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Trainline app storing a railcard without the user's knowledge

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Steve Turner

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I was stopped by a Revenue Officer in February 2021 at Stansted Airport having travelled from Guilford. It appears that I have booked a ticket with an Annual Gold Card. I had no knowledge of how to add a rail card on the Trainline app and indeed don't need to because I have no use of a rail card.

I have explored the app in detail and established that it has numerous Consumer Protection flaws that allow the user to inadvertently add a railcard and then as good as leave the railcard undetected and dormant until a qualifying route is booked.

The Revenue Officer didn't explain what offence I had committed and I have only found out today with a Single Justice Procedure Notice (travelling without a valid ticket) This notice is despite dialogue with Great Anglia Prosecutions on the day of the incident, with a reply that they'll be in touch in the tread of 10 emails. There has been no adherent to their Contact Procedures and they have gone straight to prosecution without establishing that any of their Prosecution Criterias have been met, which they have not.

Has this issue occurred with anybody else on the Trainline app?
 
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skyhigh

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Having just gone through the process on the trainline app, it seems to make it fairly clear that a railcard discount is applied:

Screenshot_20210515-192531_Trainline.jpg
(Image shows times and station selection on the trainline app)
Right above the 'Find times and prices' it says 'Annual Gold Card x1'

Screenshot_20210515-193119_Trainline.jpg
(Image shows train times and prices)
On the train selection screen, it says right at the top 'Annual Gold Card savings applied' and the original price is crossed out and the discounted price is displayed.

Screenshot_20210515-192557_Trainline.jpg
(Image shows confirmation of selected ticket)
Once you select your train and ticket, it shows you the number of passengers and the number of railcards applied.

Screenshot_20210515-192611_Trainline.jpg
(Image shows payment summary)
Then on the summary, right above the payment options, it shows the total price, any booking fee applied and that an 'Annual Gold Card discount applied'.

Ultimately, you'll need to convince them that you missed the notification of a railcard discount at every step.

Regarding the Prosecution Criteria listed on the GA website, they are listed as aggravating factors - it doesn't say they will only prosecute if those conditions are met:

Prosecution Criteria​

Greater Anglia regards the following as aggravating factors.
  • Previous conviction for similar offences.
  • Substantial revenue loss or offences persisting over a prolonged period of time.
  • Being previously warned for a similar offence.
  • When stopped and questioned failing to answer any reasonable question at the time.
  • Using abusive or threatening behaviour towards any person on the railway.
  • Any behaviour which is deemed to be anti social and fails within the Railway bye-laws.
They also mention the decision to prosecute:

Decision to Prosecute​

Greater Anglia recognises that any court conviction is serious and may possibly be life changing, therefore the decision to prosecute will only be made after careful examination of all the evidence and mitigation. Such a decision will be made subject to the satisfaction of the following criteria.

  • The evidence shows that a conviction is a realistic outcome.
  • Reliable evidence relating to the identification of an alleged offender.
  • Relevance and admissibility of the evidence available.
  • Reliable observational evidence of the alleged offender.
  • Reliability of any confession and admission, verbal or recorded in the authorised persons notes or report of ticket irregularities and byelaws offences statement.
  • Reliability of a Prosecution Witness.
If they look to prosecute under byelaw 18, which states "(1) In any area not designated as a compulsory ticket area, no person shall enter any train for the purpose of travelling on the railway unless he has with him a valid ticket entitling him to travel.", they will almost certainly succeed. By holding a railcard discounted ticket, without a railcard, you had no valid ticket. This is a strict liability offence - no intent is needed to prove this. If they have evidence that you held the ticket, didn't hold a railcard and did travel that's all that's needed.

I appreciate you made a mistake, but the odds aren't in your favour here really.
 
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Steve Turner

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Scroll the screen and watch the notification disappear never to be seen again my friend!!!

Try deleting a message on Whatsapp and see how many hoops you have to jump through to do it, now that is Consumer Protection, Trainline is certainly not.

So under the circumstances of no intent, no knowledge of an in valid ticket, an app that easily allows the a dormant railcard to be stored for potentially years, with virtually no knowledge of the user, no previous convictions, total compliance with the Revenue Officer, offer to pay, didn't jump over a barrier, didn't abuse any staff..............I went straight to prosecution before even submitting mitigation.

