Travel on earlier train than booked

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by gooses, 27 Aug 2011.

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  1. gooses

    gooses Member

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    My other half is booked to travel on the 21:51 from Euston to Stockport tomorrow evening, officially arriving into Stockport at god-awful-o'clock (hopefully a little earlier though as it's set down only from Stafford onwards). However, she reckons she's overestimated the time she needs to get to Euston so is likely to be there very early. Do forum members have any advice about who to speak to *very nicely* and unofficially about having the endorsed for travel on an earlier train? The fare in question is an AP 1st class - and all services from the 19:20 onwards are still selling said fare this evening for the same cover price that hers cost. In all likelihood she might only make the 21:25, but anything would help. Of course, worst comes to worst she'll hole up in the lounge - but a head start would be great!
     
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  3. SS4

    SS4 Established Member

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    Short Answer: No

    Long Answer: Yes, but she'd have to pay the difference between fares (£0 in this case) and a £10 admin fee.


    As usual it's up to the guard's discretion but I wouldn't bank on it and certainly would not hop on board and hope for the best!
     
  4. gooses

    gooses Member

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    Know all about the £10 fee - this ticket is already a rebooked fare from a while back when I managed to miss the train but call the web sales centre before it departed to rearrange it! Was looking for a solution that was cost free ;)


    Not banking on it. But you think a guard rather than someone working on station is a better bet?
     
  5. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    It would be at the discretion of the guard. If there is a barrier check, ask if the guard is present and ask the guard, they're usually one of the ones checking, I think. Though if asked in the presence of other staff they may have to be seen to be "by the book".
     
  6. gooses

    gooses Member

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    So take out all the other staff at the barrier, then smile sweetly and ask politely?
     
  7. LondonJohn

    LondonJohn Member

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    When your other half gets to Euston head for the platform and if there are no barrier checks or even if there are barrier checks, something along the lines of I wonder if I would be able to get this train as that will mean that my boyfriend will be able to pick me up before he starts his night shift as opposed to getting a taxi if I arrive at xxxx. See if that works.
     
  8. KentonCanary

    KentonCanary Member

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    My daughter and I had a sort of similar situation at Birmingham New Street a couple of years ago. We had been to Walsall for the football to see Norwich play and the match was called off at 2.15pm due to a frozen pitch. We had tickets back to Euston on a train around 6.00pm, leaving plenty of time to get back from Bescott and grab some food.

    As the match was called off we arrived back at New Street around 3.30pm, and asked one of the Virgin guards if we could board an earlier train than we had booked. The response I received was very curt and we were advised in no uncertain terms that my sort was costing the railways money.

    Undeterred we went back to the ticket offices to ask them if we might swap the tickets for an earlier departure. A little wiser after my confrontation with Attila the Hen on the train, we specifically looked for a middle aged woman wearing a wedding ring who was behind one of the windows, the thinking being that she might have a child of the same age as my daughter (aged 11) and be sympathetic to us.

    I walked up with the tickets and a £10 note visible asking what it might cost to catch an earlier train, explaining that the game had been called off. (I should mention that I was willing to pay something, but wasn’t sure what it might cost).

    And Bingo! Tickets changed free of charge, but she did apologise that we might not have reserved seats.

    So thanks to the lady in the Birmingham New Street ticket office.
     
  9. jetice

    jetice Member

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    I am a middle aged guard with a wedding ring and I would not have let you on...I would have referred you to the booking office if you had time and there was one to see if it could be changed. This is purely because it is not fair on others who may have wanted to get an advance either for the train you wanted to get on or for the train you should have been on and the fact that you could have opted for a more flexible ticket to start with. There are plenty to chose from ....Advance are purely for people who are happy to abide by T&C's of that ticket...if you are not don't buy them! Obviously I do make some exceptions in extreme circumstances but if we all let you off with catching any old train whenever you felt like it then everyone would buy advance tickets and they railways would come to a grinding halt! Everyone has an excuse which is relevant to them. They are a quota ticket to fill seats that would otherwise be empty...use them correctly cos if you don't they may well get withdrawn for being more trouble than they are worth! Just for the record, before I did this job I would never have dreamed of attempting to catch a train that I was not booked on as had more respect for authority...therefore I would always buy a ticket for which I knew I could keep to T&C's of. Why is it only in the railway industry that people buy a ticket, then when it doesn't suit their purposes somehow it is our fault for being horrid and not letting them travel on the wrong train with it? Do you all not try to do your job to the best of your ability? How would you feel if I demanded to see you for an appointment at an earlier time than booked and just barged in? Or demanded to have an operation a day earlier? it wouldn't happen would it ...so please do not accuse us of being unreasonable for doing our job properly! As stated before if a real and genuine emergency of course we will make an exception to the rule as I have on many occasions.
     
