Transferring tickets

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by neilmc, 13 Nov 2011.

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  1. neilmc

    neilmc Member

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    I work for a large UK company whose name I will not disclose for reasons which may become apparent.

    This company have locations throughout the UK and, until a few years ago, if you were traveling on business to another location they would issue an Anytime ticket (or at the time "Standard Return") automatically via an in-house travel department.

    When they woke up to the extent to which TOCs, particularly those who operate long-distance services into London, were fleecing the business traveller, they brought in a specialist provider, and now the following rules are in place:

    a) no first class travel irrespective of seniority
    b) try to travel off-peak wherever possible
    c) if you need to travel peak, book at least one direction on an advance ticket
    d) use railcards, special offers, etc where possible - I know of one "whizz kid" senior manager who travelled on a Young Person's Railcard until very recently!

    Anyway, the upshot is that lots of people order Advance tickets to London which, as meetings sometimes get cancelled, cannot be returned so they appear on the company's internal website as available free to anyone else who might be planning such a journey.

    Is this legal? After all, the individual did not actually purchase the ticket themselves but ordered it from the travel agency, and the person who actually uses the transferred ticket doesn't "buy" it either but just saves waste.
     
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  3. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    No, it's not strictly legal. But if the person using the ticket is employed by the same firm that the ticket was originally bought on behalf of, I'd say that there is little chance of anything happening. If questionned (in the unlikely event) then all the company has to say is that the ticket was originally bought for that person. If the ticket was ever advertised publicly then there might be more of an issue.

    I am not a lawyer and this is my personal opinion of what is likely to happen.
     
  4. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    This has been discussed several times, perhaps most recently in the Train tickets on EBAY, Is it possible to swap/give/sell tickets and Refunds? topics.

    The general consensus is that the TOCs do not appear to mind tickets being swapped in person among friends/family/within an organisation but the condition that tickets are not transferable must exist because without that, it would legitimise someone buying all the cheap tickets on the day they go on sale and putting them all on eBay - I think we can all agree that would be very bad for TOCs and very bad for customers!
     
  5. scotsman

    scotsman Established Member

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    Does the passenger hold a ticket indicating the correct fare has been paid? Yes.
    Does the ticket require a railcard, and do they have it? Yes/No as appropriate.

    End of story. It is very unlikely anyone will ever check further than that. Ever.
     
  6. John @ home

    John @ home Established Member Fares Advisor

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    I don't think it is always not strictly legal.

    I think a useful parallel is in the guidance issued by government departments to those organising travel on behalf of the department. This indicates that the purchase is made on behalf of the Secretary of State, as the controlling mind in the department, and is made not for any particular individual to travel but for any representative of the department to travel.

    A large company may well adopt a similar approach.
     
  7. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    I agree with John @ Home and will expand on his interpretation.

    If the ticket was bought by a Company (in the pursuit of its business activities or any related travel purpose) then the prohibition on Transferring the ticket would apply if it were transferred to another legal-entity (such as another Company or individual). But I cannot see how it would be considered to be a 'transfer' if it is used by an employee or Director of that Company who is pursuing those business activities, and who may even be acting under instruction from the Company.
    In this circumstance, I do not believe that the ticket is being 'transferred' but rather that it is being used by the Company who bought it. It would be immaterial if the reason for the Company's travel on a particular date was to change, just as it is immaterial if a personal ticket holder still travels on a ticket bought previously for a purpose other than the purpose they had in mind when they'd bought it.

    This explanation suggests that the alternative user may still be travelling on Company business and therefore I cannot see that it amounts to a 'transfer' from the legal entity for whom it was bought: the Company.
    If, however, they were offered on the website for staff to use for personal and leisure purposes, then I would not be so confident in considering that it did not amount to a prohibited 'transfer'.
     
  8. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    This is a sort of grey area.

    The travel provider is acting as an Agent for the Company, and thus is authorised to accept and agree to the NCoC/Byelaw requirements on behalf of the traveller on that basis. Because the ticket is bought on the basis that it is to be passed to a person within the organisation, then that is legitimate.