I don't pay for my train fares, the company does when I submit an invoice. I feel genuinely sorry for the customers out there who spend £1,000's on a what they describe as a poor service that keeps going up every year and then they get hammered for forgetting a railcard, or its out of date by a day, or they are allowed to travel by one member of staff and then stopped by another.

The moralistic argument that if people paid their correct fare and never made a mistake is very thin argument when used against some on here.....
 
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skyhigh

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Scroll the screen and watch the notification disappear never to be seen again my friend!!!
It stays there for me no matter how many times I scroll up and down. Even if it does go, I still count at least 3 other reminders in the booking process?
 

Steve Turner

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How did you manage to mistakenly add the railcard? What process would you have had to go through?
It stays there for me no matter how many times I scroll up and down. Even if it does go, I still count at least 3 other reminders in the booking process?
Thats interesting, what version of the app are you running?

How did you manage to mistakenly add the railcard? What process would you have had to go through?
If you inadvertently went into the add a railcard menu, scrolled through it with too much pressure, you can add a railcard. Once back on the home page the add a railcard text changes to a number 1. The railcard added is below it.....but it is concealed by the green FIND TIEMS AND PRICES button.

If you have a railcard, you may well know about this feature, if you don't and have no interest in it, why would you notice the add railcard text has disappeared and replaced by the number 1. They would be halfway there if the text changed to 1 RAILCARD ADDED, but it doesn't.

You need to understand that consumers are aged from 10-100 the app's consumer protection should cater for all abilities and not just someone who commutes on trains a lot and uses different railcards for different journeys.
 
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30907

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So under the circumstances of no intent, no knowledge of an in valid ticket, an app that easily allows the a dormant railcard to be stored for potentially years, with virtually no knowledge of the user, ...I went straight to prosecution before even submitting mitigation.
Unfortunately, train companies take the view that claiming a railcard discount that you are not entitled to is sufficient evidence on which to prosecute.

You use the word dormant - do you mean that you once had a Gold Card which you added to your Trainline profile? (I am not familiar with this particular app, but I assume it offers this facility, as many rail websites do).
 

alistairlees

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Thats interesting, what version of the app are you running?


If you inadvertently went into the add a railcard menu, scrolled through it with too much pressure, you can add a railcard. Once back on the home page the add a railcard text changes to a number 1. The railcard added is below it.....but it is concealed by the green FIND TIEMS AND PRICES button.

If you have a railcard, you may well know about this feature, if you don't and have no interest in it, why would you notice the add railcard text has disappeared and replaced by the number 1. They would be halfway there if the text changed to 1 RAILCARD ADDED, but it doesn't.

You need to understand that consumers are aged from 10-100 the app's consumer protection should cater for all abilities and not just someone who commutes on trains a lot and uses different railcards for different journeys.
Maybe you should provide some screenshots and state what phone model you are using?
 

Steve Turner

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It stays there for me no matter how many times I scroll up and down. Even if it does go, I still count at least 3 other reminders in the booking process?
If you are using an IOS then you can use the following method -

- Open the setting app
- select General - Iphone Storage
- Click on the Trainline app and the app version will be provided there

If you are using an Android then you can go to the Trainline app details in your device's settings option and provide the version info.
mine was running version 172 but it appears to have updated to 181. So 9 updates in a few months on an app that is perfect, very interesting...
 

CrispyUK

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Maybe you should provide some screenshots and state what phone model you are using?
Agreed, I’ve just played around with the iPhone version of the app and it behaves very much the same as the screenshots posted earlier, clear information about the railcard discount being applied at all stages, nothing disappearing and nothing concealed by the ‘Find times and prices’ button.
 

Steve Turner

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Unfortunately, train companies take the view that claiming a railcard discount that you are not entitled to is sufficient evidence on which to prosecute.

You use the word dormant - do you mean that you once had a Gold Card which you added to your Trainline profile? (I am not familiar with this particular app, but I assume it offers this facility, as many rail websites do).
If a railcard is added, but the routes booked for weeks or months are not applicable to that railcard, then it will stay dormant and unused for those bookings. If the user then books a route that is applicable for that railcard, then it will become active. That's fine if you knowingly put the railcard on your profile, but if you didn't , why would you notice any indications that it has now been added. Half of the those indications disappear doing the booking process.

