Portlethen-Stirling itinerary via Aberdeen: Did I 'short fare'?

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by Chew Chew, 23 Apr 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Chew Chew

    Chew Chew Member

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    29 Aug 2010
    On Saturday I went Portlethen-Aberdeen-Stirling. Portlethen is about 8 miles south of Aberdeen so I did double back on myself.

    On getting on the 1111 Portlethen to Aberdeen train I bought a Portlethen to Stirling return for £41.70 from the conductor with no issues and I then got the 1142 to Stirling and all was fine.

    On returning I got the 1907 from Stirling and was looking to get into Aberdeen for 2122 and have a BoJ there before completing my journey on the 2227 to Portlethen. When I tried to exit the barriers in Aberdeen my ticket wouldn't work and when I spoke to the CSA they told me I had short fared and I had to buy a Portlethen to Aberdeen single at £3.60.

    On looking at the Scotrail site it says that if I had got the 2007 from Stirling going to Aberdeen and then doubling back to Portlethen is valid so why isn't it valid to do it on the 1907? Ultimately I'd have been getting on the same train to complete my journey to Portlethen.
     
  2. Crossover

    Crossover Established Member

    Messages:
    6,836
    Joined:
    4 Jun 2009
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    If I've understood correctly, I don't see that you did anything wrong. The return allows a BoJ, I am 99% sure and you were therefore entitled to take an earlier train to Aberdeen to spend some time there. The CSA was wrong as far as I'm concerned

    As for doubling back, whilst you may have left Aberdeen the same direction you arrived, you didn't pass back through any stations so in that sense it isn't doubling back - you arrived and left on different routes
     
  3. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    21,451
    Joined:
    4 Feb 2010
    Eh? Unless I missed a newly constructed line there that is very much a doubleback. ;)

    The answer to the original question is yes and no imo. The Routeing Guide says that doubleback via Aberdeen is not permitted, however I suspect that there may be some sort of unofficial local easement in place, considering the sparsity of services to/from Portlethen, hence why guards tend to be a bit more relaxed with passengers doing this sort of thing even if not strictly permitted.

    Alternatively, you can go down the route of arguing your case using the online itinerary. There is no reason why the 1907 would not be permitted AFAIK.
     
  4. Chew Chew

    Chew Chew Member

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    29 Aug 2010
    So the routeing guide says no and the online itinerary says yes! As clear as mud.

    I might send an email to Scotrail and see what they say.
     
    Last edited: 24 Apr 2015
  5. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    34,896
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    An itinerary forms a binding contract.

    However an itinerary via a station that is not on a permitted route is best done without going through gatelines, if you wish for your journey to be hassle-free and, especially, if you wish to be able to use the ticket in future.

    (Disclaimer: some people might say that you might be seen to be deliberately exploiting an error, and therefore committing fraud, however that's not the position of the rail industry)

    They might say something like this...
    "Thank you for informing us of this error, we really appreciate this as it ensures that we can maximise our revenues.

    We will ensure that itineraries are no longer offered via Aberdeen, and these journey opportunities will cease to exist.

    This will provide a simplified experience for customers.

    If you wish to travel the convoluted route via Aberdeen in future, you will require a combination of Portlethen-Aberdeen and Aberdeen-Stirling tickets.

    Our research indicates that most passengers wish to travel via direct trains, or the shortest route. Most of our passengers do not wish to take a longer route, and therefore we are pleased you informed us of this, so that we can simplify the process, enabling you to purchase your ticket in confidence
    "

    ;)

    This could potentially result in you not arriving into Stirling until 1443 (to arrive before that time, you have to leave Portlethen at 0945)

    On the return trip, you would have to depart Stirling at 2107 and not arrive into Portlethen until 2350! If that was too late for you, then you have to depart at 1639, arriving 1952 with over an hour in Dundee!

    But ATOC insists passengers wish to take the shortest route. Not the quickest!

    I hope that, in practice, Scotrail will see sense, and realise what customers really want (faster journeys and the ability to go to multiple places in a day - as car drivers can do!) and give you an acceptable answer, get an easement implemented, and arrange for a refund and briefing of Aberdeen's gateline staff.... but that is by no means certain and I wouldn't bet on it! Sorry to sound cynical, but I've seen so many tickets get further restricted in recent years :( I hope your case is an exception to the overall trend!
     
  6. Chew Chew

    Chew Chew Member

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    29 Aug 2010
    I've bought the same ticket in the past and used the 2007 from Stirling for the return and I've not went through the barrier at Aberdeen as the train pulls into right next to the southbound train. Never had an issue from the conductor on the 2227 when I've done it in the past.

    I'll not bother with that email then. ;)

    Of course, the issue wouldn't be there if more trains stopped at Portlethen but that is a discussion for another thread.