    Whilst selling the ticket would be against the law, until the ticket is "issued" to a person, then again technically it has not been supplied.

    All that said, there is no intent to evade the fare, and the person to whom the ticket is being passed is within the same Company so I doubt anyone would be worked up over it, especially as the travel provider is required to supply details of the conditions of use to the end user.

    The prohibition on ticket transfers arises from the fact that a person who buys a ticket for use by themselves enters into a different form on Contract to that when something is purchased from a supplier. The terms and conditions cannot be assigned in this particular case, however the Law as altered to permit a "agent" to purchase a ticket on behalf of a person they are specifically representing, and the Law assumes that the Agent is given the appropriate authority to accept binding terms and conditions.

    Think of it a bit like authorising someone to bid at an auction on behalf of another. A person who buys a ticket with the intent of using it, and then transfers it to another party is not, and will not be, regarded as an Agent

    Although this might seem to be somewhat arbitrary, in the event of an accident causing death or serious injury, a transferred ticket removes considerably the grounds upon which a passenger may make a claim, as they technically have no ticket. Believe me that this does happen and at any major accident, the BT Police will usually end up charging one or sometimes more people who are fraudulently claiming to have been on the train and injured as a result of the accident.

    The TOCs will also undertake their own investigative work against all claims, which is why I always obtain a receipt, and pay by card wherever possible as it provides absolute and indisputable evidence that the ticket is mine.
     
    Last edited: 14 Nov 2011
  9. Wyvern

    Wyvern Established Member

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    Surely you need to book in advance for both directions. If a walkup single on the way back is nearly the same price as as a walkup return you haven't really saved anything.
     
  10. Matt Taylor

    Matt Taylor Established Member

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    On long distance fares the single is generally half of the return fare. The general purpose of this rule is to prevent season tickets being passed around among friends etc and particularly to prevent ticket touts from operating. In the summer I passed through Brixton station and during the evening rush hour there three or four guys were very blatantly trying to buy used travelcards off returning commuters which they would then sell on at a profit. It is a known fact that money from re-sold tickets and travelcards frequently ends up in the hands of criminals and in particular drug users, it is for that reason that the condition exists.
     
  11. LexyBoy

    LexyBoy Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Only for Anytime fares! Off Peak fares are usually the same price for a single as a return.

    As you say though, the reason the rule exists is to stop touting, not to prevent tickets being transferred within a company (or between family members and friends - though this is officially forbidden).
     
  12. snail

    snail Established Member

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    Not only that, but in the latter case it is highly possible the 'free' tickets could be regarded by HMRC as a taxable benefit-in-kind if it is a regular practice.
     
  13. moonrakerz

    moonrakerz Member

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    I think you are getting the purpose of the journey and the purchase of the journey mixed up here.
    The traveller is travelling on behalf of the Sec of State, therefore the purchase of a ticket to enable him to do this is authorised.

    The would-be traveller does then buy the ticket for himself - using a warrant issued by his department. The warrant also has the travellers name on it.

    The rail company accepts the warrant in lieu of money which they later reclaim from the Govt dept.

    So legally, the person who buys the ticket actually uses it.
     
  14. neilmc

    neilmc Member

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    Thank you for that, I thought it might generate interesting discussion. Basically the company is seeking to avoid paying out for Anytime returns to London, so if you are travelling for a meeting for which you know the time, an advance single on the outward journey will cut the cost to some extent.
     
  15. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    It is dififcult to say whether it will or not, it does depend on the location of the company, and where travel is usually to (e.g. London), then the flow could be analysed and it may well be the case that this strategy works well. But it does not work well in all situations for all flows. However I won't go into examples as I realise that wasn't the main purpose of the topic and we'd be talking hypothetically!
     
  16. Magicake

    Magicake Member

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    So, purely as a matter of interest, would it be technically legal for the person for whom the ticket was originally bought to use it for personal use or would that be transferring it from the company to them?
     