Agreed, I’ve just played around with the iPhone version of the app and it behaves very much the same as the screenshots posted earlier, clear information about the railcard discount being applied at all stages, nothing disappearing and nothing concealed by the ‘Find times and prices’ button.
All good evidence because mine still does!!!

What version of the app are you running?


If you are using an IOS then you can use the following method -

- Open the setting app
- select General - Iphone Storage
- Click on the Trainline app and the app version will be provided there

If you are using an Android then you can go to the Trainline app details in your device's settings option and provide the version info.
 

_toommm_

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If a railcard is added, but the routes booked for weeks or months are not applicable to that railcard, then it will stay dormant and unused for those bookings. If the user then books a route that is applicable for that railcard, then it will become active. That's fine if you knowingly put the railcard on your profile, but if you didn't , why would you notice any indications that it has now been added. Half of the those indications disappear doing the booking process.


All good evidence because mine still does!!!

What version of the app are you running?


If you are using an IOS then you can use the following method -

- Open the setting app
- select General - Iphone Storage
- Click on the Trainline app and the app version will be provided there

If you are using an Android then you can go to the Trainline app details in your device's settings option and provide the version info.

How can you unknowingly put a railcard on your profile? It’s a good two clicks to just add a railcard, and you’re reminded about your railcard in several places before you book.
 

skyhigh

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Ultimately, GA have sent the matter to court now - no matter how you ended up with the ticket, you didn't have a valid ticket. You need to try and get the matter settled out of court, then you can take it up with trainline/GA if you feel you've been wronged.

From your post in the other thread, I assume GA have offered you a £150 settlement and you've asked trainline to pay that for you?

At this point, any issues with the app are pretty irrelevant. Get the prosecution dealt with first.

7 weeks, so If you don't contact the rail company until the letter arrives, do make a report on all the circumstances if relevant, because the delay in communication could be deemed as a tactic to allow you to forget.

No letter requesting mitigation only a SJPN despite dialogue with Prosecutions on the day of the event and since, amounting to 10 emails between us.

I'm sorry that Trainline stored a dormant railcard on its app which would have been avoided with a suitable Consumer Protection strategy.

I'm sorry that the Revenue Officer wouldn't accept double the money that was owed.

I have learned that the Trainline app can land you in court very easily.

I am awaiting legal advice upon whether to send the railway company my mitigation.......If they have heard my story before then they've got a problem because they are linked and associated with Trainline.

I have offered Trainline the opportunity to pay the £150 out of court settlement.

That being said if you have committed the points to prove of the offence and you have just forget to pay or whatever , then best to settle. I have been 110% compliant with the Revenue Officer and Prosecutions and all they have done thus far is escalate and escalate.
For reference, the post from the other thread.
 

Steve Turner

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The first screenshot is with no railcard added

IMG_4380.jpg


The next is with a railcard added. Note how the text changes to a no.1 only and no railcard name is displayed. Its concealed by the FIND TIMES AND PRICES banner




IMG_4381.jpg



It's only when you scroll the screen down does the railcard name become visible from being concealed by the FIND TIMES AND PRICES BANNER


IMG_4382.jpg



If you don't scroll down to reveal the concealed railcard, and why would you when there is a very big and bright button encouraging you to FIND TIMES AND PRICES, you are presented with the times and prices of trains. At the top of the screen it states there is a senior railcard added (I clearly wouldn't get away with a young persons one with you lot!!!)

That's fine because you want the 09:00 train and you can see it. Also the little oblong icons which look like an ID card are quite bold too..

IMG_4383.jpg



But you want a train from 10:00 onwards, so straight away you scroll down. The declaration of an added railcard disappears and never reappears if you scroll back up and even if you return to the home page and then select FIND TIMES AND PRICES again, it's gone for good. The sharper ones will also notice that the oblong ID card icon has now faded too, so any consumer protection to alert the consumer that a railcard could be added to this booking has either disappeared or faded. Yes there is mention of it later on, but if you are 30yrs old, add 40yrs to your age. If your 50yrs old I'll let you add just 20yrs and see how fair you think this app really is for ALL consumers across ALL abilities?


IMG_4384.PNG


If you have a different experience with your app, can you please send me the app version that you are running.

Ultimately, GA have sent the matter to court now - no matter how you ended up with the ticket, you didn't have a valid ticket. You need to try and get the matter settled out of court, then you can take it up with trainline/GA if you feel you've been wronged.