    I was heading to Alloa to see the football so the 1639 would mean I would miss the second half and apart from drinking in a pub in Stirling there is no way I'd stay there until 2100.

    I'll just stick to the 2007 in future I reckon and screenshot the itinerary and hope nothing happens.
     
    Last edited: 24 Apr 2015
  7. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    34,896
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    The cat is out the bag now it's on the forum, so you may as well!:lol:

    If they disallow it, would you be able to get your MP (Sir Robert Smith) on the case and is he likely to be supportive? <D If so, go for it!

    The fare (Aberdeen-Stirling vs Portlethen-Stirling) is identical, so it's not a "loophole" and isn't a revenue risk.
     
  8. Chew Chew

    Chew Chew Member

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    29 Aug 2010
    I'm not too sure Sir Robert Smith would want to help me too much after a recent email conversation I've been having with his people on other matters. :lol::lol: Maybe best to go through my MSP instead.

    I'll fire off an email and see what they say. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that.
     
  9. Crossover

    Crossover Established Member

    Messages:
    6,836
    Joined:
    4 Jun 2009
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I need to look this up properly on a computer rather than mobile, but given that NRES suggested only via Aberdeen on every trip, presumably due to the sparse service of the origin, off a cursory glance all seemed ok to me!!!
     
    Last edited: 26 Apr 2015
  10. bignosemac

    bignosemac Established Member

    Messages:
    4,250
    Joined:
    12 Oct 2009
    <pedant> He's not an MP, he's a prospective parliamentary candidate. </pedant>
     
  11. Indigo2

    Indigo2 Established Member

    Messages:
    2,981
    Joined:
    16 Apr 2010
    Location:
    Reading
    I don't think it's that clear-cut. Doublebacks between an associated station and a routeing point are permitted - although of course the local journey must in itself be permitted (i.e. through train or within 3 miles of shortest route). The doubleback check only applies to the mapped route.

    So it comes down to whether or not Aberdeen is an appropriate origin routeing point for a Portlethen to Stirling journey. Doing the fares check using NFM64 fares, which booking engines are mandated to use, shows that the single fare from both Portlethen and Aberdeen to Stirling is £27.50, hence Aberdeen is an appropriate origin routeing point and that route is permitted.

    Incidentally the fares now, 19 years later are only £30.40 and £32.30 respectively - very low inflation in that part of the world.
     
  12. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    21,451
    Joined:
    4 Feb 2010
    I did actually consider the point about NFM64 fares but with farehistory website throwing a wobbly with regard to Portlethen fares, I just ignored it since the actual Routeing Guide makes no mention of NFM64.

    So still a yes/no answer, but that at least explains why the booking engines are allowing it.
     
  13. Chew Chew

    Chew Chew Member

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    29 Aug 2010
    Here is the email I received back from Scotrail.

    I'll keep the email in a folder on its own incase I have the same problem again in the future but I still have a few issues.

    Firstly is that they say the ticket was valid for a BoJ in Aberdeen so having to buy an additional ticket was an error on their part, that being the case it wouldn't be a 'goodwill gesture' that they should be offering.

    Secondly, the Portlethen-Aberdeen single I had to buy wasn't the only extra expense I had. In addition to this I also paid for a bus ticket to get home.

    Thirdly, at Aberdeen the platforms are all gated so I have no tickets to send back to them. My Portlethen-Aberdeen was taking by the barrier and my original Stirling-Portlethen ticket was taken by the CSA.
     
  14. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

    Messages:
    2,860
    Joined:
    3 Mar 2014
    Location:
    Merseyside
    If your ticket was valid and they have admitted that then they need to offer you a refund (as you were told a ticket incorrectly), IN ADDITION to a gesture of goodwill (which will likely be a RTV) and I would certainly advise them of this.
     
  15. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    34,896
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I am pleased they agree the itinerary offered is valid, and I am hopeful you will be fully compensated.
    Correct.

    It's contradictory. Perhaps they have some standard templates and the contradiction wasn't noticed when proof reading?

    I'd ignore the wording of "gesture of goodwill" and, rather than quibbling over their choice of words, simply thank them for confirming the ticket was valid and agreeing to offer a full refund. (as, whatever the way they worded it, a refund is effectively what they appear to be offering)
    Enclose the bus ticket too. I doubt they'll quibble over that, but if they do, then you can take it to Transport Focus.
    Explain this in your letter.

    If you paid for the tickets by card, enclose an extract from your bank statement if you wish to provide some evidence.

    In future, try to retain the tickets (and, if refused, make a note of the fact and ask if the staff will sign it to agree it's a true account of what happened) and always take a photograph (a camera phone will do) of any tickets before putting them through a gateline or handing them over.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I agree, clearly a full refund of all costs is due.

