Refused travel at Waterloo with Travelcard

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wibble

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Presumably the same way that you can get a position as a booking office manager without having an excellent (or in some cases, even a middling) knowledge of ticket restrictions. An ability to shamelessly back up staff who are lying to customers is clearly an advantage.

The case in the OP is the sort of thing that should definitely fall within the scope of the new ombudsman if/when they commence operation.
Of course, it's obviously unreasonable for them to not quote the validity of every ticket type and restriction for any journey from/to/via via their station. You're implying that a manager shouldn't back up their staff, when the staff member should have better knowledge of ticketing....
 
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Ianno87

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Of course, it's obviously unreasonable for them to not quote the validity of every ticket type and restriction for any journey from/to/via via their station. You're implying that a manager shouldn't back up their staff, when the staff member should have better knowledge of ticketing....
"Back up" can include politely pointing out to them where they have gone wrong and working with them to understand why and that it (hopefully) doesn't happen again.
 

Bletchleyite

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Of course, it's obviously unreasonable for them to not quote the validity of every ticket type and restriction for any journey from/to/via via their station. You're implying that a manager shouldn't back up their staff, when the staff member should have better knowledge of ticketing....
If a complaint is made the manager should investigate it rather than blindly assuming his staff have done no wrong. Then if the staff are found to be correct they should be complimented on a good job, and if not they should be retrained.
 

joncombe

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This Super Off Peak Travelcard ticket has caused a lot of problems since it was introduced. I don't think the restrictions have ever been properly implemented in any of the journey planners so I'm not surprised to hear it is still causing problems. Whilst the problems I've had which I've outlined below are specific to the Super Off Peak Weekend Travelcard (rather than on a weekday as I think the OP was travelling) I suspect it's the same issue, that journey planners cannot seemingly distinguish between journeys wholly within the Travelcard zones (which are not time restricted) and those outside, which are.

For example if you put in a journey from Woking to London Euston at say 7am on a Saturday, returning at 9pm into the National Rail journey planner, you should be offered this ticket on all the journeys offered. Instead some are priced at £19.30 (the Super Off Peak ticket) and others at £24.10 (the off peak ticket), though just to add to the confusion it shows both tickets as "Off Peak Travelcard". The issue seems to be that the time restrictions should only apply to the journey you make into the Travelcard zones (from outside the zones) and the final return journey to outside the zones, not to journeys wholly within the Travelcard zones. However it seems that the journey planners in fact apply the time restrictions to any journey. In this example, the services where it suggests alighting at Clapham Junction and taking a train into London Victoria (rather than Waterloo) are priced higher because it's incorrectly applied the time restriction on trains leaving Clapham Junction (which should only apply when travelling out of the zones).

I presume in the OPs case the barrier staff have also incorrectly applied this restriction even though this part of the journey from London Waterloo to Wandsworth Town was wholly within the zones and should be covered by the Travelcard portion of the ticket. The problem is made worse because the restrictions are not made clear on the National Rail website either (see http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/UR) where it does not make clear the time restrictions are only to the out-of-zone part of the journey (this is made clearer on the SWR website).

South Western Railways own journey planner never even offers the Super Off Peak Travelcard for the example journey I mentioned (Woking to London Euston), so they are overcharging people. This makes cases like this even more problematic because barrier staff (or their managers) might then show you on a journey planner that your ticket is not valid for the journey (even though it is, but the planner is in error) there by "proving" they are right (even though they are not).

I've tried hard (with zero success) to get this changed, with South Western Railway, National Rail Enquiries and the Rail Delivery Group. South Western Railway agreed that their journey planner was incorrectly offering only the more expensive ticket for this journey and suggested I use their telesales line (as they told me their own internal system does offer the correct ticket) and that they would pass my comments on to their website team. I don't know if they did, but even if they did, nothing changed, their planner still overcharges. National Rail Enquiries insisted their website was right. After exchanging numerous emails with Rail Delivery Group I did finally get a more satisfactory response, which I've pasted below.

I’m pleased to let you know though that we contacted the Pricing Manager at South Western Railway and have now received a response.

He mentioned that the Restriction UR is used for both the rail-only and Day Travelcards. The Online Journey Planner cannot currently deal with journeys via (e.g changing at Clapham Junction), and therefore, treats each change as a separate journey, but a large body of work is currently taking place to improve the Journey Planner and indeed the de-complicate fares like these. In the meantime, I can confirm that this travelcard is valid at any time at weekends when you’re inside Zones 1-6. The departure time restriction at Clapham Junction is only intended for journeys to stations beyond Zone 6.

National Rail Enquiries has three opportunities a year to update fares and restrictions when they are provided by the Train Operating Companies in January, May and September.

The Pricing Manager has assured us that he will look into this in the next fare change period which will be taking place in May 2018.
Whether anything will actually change in May time will tell, but I doubt it given how long journey planners have been wrongly applying the restrictions on this ticket. I thought it was a breach of franchise agreement if TOCs are not offering the cheapest ticket for the journey (as SWR and other TOCs are not in this cases), yet nothing seems to get done about it and some (like NRE) will continually insist they are right, even when presented with evidence they are not.
 

talldave

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Is the underlying problem actually that the validity of a Super Off Peak ticket is effectively determined by where you're going to get off the train? Which is pretty impossible to "police" at the station where you get on the train. Ie: If you get off within Zones 1-6, it's valid, if you go outside the zones, it may not be.

However, that's no different to the concept of travelling past your destination on any ticket, so it's no reason to deny travel.
 

MikeWM

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Just to update as promised - I've now received a response to my complaint from SWR Customer Service.

On the plus side, my complaint has clearly been carefully read and replied to properly (ie. not a stock response). It has been confirmed that I should have been allowed to travel. They also inform me that the details of the event have been notified to relevant management.

On the less positive side, they didn't offer any explanation as to why this may have occurred in the first place, or anything specific about how they will prevent similar incidents from occuring in the future.

On the 'well, it would have been nice side', they haven't offered me any freebies to make up for the whole irritating experience. A free return on SWR, or similar, would have rather helped improve my opinion of the company ;)

On balance, I think it fair to leave this here, and hope nothing similar occurs in the future.
 

MikeWM

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I didn’t really think to ask for Delay Repay, and don’t think it worth my time now, for what I think would amount to less than a quid anyway...

I’d rather they’d done something ex gratia to acknowledge just how poor this was, but as they haven’t I’ll just keep my negative opinions and leave it there. Which is a shame, as largely I liked SWT, but in my limited experience SWR are off to a very poor start by comparison.

If it happens again, however...! (Though personally I’m not likely to be travelling again on SWR on a weekday for at least the next few months)
 

RJ

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On the less positive side, they didn't offer any explanation as to why this may have occurred in the first place, or anything specific about how they will prevent similar incidents from occuring in the future.
There are some things in life where you have to recalibrate your expectations of what you consider to be acceptable.

You may feel it is reasonable that gateline staff at a London Terminal should understand that an Off Peak Travelcard is valid after 09:30 within the zones, but that might not be a view shared by whoever manages that gateline, which is why this occurred.

It could be prevented by sitting the staff down, providing them with a good quality training course and making sure they understood by finishing the training with an examination with a suitable pass mark. Whilst this would empower them to continue with their duties with a lessened risk of unnecessary conflict and thus better customer service, you can probably take an educated guess as to how likely this is to happen.

Consequently, I really wouldn't spend any time worrying about it.
 
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