From your post in the other thread, I assume GA have offered you a £150 settlement and you've asked trainline to pay that for you?

At this point, any issues with the app are pretty irrelevant. Get the prosecution dealt with first.


For reference, the post from the other thread.
I do get that, this is not worthy of going to court over. GA have currently not complied with their own policies, however maybe serving the notice is their way of saying 'send over your mitigation and we'll see if we should just give you a warning...' but that's a very heavy handed way of dealing with this. GA can recall this case from the listing and adhere to their Prosecution Criteria stated on their website.
 
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_toommm_

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The app scrolling is interesting. I mean this with the greatest respect, but do you have your phone with a large text size or zoomed in due to accessibility settings?

I have an iPhone 11 Pro Max (6.5in screen), latest version of the app, and there’s more than enough room to show my Railcard discount:

(The screenshot is of TheTrainLine app, running on my iPhone):



146F7826-8194-4CA5-8594-CE0F76349430.png
 

Steve Turner

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The app scrolling is interesting. I mean this with the greatest respect, but do you have your phone with a large text size or zoomed in due to accessibility settings?

I have an iPhone 11 Pro Max (6.5in screen), latest version of the app, and there’s more than enough room to show my Railcard discount:

(The screenshot is of TheTrainLine app, running on my iPhone):


View attachment 96342
Well I never !!!

I am running an iPhone 8 with zoom on. With it off the railcard is now not concealed by the FIND TIME AND PRICES banner now matter how the screen is scrolled. However, the issues once on the TIME and PRICES page still remain so no one is out of the woods yet.
 

skyhigh

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I do get that, this is not worthy of going to court over. GA have currently not complied with their own policies, however maybe serving the notice is their way of saying 'send over your mitigation and we'll see if we should just give you a warning...' but that's a very heavy handed way of dealing with this. GA can recall this case from the listing and adhere to their Prosecution Criteria stated on their website
It's past that stage now. If they've sent a SJPN you have been charged with an offence and they're asking if you plead guilty or not guilty. Unless GA withdraw the prosecution, it will be dealt with by the court.

Are you sure you haven't accidentally previously bought tickets with this discount? GA are able to apply to the trainline for details of previous purchases. To be clear from your other post, have GA offered a settlement or not?

(Just so you're aware, I fully accept you bought the ticket with the discount unknowingly. I'm just trying to be realistic with what's happening and the position you find yourself in as things stand.)
 

Steve Turner

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It's past that stage now. If they've sent a SJPN you have been charged with an offence and they're asking if you plead guilty or not guilty. Unless GA withdraw the prosecution, it will be dealt with by the court.

Are you sure you haven't accidentally previously bought tickets with this discount? GA are able to apply to the trainline for details of previous purchases. To be clear from your other post, have GA offered a settlement or not?

(Just so you're aware, I fully accept you bought the ticket with the discount unknowingly. I'm just trying to be realistic with what's happening and the position you find yourself in as things stand.)
They have offered the £150 + £6.50 fare settlement. This can just go away within the 21 days if I pay it, so I have control over that. The point is the SJPN should not have been issued in the first place. It does not fit with their published policies but they will have an opportunity to withdraw it.

Its a bit like a Police Force declaring that they operate a 10% + 2mph leeway on speeding and then you get a ticket for 64 in a 60 just because they legally can.
 

furlong

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So what argument are you making? That due to the behaviour of the app, the 'valid only with railcard' contractual term the company is relying on is not present or unenforceable i.e. the contact for travel that the railway formed with you on that occasion was valid without requiring the possession of a valid railcard? Is there a counter-argument that later on you would have seen that a railcard was required? Or is the argument that a prosecution would be an abuse of process (by reason of the contribution of the app's design, or the company not following its published policy or some other reason)?
 

skyhigh

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They have offered the £150 + £6.50 fare settlement. This can just go away within the 21 days if I pay it, so I have control over that. The point is the SJPN should not have been issued in the first place. It does not fit with their published policies but they will have an opportunity to withdraw it.

Its a bit like a Police Force declaring that they operate a 10% + 2mph leeway on speeding and then you get a ticket for 64 in a 60 just because they legally can.
Personally, in your position I would pay the settlement and then take up the issue with trainline (as you do have a valid point regarding the app when zoom is on). If it goes to court on the basis of byelaw 18, I can't see how you'd not be found guilty and get a fine that's larger than the settlement. But that's just my opinion.
 