  17. Liam

    Liam Established Member

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    A few times I have offered my travel card to others in the tunnel from kings cross st pancras tube to kings cross station, just by holding the ticket in my hand somewhere infront of my shoulder. People seem to realise what I am doing, and that I'm not asking for any money out of it. Only that I am finished with it, but there may still be a few hours left on the ticket. Same as if I have bought a parking ticket for 1 or 2 hours, but only stopped for 15 minutes I will offer my ticket to some one else if anybody is nearby. I was once given a return portion of a Glasgow Edinburgh ticket at Waverley when I was in the queue at the ticket machines, the guy said he had asked for a single, but was given a return and had no need for it so was giving it away.
     
  18. island

    island Established Member

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    That's illegal.
     
  19. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    That is absolutely illegal and you're lucky that the police/Underground staff haven't found you doing it!
     
  20. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    I remember when the GLC's 'Fares Fair' policy was introduced in the early 80s it became almost the norm for people to offer one of the newly introduced Travelcards to arriving passengers at mainline terminals when they had finished with it themselves.

    Not sure if it was illegal in London back then, but interestingly the current South Yorkshire day ticket equivalents, valid on all modes including trains, are transferable and, indeed, used to be actively marketed as such.
     
  21. neilmc

    neilmc Member

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    So has anybody actually been prosecuted for giving away a ticket?
     
  22. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I have destroyed tickets from customers in the past who are giving away tickets in the ticket hall and advised them that they should not be doing it. I have also requested a police officer confiscate a ticket from someone who took it from someone loitering in the ticket hall.
     
  23. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Please do not do this as it assists the dodgy characters who operate in the King's Cross area and funds illegal activities (and what you are doing is also illegal too).

    Unfortunately some drug dealers attempt to get tickets from people like you (although they can approach anyone, whether people offer them tickets or not, they will ask you!) they will, of course, pay nothing for the ticket. But they will then sell the ticket on at a profit to others. I once had the satisfaction of annoying one of these individuals at King's Cross by answering "yes" when he asked me if I had finished with my ticket, took the ticket out of my wallet, and ripped it up :lol:
     
  24. island

    island Established Member

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    I've seen RPIs do that as well. Cue very annoyed MOP saying "but I paid £5 for my travelcard and you want another £8?"
     
  25. Indigo2

    Indigo2 Established Member

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    This seems like a very contentious issue. I don't know London that well but I see this sort of thing going on in Berlin all the time. Although I have never seen one of the "second-hand ticket dealers" actually *buy* a ticket off someone - as far as I know they are always freely given away. When money changes hands it's a different kettle of fish of course and I would be extremely wary of ever buying a used ticket from one of these people.

    But (questions of illegality aside) I don't see any moral problem with giving a ticket to them; it seems to me equivalent to you throwing it in the bin and them fishing it out again. If someone is desperate enough to lower themselves to loitering around a station scrounging used tickets off people, then the way I see it is that they must need the money and if it costs me nothing to help them out then why not? Who am I to make a moral judgement about what they are going to do with the proceeds?

    And from what I've seen drug dealers are very *unlikely* to need the money! They are the unconspicuous-looking ones, wearing nice clothes and "normal" looking. The people dealing in used tickets are much more likely to be drug addicts, trying to scrape together a few pounds. They're not going to magically become unaddicted and not need the money just because I don't give them my used ticket! They will get it somehow, perhaps through more serious crime if used ticket dealing becomes no longer lucrative.

    Certain people will always have various mental health and social issues and will end up addicted to drugs. So the way I see it, the drug dealers and criminal gangs are always going to end up with the money anyway. Nothing I can do as an individual can stop that; there is a market there for their services. Only decriminalisation/regulation of proscribed drugs can change that, and that is a matter for the government. But if I can potentially prevent more serious crime happening by giving away my ticket, then I see it as a positive contribution to society overall.
     
  26. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The question is though, are they going to stop committing more serious crimes just because they get some freebies from people who give them their used travelcards so that they can make a few bob from it?
     
  27. Indigo2

    Indigo2 Established Member

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    It depends on the people of course. I suppose, maybe I'm not really qualified to comment as I don't know who these people in London are or what they look like. It could perhaps be more sinister than what goes on in Berlin.
     
  28. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    Or use the travelcard in making their getaway?
     
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