    You're right that a further gesture of goodwill could reasonably be expected, and asked for. However, given the circumstances I personally would settle for the bus & train ticket costs at this stage.

    If they refuse either, or both, then I'd be considering my position.
     
  16. jopsuk

    jopsuk Veteran Member

    Messages:
    11,129
    Joined:
    13 May 2008
    He's neither now
     
  17. johnnychips

    johnnychips Established Member

    Messages:
    1,440
    Joined:
    19 Nov 2011
    Location:
    Doncaster
    Oof! :D
     
  18. Chew Chew

    Chew Chew Member

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    29 Aug 2010
    Here is an update of how things are going so far since the initial response I received from Scotrail.

    Scotrail don't want to reimburse the extra charges they admit I shouldn't have had to pay!

     
  19. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    34,896
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Go to Passenger Focus (Sorry, they no longer focus on passengers; they're now Transport Focus) and your MP and, if they're supportive, keep fighting it. Sadly Transport Focus aren't particularly helpful in many cases, but maybe this is one they will be of use. Worth a try.

    Scotrail incorrectly charged you a fare you should never have been charged. When we underpay, we can be threatened with prosecution. When they overcharge, there should be a more level playing field in my opinion.

    They can continue to refuse to pay for the bus if they want, but they've wasted your time, so an admin fee seems entirely appropriate to me. <D
     
  20. Merseysider

    Merseysider Established Member Fares Advisor

    Messages:
    3,599
    Joined:
    22 Jan 2014
    Location:
    North West
    Entirely agree.

    If you have a new MP in your constituency, he/she will be more than happy to 'prove' themselves!
     
  21. crehld

    crehld Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

    Messages:
    1,959
    Joined:
    1 Nov 2014
    Location:
    Between Crewe & Hellifield
    Interesting they cite the NRCoC requirement to return your tickets to be eligible for a refund / compensation. Strictly speaking you've already returned the tickets to ScotRail when their member of staff took one ticket off you and their barrier swallowed the other! Thus the tickets are now in their possession. From what I can see you have fulfilled this requirement under the NRCoC.

    That said given their attitude so far I can't see that argument progressing your conversation with them further so yes, next stop Transport Focus.
     
  22. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    34,896
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Very good point!

    Some Train Companies are very good at pointing out our obligations (and on occasions this can include false claims that we've not met them, when we clearly have), but not very good at adhering to their own obligations. Interesting that!
     
  23. Chew Chew

    Chew Chew Member

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    29 Aug 2010
    Cheers for the responses.

    Certainly food for thought with the comment from crehld that I have already returned the tickets to them. I have to be honest and say I never thought of it like that.

    I am willing to give them one further attempt to resolve this in an acceptable manner.

    If they are unwilling to do that am I best going down the Transport Focus route or the emailing the CEO route?

    Up until the most recent response I'd have been happy to get the £6.70 and all would have been forgotten about but their responses are raising my hackles a bit now.
     
  24. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

    Messages:
    3,753
    Joined:
    27 Apr 2011
    Thing they'd be better off just paying up. It's going to cost them far more than £6.70 in their staff time telling you to go away.
     
  25. Chew Chew

    Chew Chew Member

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    29 Aug 2010
    Scotrail are asking me to go to Transport Focus to resolve this. I've asked for a variant of a HLC or chairman's office to resolve it instead.

     
  26. Chew Chew

    Chew Chew Member

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    29 Aug 2010
    All's well that ends well.

    Had an email from Phil Verster, MD of Scotrail, and a voicemail from Linda Gallagher, head of customer service, yesterday confirming that they'll refund the extra charges I had to pay.

    One interesting thing in the message Linda Gallagher left was that the staff that deal with communications sometimes don't know when they should be deviating from normal procedures. I always thought that was what supervisors, managers and contact centre managers were there for?

    Having worked myself in a contact centre for a long while we would always do whatever we could to resolve a complaint before it got sent to the equivalent of Transport Focus whereas Scotrail were happy for me to go there before I asked to escalate internally. I thought that was a bit strange.
     
  27. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    34,896
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Glad to hear :)

    Well done for persevering; most rail customers who are wronged give up, so nothing changes usually!
    The rail industry is very different to almost all others. It's not at all uncommon to encounter a "tough, go to Transport Focus, we don't give a damn and they're toothless anyway so who cares" type attitude (OK they don't word it like that - but reading between the lines, that's often what they mean!).

    Perhaps in your industry the equivalent of Transport Focus has some real teeth and actual powers. Not so in the rail industry; Transport Focus are funded by the DfT and the Train Companies are not in the slightest bit scared of them.

    When it comes to railway passengers, there is no effective Regulator, no proper ombudsman, and no truly independent watchdog with any actual powers. I can't see that changing any time soon.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page