Steve Turner

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Personally, in your position I would pay the settlement and then take up the issue with trainline (as you do have a valid point regarding the app when zoom is on). If it goes to court on the basis of byelaw 18, I can't see how you'd not be found guilty and get a fine that's larger than the settlement. But that's just my opinion.
There are two points to prove, the Officers statement just about meets the threshold, but her grasp of the English language is poor and a damming indictment to the professional standard of a law enforcement department such is Revenue Protection.

Sadly, GA nor the court will be worried about that.

I won't take this to court because even with the glaring errors (the statement of facts isn't complete on the court declaration part of the SJPN) I don't want to risk a criminal record over something so so trivial.
 

furlong

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If it goes to court on the basis of byelaw 18, I can't see how you'd not be found guilty and get a fine that's larger than the settlement. But that's just my opinion.

High-quality legal advice and representation ought to be sought if there was to be any attempt to challenge a situation like this and it could be expensive particularly if expert witnesses and higher courts need to get involved, but without speculating on the likelihood of any of the alternative outcomes beyond the word 'unusual', the first approach might amount to the railcard requirement not being present in the specific contract or the relevant term being struck out, leading to the ticket in fact being valid, and the second might amount to saying without some specific failure within the railway's control the offence would not have occurred so a prosecution should not be entertained. Another result might be a conviction with sufficient mitigation for a discharge with no fine or costs. These approaches might require disclosure by the railway of internal documentation regarding the design, testing, accreditation and legal compliance of the app, something the prosecution might be unwilling to see examined.

Leading to that last point, you (or more usually your lawyer) might already be asking the app developer to accept that the app behaviour did not conform to (what? design? accreditation? testing? legal compliance?), and that you require access to all relevant documentation to assist your defence.
 

Steve Turner

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So what argument are you making? That due to the behaviour of the app, the 'valid only with railcard' contractual term the company is relying on is not present or unenforceable i.e. the contact for travel that the railway formed with you on that occasion was valid without requiring the possession of a valid railcard? Is there a counter-argument that later on you would have seen that a railcard was required? Or is the argument that a prosecution would be an abuse of process (by reason of the contribution of the app's design, or the company not following its published policy or some other reason)?
I'm sure the answer you seek is in there somewhere.....but I'm up to 13 messages now and have been assisted by those with far more.
 

furlong

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For example, you might want to know from a document search whether any testing had looked for or spotted any problem similar to this one, something that says "the customer might unwittingly not be sold the ticket they thought they were buying" and then see what action was or was not taken to prevent this sort of shortcoming putting customers at risk of breaching the law.
 
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ashkeba

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I'd settle the court case first. Then, making it easy to sell invalid tickets to people who need the zoom function sounds like disability discrimination, so you may have a case against trainline that might recover your losses.
 

jumble

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There are two points to prove, the Officers statement just about meets the threshold, but her grasp of the English language is poor and a damming indictment to the professional standard of a law enforcement department such is Revenue Protection.

Sadly, GA nor the court will be worried about that.

I won't take this to court because even with the glaring errors (the statement of facts isn't complete on the court declaration part of the SJPN) I don't want to risk a criminal record over something so so trivial.
Good call although from what you have written you may find they have interpreted your disputing as being not willing to accept the £150.00 settlement ( obviously cant be sure without seeing all correspondence verbatim )
I wonder why you have not shared screenshots of your payment screens for a dummy transaction since if you did we would all be better able to see if there was any genuine reason for you to be confused.
If you dont share these screenshots with Trainline I would expect them to toss your complaint into the nearest dustbin
 

Fawkes Cat

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I wonder why you have not shared screenshots of your payment screens for a dummy transaction since if you did we would all be better able to see if there was any genuine reason for you to be confused.
Try post #14 above.
 

londonteacher

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However, the issues once on the TIME and PRICES page still remain so no one is out of the woods yet.
It remains on my screen. You can see from my screenshot that I have scrolled down.

Surely this becomes an argument as to how far back should devices be supported? You have already said that the zoom was on which makes it a user modification to the device. Can trainline be expected to ensure that their app works in all possible circumstances on all possible devices?

In my opinion, the answer to that is no. You could then argue that well I want to access the website on a Windows 95 device. Should they accommodate that?
 

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