the £145.50?
 

WesternLancer

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I guess the OP could pay this (for reasons @island states ) which will prevent court action - then seek to negotiate with SWR customer services to secure a goodwill repayment of all or some of the sum on the basis that this seems overly harsh penalty when ticket was held? Not sure that will get anywhere but it would be worth trying.

You could make an argument based on the amount of money you have paid SWR over the last year or so (say) and tell them you will, in future, use other methods of transport rather than theirs (and copy it all to your MP - since the punitive regime is basically being dictated by the Dept for Transport, which I am sure is translating into these sorts of outcomes for passengers at the customer interface level).

The railway are keen for people to switch to e payments and electronic ticketing - I suspect a lot fewer people would do that if they started to realise they are one tech error or flat battery away from a hefty financial penalty and / or court action.

Of course it is no different to what would have happened if you had had a paper ticket, that got checked on the trian by the guard, but then you lost it before arrival at Waterloo, which is not impossible, and had to ask to be let through the barrier - they may not believe you ever had a paper ticket.

Okay thank you.
Generally, when members try to appeal these things:
1. Is the train company sympathetic?
2. If they reject the appeal, do they tend to continue to offer the £145.50?
Is this the first letter you got from them? Did you ever get a letter asking for 'your side of the story' as it were? - which you could have replied / maybe did reply to showing proof you had a ticket for example, but phone went dead en route.
 

AlterEgo

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5) Historical tweets by other organisations may not reflect current rules and do not bind South Western Railway.
It should be noted in any case that the tweets refer to the forgotten/unable to show Railcard policy, where a customer has, and can show, a valid ticket but cannot show their railcard, rather than a situation like the OP's where a customer in unable to show any ticket at all.

Okay thank you.
Generally, when members try to appeal these things:
1. Is the train company sympathetic?
2. If they reject the appeal, do they tend to continue to offer the £145.50?
There is no "appeal process", unfortunately. You can write, and ask them to let you off, but this will almost certainly be unsuccessful I'm afraid. The train company can prosecute you in the magistrates' court, so an out of court settlement already represents them showing discretion in this case, although it may perhaps not feel like it.

The best recourse is to pay the amount owed, and invest in a charge bank.

After the matter is settled and the threat of prosecution has gone away, you can try to contact SWR to see if they will agree to any gesture of goodwill, but I regret this may just have to be one of those expensive life lessons.
 

furlong

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It might need some sort of media campaign to force the train companies to behave more reasonably in circumstances such as these. It is inevitable eventually I think, just as they were forced to back down on forgotten railcards and journeys with advance tickets ended early. The rules around mobile-phone-based tickets are heavily biased against the passenger and nobody should use them until the train companies sort this out. Regulatory action is badly needed.

They sent you a standard letter which wasn't customised for your situation, so write back politely with evidence of your ticket, explaining what happened, that you have already paid for the journey (and many more if you're a regular traveller) but eating humble pie for letting your battery run down, and hoping they close the matter?
 

WelshBluebird

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I'm not sure of the answer to these kind of issues, as the current situation really isn't fair at all to the customer. If ToC's (or the DfT) really want to push electronic ticketing to the extent that it seems like, then there really needs to be some more customer friendly options in these scenarios. Sure you could say "make sure your phone is charged", but that ignores other situations like devices being dropped, stolen or even general software bugs either in the ToC's software (I'm not sure if its still the case, but last I checked even software bugs in the specific ToC apps aren't defenses if you can't show a ticket - which to me is utterly insane) or otherwise (I've certainly had bugs with Android before that caused > 10% battery drain in ten mins).
4a) It is SWR and not you that gets to choose between letting someone off, selling a new ticket, issuing a Penalty Fare, or Reporting for Prosecution.
Maybe that should be made clear in the T&C's then?
5) Historical tweets by other organisations may not reflect current rules and do not bind South Western Railway.
I'll be honest, I think this is a massive cop out.
If the "definitive source of customer information for all passenger rail services" says something specific in reply to a customer question, then it bloody should be binding on each and every ToC that is part of the same group. In this case it isn't quite relevant because the linked Tweet is about railcards. But I really do think that this is an area the railway needs to sort out too. The "definitive source of customer information for all passenger rail services" should be exactly that. If it isn't then it needs to stop thinking itself as that and stop telling customers it is that.
 

