Southern ticket machines being deceptive

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ianBR

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I recently went to Victoria at 5pm to buy a single ticket to Brighton to travel now

The machine offered the choice of these tickets:

  • Off-Peak Single - with a huge warning that it would not be valid a peak times and to check restrictions
  • Anytime Single
Clearly most people would assume that the warning was there relating to the evening peak times which you are clearly in.

However off-peak is valid for any train leaving after 9.30am, so why is the ticket machine not programmed to only offer that fare after 9.30am? The difference in price is not that significant but the vast majority of people will probably pick the more expensive fare just for fear of having the wrong ticket.

Even worse on the next screen you get this unhelpful scenario so you can't even go to the national rail website to read up on the restriction if you wanted to!....

  • IMG_5029.jpg
 
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Wallsendmag

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Sorry what's deceptive? There was a plan a couple of years ago that made sure people were aware of the restriction appertaining to tickets. This asks you to check. Again LNER machines do a journey plan to verify your ticket is valid for your journey but we were panned for introducing this feature.
 

ianBR

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Well it wouldn't take very complicated computer programming to work out what time of day it was and only sell off-peak tickets if someone is buying a single ticket for today.
If time>09:30 then hide anytime option.

In addition why not give an option to display all the restrictions on the screen rather than an obscure reference to the national rail website whilst blocking the code you'd need to search for by superimposing an arrow over the top of it. Don't they do any user testing of these things.

How are tourists supposed to navigate all that?

It would be interesting to see what percentage of anytime tickets are bought unnecessarily after 9.30am every day.
 
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Haywain

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Well it wouldn't take very complicated computer programming to work out what time of day it was and only sell off-peak tickets if someone is buying a single ticket for today.
If time>09:30 then hide anytime option.
But there are industry requirements to sell all tickets at all times which prevent such actions.
 

MotCO

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But there are industry requirements to sell all tickets at all times which prevent such actions.
Can they not be offered on another screen? I've seen other reports on this forum which suggest that some valid tickets need hunting out by going to subsequent screens.
 

ianBR

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But there are industry requirements to sell all tickets at all times which prevent such actions.
And yet these same ticket machines refuse to sell off-peak tickets in the morning, even where people know they are travelling after 9.30am (forcing people to go to the ticket office for the right ticket or buy a more expensive one)

The industry can't have it both ways. If it is possible to restrict ticket options in the morning peak to tickets it deems most appropriate there is no excuse not to do that once the morning peak has finished
 

talldave

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And yet these same ticket machines refuse to sell off-peak tickets in the morning, even where people know they are travelling after 9.30am (forcing people to go to the ticket office for the right ticket or buy a more expensive one)

The industry can't have it both ways. If it is possible to restrict ticket options in the morning peak to tickets it deems most appropriate there is no excuse not to do that once the morning peak has finished
When I used to travel through Gatwick a lot I often wanted to buy a ticket for the following day to avoid the queues. However, the machines would refuse to sell an off-peak ticket, so I would stand by the machine, purchase the ticket on my phone and collect it from the machine immediately, pointing out to the staff the absurdity of the situation!
 

Starmill

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Sorry what's deceptive? There was a plan a couple of years ago that made sure people were aware of the restriction appertaining to tickets. This asks you to check. Again LNER machines do a journey plan to verify your ticket is valid for your journey but we were panned for introducing this feature.
Panned by whom?

I've only seen criticisms relayed to LNER's appalling user interfaces on ticket machines. Nothing to do with their features. Being in systems I thought you'd know that.
 

FenMan

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But there are industry requirements to sell all tickets at all times which prevent such actions.
Er, ok. The GWR ticket machines don't show any super off peak tickets, priced by SWR, from my home station I've given up that GWR will do anything about it and now buy the correct ticket while standing next to the machine, using my phone.
 

SteveM70

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But there are industry requirements to sell all tickets at all times which prevent such actions.
Is that *literally* the case?

If so:

(a) it would explain why Northern’s new machines offer anytime day returns on Saturdays

and

(b) blatantly mislead passengers and lead to overcharging

Surely if like the example I’ve described there are *absolutely no circumstances* where the more expensive ticket is the correct one for the customer, why insist it’s offered?
 