  10. londonbridge

    londonbridge Member

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    I was on my way to the football once,one of my regular travelling companions joined the train at Peterborough,we had advance tickets for the train back after the match (mine back to London,his to Peterborough obviously). We were in between York and Darlington when he got a call from his wife saying their son had been injured in a road accident and taken to hospital. He got off the train at Darlington and said he was going to take the next train back to Peterborough and dodge the guard as necessary. When I next saw him he said he'd managed to avoid the guard,but had he simply explained to staff at Darlington what was happening he probably wouldn't have had any problem with being allowed to travel on the next available train.
     
  11. Max

    Max Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I don't think the KentonCanary accused anybody of being unreasonable or demanded anything, and it seems to me that you have posted a rather unnecessary rant to what was a story of facts. It also seems like KentonCanary was willing to pay to change the ticket and, if not, simply abide by it's terms and conditions if discretion wasn't shown. It was always worth a try, there was always a minute chance that they might come across somebody with better customer service skills than yourself! ;)

    What do you define as 'extreme circumstances'? Surely this definition varies between staff?
     
  12. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    I'm sorry but I do not agree with what went on at the Birmingham New Street ticket office (or what the OP plans on doing), as it defeats the whole purpose of Advance tickets, deprives the railways of revenue and is unfair on the majority of customers who stick to their booked time.

    If you find out that you will arrive (or have arrived) much earlier than anticipated at the station - tough! Either be prepared to cough up or do something for a few hours before your booked train (there are PLENTY of things to "do" in London - even in Birmingham :lol:).

    Now if a large football match or something similar was cancelled early, and the TOC decided to let everyone with Advance tickets travel on earlier trains, I'd have no problem with that as it would be a nice gesture of goodwill. But to think "if I give the guard a smile perhaps he'll let me on early" is absurd. I would be very, very, VERY surprised if a Virgin Train Manager allowed someone with an Advance ticket onto an earlier train, and if I ever caught a TM doing so, I would report them. (Depending on the circumstances, of course.)

    I have spent FIVE HOURS at Glasgow Central waiting for my booked train - I accepted the fact that I could not travel on an earlier one. I just spent a few hours going round Glasgow, and sitting in Waterstones and Costa Coffee (the Glasgow Waterstones branch has a very nice Costa Coffee ;)). I have absolutely no sympathy for others in similar circumstances.

    EDIT: For the record, if I had been the TM on that Virgin train, I may have allowed you to travel - particularly if it was very quiet - thinking "look at this poor lady and her daughter, stranded in the horrible city of Birmingham. ;)" What annoys me is those who think that they can ask willy nilly to be allowed to travel on an earlier service!

    Moderator Notes: I have crossed out certain parts of this post as it causes confusion and unnecessary misunderstanding as to the OP's attitude on this matter. I think the OP has been clear in subsequent posts (37 and 58 in particular) that he has no real intention to report any member of staff, in fact.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 12 Sep 2011
  13. NSE

    NSE Established Member

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    What's the harm in just asking? The chap had all the tickets and stuff, I'd always ask. At worst you'll be made to travel on your train home, at best an earlier one. He wasn't trying to get a 300 mile trip for free in first class, just the journey he'd paid for abit earlier! :P
     
  14. Max

    Max Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I think that's a rather petty thing to say. As they say, if you don't ask, you don't get. Obviously it is crazy to expect that you will be automatically let on an earlier train with an AP for whatever reason you feel like. But, in every industry, you will get people who are lenient with the rules and those who enforce them strictly. After all, we are not robots - we all act in different ways. It is perfectly understandable that KentonCanary had a go at getting the tickets changed, I think that's just human nature. And they got lucky. Perhaps if you had asked at Glasgow, you may have found somebody who was willing to do the same. But you were already resigned to the fact that nobody was going to let you by the sounds of it.
     