WesternLancer

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It might need some sort of media campaign to force the train companies to behave more reasonably in circumstances such as these. It is inevitable eventually I think, just as they were forced to back down on forgotten railcards and journeys with advance tickets ended early. The rules around mobile-phone-based tickets are heavily biased against the passenger and nobody should use them until the train companies sort this out. Regulatory action is badly needed.

They sent you a standard letter which wasn't customised for your situation, so write back politely with evidence of your ticket, explaining what happened, that you have already paid for the journey (and many more if you're a regular traveller) but eating humble pie for letting your battery run down, and hoping they close the matter?
Not even sure this was a flat battery situation - OP just says phone died - but v good that @Bletchleyite has started a new thread as it would best this thread not derailed like others before them with stuff about how to keep your phone working. Even the OP started off by saying he does not need that help ;)

But I agree with you very much - a few more 'consumer champion' type articles in the press about people being threatened with court action by the railway as their phone did not work - which is how the newspapers would present it - would probably be no bad thing

and that last para is the best advice for the OP on what to do I think.
 

philthetube

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Whatever actions you decide to take, pay up first, this removes the risk of prosecution. After that there is no risk of them withdrawing the offer if you upset someone.
 

[.n]

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Any advice gratefully received. But please don't lecture me about how I should have ensured there was enough battery on my phone. It is not helpful. I am aware of that fact. I travel often, and this time it just died.

for future reference, I thought most SWR trains now had plugs (as in if that had been me - I would had said hang on a second do you mind if I quickly charge the phone, and gone back onto the train to charge my phone for a few minutes!), but also most annoyingly (for you) is that doesn't Waterloo also have free charging points as well as wifi?

gateline/rpi at Waterloo seem to swing between being super helpful and as bad as the devil - on at least one occasion I've had an rpi refuse to believe both me and the guard (from my train) that I had tried to purchase a ticket but couldn't as dead ticket machine.
 

robbeech

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You’ll almost certainly need to pay this in full and chalk it up to experience. The rules regarding electronic tickets are clear and whilst they seem unfair, there isn’t currently a better method of dealing with this.

You should (after paying) definitely contact the operator and give evidence that you did have a ticket. That ticket should have a scan log to show it was checked on the train in question so it should be perfectly obvious to the operator that this is a simple case of flat battery. They may offer to refund the ticket price, though I suspect you’ll be out of luck on the £100.

You could risk contacting them about it before you pay up but the odds are not in your favour.
 

furlong

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"Amost certainly need to pay this" ? Well the last similar case I remember on here, I thought the result was the person didn't have to pay twice.
 

Class800

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The railway are keen for people to switch to e payments and electronic ticketing - I suspect a lot fewer people would do that if they started to realise they are one tech error or flat battery away from a hefty financial penalty and / or court action.
I totally agree - for another thread, but the personal responsibility aspect of travelling on the railway really needs toning down, when it isn't your fault if technology malfunctions. Could lead to a further loss of business to the roads.
 

londonbridge

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for future reference, I thought most SWR trains now had plugs (as in if that had been me - I would had said hang on a second do you mind if I quickly charge the phone, and gone back onto the train to charge my phone for a few minutes!), but also most annoyingly (for you) is that doesn't Waterloo also have free charging points as well as wifi?

gateline/rpi at Waterloo seem to swing between being super helpful and as bad as the devil - on at least one occasion I've had an rpi refuse to believe both me and the guard (from my train) that I had tried to purchase a ticket but couldn't as dead ticket machine.
This is my line of thinking. Your phone dies or malfunctions en route and you do not have a charging cable or power bank with you. On arrival at your destination you ask for access to charging facilities but are refused. Your argument against the charge of failing to show a valid ticket could be that you had a ticket and was perfectly willing to show it, but were not given the opportunity to do so.
 