Haywain

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Is that *literally* the case?

If so:

(a) it would explain why Northern’s new machines offer anytime day returns on Saturdays

and

(b) blatantly mislead passengers and lead to overcharging

Surely if like the example I’ve described there are *absolutely no circumstances* where the more expensive ticket is the correct one for the customer, why insist it’s offered?
I sympathise with your view on this. Unfortunately the industry data is structured around when a ticket is valid rather than when it is appropriate to sell a ticket.
 

RJ

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So this is how the real world works.

TOCs will suppress the sale of tickets where it may lead to revenue loss. This is why TVMs tend not to offer Off Peak tickets at times of day when only Anytime tickets are valid, which is fair enough.

TOCs often will not suppress the sale of tickets where people may overpay. For example, the situation in the first post and things like Anytime Day Returns / Travelcards being offered on the front page popular tickets display on weekends - and people buy them. It is known this is the case, but it is not a priority issue to address on the TOC side. It probably costs a fortune to have TVMs reprogrammed to collect less revenue. It is cheaper to signpost customers to information on restrictions which a significant number of people won't understand with the way they are written.

The onus is placed on the customer to know what they are buying so as not to pay more than necessary. The pragmatic approach is to know what you're buying so you don't overpay and not worry about it.
 
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SteveM70

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The onus is placed on the customer to know what they are buying so as not to pay more than necessary. Is anyone here expecting TOCs to pay what's probably an absolute fortune to reprogram TVMs to collect less revenue? The pragmatic approach is to know what you're buying so you don't overpay and not worry about it.
And that would be just about ok if the ticketing system was straightforward enough for the average user to confidently choose the correct, best value ticket. But it isn’t. Over time the industry has made it ever more complicated. The fact that the TOCs can be bothered to protect themselves from customers erroneously buying tickets cheaper than they should, but can’t be bothered when it’s the other way round, is immoral. But sadly not illegal
 

DaveB10780

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And that would be just about ok if the ticketing system was straightforward enough for the average user to confidently choose the correct, best value ticket. But it isn’t. Over time the industry has made it ever more complicated. The fact that the TOCs can be bothered to protect themselves from customers erroneously buying tickets cheaper than they should, but can’t be bothered when it’s the other way round, is immoral. But sadly not illegal
Seconded immoral is a good word.
 

RJ

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And that would be just about ok if the ticketing system was straightforward enough for the average user to confidently choose the correct, best value ticket. But it isn’t. Over time the industry has made it ever more complicated. The fact that the TOCs can be bothered to protect themselves from customers erroneously buying tickets cheaper than they should, but can’t be bothered when it’s the other way round, is immoral. But sadly not illegal
That's right. I favour taking a pragmatic approach over spending time thinking about something that isn't going to change. As a profession I help people to make the right choice of ticket and out of work get calls from people inside and outside of the railways asking for that kind of information.

The system is what it is. It's down to individuals to either conduct the necessary research if getting the best value ticket is important to them, or consult a trusted person who can advise if that's easier.
 

Iggy12a

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To be fair to Southern, if you look in the middle of the screen that the OP showed, the time at which the ticket is valid, is indeed shown. Screenshot_20200224-202049.png
 

RJ

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To be fair to Southern, if you look in the middle of the screen that the OP showed, the time at which the ticket is valid, is indeed shown. View attachment 74582
It would help if it clarifies what times it's valid on weekends. A lot of customers ask what time the first off peak train is on weekends and quite a few hold off starting their journeys until 0930 on weekends.
 

Wallsendmag

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So this is how the real world works.

TOCs will suppress the sale of tickets where it may lead to revenue loss. This is why TVMs tend not to offer Off Peak tickets at times of day when only Anytime tickets are valid, which is fair enough.