  15. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    You know it's a shame more people don't take this sort of advice sometimes. How funny would it be if everyone decided that they can't risk their plans changing so they'll need maximum flexibility. Now how much does that cost? Walk-up train ticket on the day - ooh, better book a meeting with the mortgage advisor first. Petrol in the car - yes, that's more like it.

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoy ultra cheap train travel like the rest of us, but TOCs have gone too far. Walk up tickets on many journeys are too expensive so they lose much of the "it's a nice day, let's go out" business. Perhaps if they cut the price of walk-up tickets and increased advances a little they'd find they actually had fewer empty seats to fill in the first place.
     
  16. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    Why..?
     
  17. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    In fairness to jetice, when I did period of travel on VWC some time back, it became very obvious that rather than being an isolated occurrence, travelling or attempting to travel outside the validity of an Advance Ticket is a very common occurrence.

    Much of it is to do with the fact that people want to pay the cheap price and expect the Railway to meet their side of the deal, but not in reverse.

    We see this occur even on here on a regular basis - people want to sign up to special deals but actually then want to do something different.

    As jetice rightly pointed out it only appears to be the Railways where people expect that terms and conditions of a ticket offer can be flexed to suit whatever particular requirement the passenger has. Naturally a failure to do so then results in the Industry being tarnished with unjustified criticism.

    Whilst being sympathetic to a degree, I perceive that there are a goodly proportion of passengers who deliberately buy the cheapest most restrictive ticket with the whole intention of using emotional blackmail/argument as a means of travelling on a train where there would be a substantially higher fare payable, if indeed the ticket was actually available for travel.

    The Industry is in a no-win situation, let them travel and watch revenue fall ultimately as word gets around, or apply the rules and be criticised.
     
  18. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    Because it annoys me if people have got the cheek to ask to travel on an earlier service! They should abide by the rules like everyone else.

    Whilst a Train Manager should just discretion where appropriate (and that's why I said "depending on the circumstances"), they shouldn't allow people to travel without a ticket just because "they asked politely." It doesn't really matter, though, as I doubt that any Virgin TM would do such a thing. ;)
     
  19. jetice

    jetice Member

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    The inference was in on KentonCanary's post that the guard should have bowed to their wishes and they were nasty for not doing so and that they then went specifically looking for a certain type of person who would be more likely to give in to them ie 'middle aged with wedding ring' I was merely pointing out that not all middle aged folk with wedding rings who work on the railway are that easily swayed! The ticket change at the BO should have generated a £10 upgrade charge and only changed if advance tickets still available on the service the passenger intended travelling on! I am not going to state what I feel are exceptional circumstances or the less scrupulous will be using them to try to get on earlier/later trains LOL! It is not a case of me not having good customer service skills either it is a case of being fair to everyone...if you had to pay the full fare and were standing on a busy train and the person next to you got on the last seat and you found out they had only paid an advance fare and not for the train they were on would you be happy? If we let people off they try it on again and again and it is only by being made to pay full fare that they will learn not to try to defraud the system for that is what they are doing.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Thanks
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    In those circumstances I would probably have let him travel if he had asked before travel but would not have looked kindly on him for deliberately trying to avoid me but would still have let travel but asked him to speak to guard first in future!
     
    Last edited: 11 Sep 2011
  20. island

    island Established Member

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    Well put!
     
  21. londonbridge

    londonbridge Member

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    I did suggest to him at the time he should try asking the guard before boarding by the way.
     
  22. Tav77

    Tav77 Member

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    Not train related, but a couple of years ago I went up to Glasgow for the day for a football match.

    I had to travel from London with Ryanair and back with Easyjet due to flight times required etc.

    I was booked home to Gatwick, but arrived at airport well before the last Luton flight (a lot nearer to home), so went to the ticket desk in hope. I was advised that had I travelled with Easyjet up to Scotland then I could have transferred free of charge but as I had not then it would be £130!

    I waited until 10 minutes before final check in and asked to speak to a supervisor, explaining the situation and that the person on the desk had been very helpful etc, she advised me the same.

    As I said to her though, it seems ludicrous that a customer is willing to pay £50 extra (for that is what I had on me at the desk) to the company to go on a flight that isn't full, and with 10 minutes to go isn't going to get full, yet gain no more from making me stay an extra 1 1/2 hours at the airport.