Turtle

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This is my line of thinking. Your phone dies or malfunctions en route and you do not have a charging cable or power bank with you. On arrival at your destination you ask for access to charging facilities but are refused. Your argument against the charge of failing to show a valid ticket could be that you had a ticket and was perfectly willing to show it, but were not given the opportunity to do so.
My line of thinking entirely.
I've had a brand new top of the range Samsung phone die within a week of purchase. Fortunately this was after retirement and I certainly didn't have any electronic tickets stored. In my case no spare cable or power pack would have been of help. The Railway must adjust its procedures to take the modern world into account.
 

AlterEgo

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My line of thinking entirely.
I've had a brand new top of the range Samsung phone die within a week of purchase. Fortunately this was after retirement and I certainly didn't have any electronic tickets stored. In my case no spare cable or power pack would have been of help. The Railway must adjust its procedures to take the modern world into account.
It hasn't adjusted its procedures since the 1800s to account for lost paper tickets...don't be too hopeful!
 

Haywain

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The Railway must adjust its procedures to take the modern world into account.
I agree. How about creating electronic tickets that can be accessed from any number of devices?
 

Bletchleyite

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I agree. How about creating electronic tickets that can be accessed from any number of devices?

How about including in that the ability to log onto your railway ticket account at a TVM and reprint?

Or even "OK, sir, perhaps it'd be best if you kept your phone charged as you'd not need to wait around like this, but if you'd just like to give me your name, where your ticket was from and to and what the first day of validity was, and I'll just print it out for you now."

Good customer service.
 

island

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Your argument against the charge of failing to show a valid ticket could be that you had a ticket and was perfectly willing to show it, but were not given the opportunity to do so.
This would not be a valid defence in law and the court would be bound to ignore it.
 

bengley

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Situations like this, and one my partner was in the other day reassure me that electronic tickets are crap, not good for passengers and good old paper tickets are still, by a significant margin, the best option. There also seems to be a lot of fraud with electronic tickets (many times I've spoken to my guards who have told me they had passengers trying to show screenshots from their friend's phone etc...)
 

island

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many times I've spoken to my guards who have told me they had passengers trying to show screenshots from their friend's phone etc...
An e-ticket can be shown as a screenshot if the passenger wants to do so.
 

Bletchleyite

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Situations like this, and one my partner was in the other day reassure me that electronic tickets are crap, not good for passengers and good old paper tickets are still, by a significant margin, the best option. There also seems to be a lot of fraud with electronic tickets (many times I've spoken to my guards who have told me they had passengers trying to show screenshots from their friend's phone etc...)

The barcode is the e-ticket, if it can be scanned it is valid. No reason it can't be presented as a screenshot, a piece of paper, a tattoo (!) or whatever.

Double-use of a ticket would be detected by looking at the scans already recorded against it. It doesn't matter how many copies exist as long as a given barcode is used by only one person and only for one single or return journey as per what was purchased.
 

bengley

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The barcode is the e-ticket, if it can be scanned it is valid. No reason it can't be presented as a screenshot.

Double-use of a ticket would be detected by looking at the scans already recorded against it. It doesn't matter how many copies exist as long as a given barcode is used by only one person.
Yes, I'm referring to people attempting to defraud the system by sharing the ticket with their friends. I realise it will show as already scanned, but these people probably do not.
 

Bletchleyite

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Yes, I'm referring to people attempting to defraud the system by sharing the ticket with their friends. I realise it will show as already scanned, but these people probably do not.

And those people are likely to learn a very expensive lesson, and possibly one involving a criminal record, and so they should*. It's a bit different from your battery running out, though.

* I'm all for getting rid of rail ticketing specific offences as the railway misuses them, but this is simple fraud/falsification and there are other criminal laws against that.
 
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