TOCs often will not suppress the sale of tickets where people may overpay. For example, the situation in the first post and things like Anytime Day Returns / Travelcards being offered on the front page popular tickets display on weekends - and people buy them. It is known this is the case, but it is not a priority issue to address on the TOC side. It probably costs a fortune to have TVMs reprogrammed to collect less revenue. It is cheaper to signpost customers to information on restrictions which a significant number of people won't understand with the way they are written.

The onus is placed on the customer to know what they are buying so as not to pay more than necessary. The pragmatic approach is to know what you're buying so you don't overpay and not worry about it.
I've got more than enough work on my hands already without playing that sort of game and no I don't cost the TOC that I work for a fortune.
 

furlong

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But sadly not illegal
Actually it might well be illegal if the train company was aware it was overcharging and chose not to address the problem, but the DfT handed the enforcement / prosecution role to the seemingly disinterested ORR. It might be more effective if the DfT transferred the enforcement powers to a more consumer-focussed body - I think even Transport Focus would make a much better job of it. Imagine the step change in behaviour we might see if Transport Focus could prosecute a TOC if it failed to address adequately systematic problems that it identified like this one. As things stand, Transport Focus should be putting pressure on the ORR to obtain internal records from the TOCs concerned with a view to prosecution.
 

RJ

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I've got more than enough work on my hands already without playing that sort of game and no I don't cost the TOC that I work for a fortune.
It is how the TVMs are programmed at some locations in the UK - it has been that way for years.

Where you are investment has probably been made in the software and hardware that makes it possible to implement those kind of changes for a marginal cost. However not everywhere does things the same way.
 
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AlbertBeale

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That's right. I favour taking a pragmatic approach over spending time thinking about something that isn't going to change. As a profession I help people to make the right choice of ticket and out of work get calls from people inside and outside of the railways asking for that kind of information.

The system is what it is. It's down to individuals to either conduct the necessary research if getting the best value ticket is important to them, or consult a trusted person who can advise if that's easier.
I don't see that anyone should need to "conduct the necessary research" in order to get on a train! You go to the station, buy a ticket from the ticket office or a machine, and expect (or at least I do) to be sold the best (cheapest) available ticket to make the journey. Why would the causal traveller even know there was any research to be done?
 

RJ

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I don't see that anyone should need to "conduct the necessary research" in order to get on a train! You go to the station, buy a ticket from the ticket office or a machine, and expect (or at least I do) to be sold the best (cheapest) available ticket to make the journey. Why would the causal traveller even know there was any research to be done?
Lots of people choose unnecessarily expensive ticket types from the TVMs. Some people buy Anytime Day Travelcards from the TVMs on weekends because it's prominently advertised on the front page and they think that the name implies the Off Peak Day Travelcard has restrictions.

Some time spent comprehending the software and available ticket types would save them money.
 

AlbertBeale

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Lots of people choose unnecessarily expensive ticket types from the TVMs. Some people buy Anytime Day Travelcards from the TVMs on weekends because it's prominently advertised on the front page and they think that the name implies the Off Peak Day Travelcard has restrictions.

Some time spent comprehending the software and available ticket types would save them money.
Why would anyone even think they needed to spend time "comprehending the software"? Many people don't even know they're being ripped off. If machines are capable of selling too-expensive tickets, and there aren't enough staff to deal with travellers face-to-face to ensure that doesn't happen, then as far as I'm concerned the railway companies are defrauding people.
 

Haywain

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Why would anyone even think they needed to spend time "comprehending the software"? Many people don't even know they're being ripped off. If machines are capable of selling too-expensive tickets, and there aren't enough staff to deal with travellers face-to-face to ensure that doesn't happen, then as far as I'm concerned the railway companies are defrauding people.
But people spend time researching the cost of electricity, broadband, a new washing machine and many other things - why not train fares as well?
 

LexyBoy

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But there are industry requirements to sell all tickets at all times which prevent such actions.
This is clearly not the case - for example TVMs won't offer Off Peak tickets before a certain time, and don't necessarily offer all tickets at all. TVMs at Reading for example don't sell Super Off Peak Day tickets to many SWT stations despite there being direct services and these usually being the cheapest tickets.

IMO ticket machines should be held to the same standards as face-to-face sales.
 
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