    I wasn't fussed, just gave me time to have a pint and some food, which I would have ended up buying on the plane so more revenue lost!
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I have the same problem this week. I'd like to go from London to Leicester for the cricket, and can get a fare for £44 coming home at just before 7pm which is ok if there is a whole days play, but if it over by 2 or 3 pm, I'm stuck.

    I cannot afford the £100+ fare so won't be going.
     
  23. Max

    Max Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I'm not sure where you have got this from. KentonCanary stated that the guard was 'curt'. Just because somebody is abrupt does not mean that you disagree with them.

    Well obviously they were lucky in this case!

    As far as I'm aware, the £10 is actually discretionary and can be waived (although it is upheld in most cases).

    No, I agree, but from what the poster has written the train was not full and standing and common sense prevailed. I recently travelled on Eurostar from Lille to London as part of a longer journey from Strasbourg. I was booked on a Eurostar service two hours later, on a train specific ticket. However, I thought it was worth asking whether I could travel on an earlier service. After consulting how busy the train was, the staff allowed me on without question. The train was virtually empty so it had no impact on anybody. Had the train been full, I would not have expected to catch the earlier train.

    Nobody 'defrauded' the system though. The change of ticket was obtained by the correct method - through the booking office. The poster was just fortunate that the person did not charge them for the change.
     
  24. dvboy

    dvboy Established Member

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    If the train isn't busy, and the ticket price would have been the same, what harm is done?

    The only time I've asked to travel earlier than booked was on an LM from Liverpool-Wolverhampton after a meeting finished early. The guard was fine with this request as the train was pretty quiet.
     
  25. NSE

    NSE Established Member

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    Yeah, I agree. I feel I should clarify that of course the guard's decision is final and no customer should expect the rules to bend for them. But i certainly don't see the harm in asking.
     
  26. SS4

    SS4 Established Member

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    Oi! :lol:
    Besides KentonCanary could have stayed in Walsall :). Perhaps the same will happen this year now Norwich are in the lofty heights of the premiership ;)
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Couldn't have put it better myself.

    Of course. The harm in asking is that you're wasting the guard's time. You individually may not be but what if you had a dozen people asking? And how many of those would just accept an answer they don't want to hear?
     
  27. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I don't think they'll get much criticism for that here on this forum, to be fair.
    But I still can't possibly condone reporting a guard for that :(
    Asking for discretion (whatever you think about it) isn't defrauding. On the other hand, I think I would be justified in saying that Southern Railway Ltd defraud passengers on a daily basis on the Gatwick Express, and that is defrauding by the definition in my opinion. (see other topics for details). So, TOCs do defraud customers on some occasions. Yes, customers also defraud TOCs, but asking for discretion isn't such an occasion.
    Now that seems fair and reasonable, and deliberately avoiding could well be seen as defrauding.
    The railway doesn't want your custom. The trains will probably be full anyway, so I agree that is probably the best decision than risking it.
    There's nothing wrong with that. No defrauding has taken place (and if anyone says otherwise, well frankly they are wrong!) and at the end of the day it's up to Eurostar if they want to show discretion or not.
    Agree totally. People should respect the guard's decision when asking for discretion, whatever the decision (and they shouldn't complain about the guard's decision either, IMO that's just wrong. There are so many more worthwhile things to complain about, but not that).
     
  28. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    Are we seriously at a point where a member is advocating reporting guards when they show discretion and try and help someone out?!

    You really can't win.

    The solution to that is just to apply the rules the same to everybody. No discretion, no exceptions.
     
  29. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Apparently, but (s)he did then go on to explain their justification for this formal approach, which was "Because it annoys me", so I think we can disregard that as an irrelevant emotional response, can't we?

    This topic comes round quite frequently, in various guises and beginning with different specific circumstances, and each time it does come round, the replies seem to quickly polarise into two camps:-
    1. the try-it-on because the system is unfair and/or why should I suffer opinions, and
    2. the Advance Tickets are a very specific and low-cost product with their own limitations which passenger must remain bound by if they choose that product.

    I don't expect there is anything on those two extremes which hasn't been said ad nauseum on here already (though to be fair to newcomers, some of those old debates may be hard to find among all the other stuff in these fora).

    But I do make a lot of time to look at some of the middle grounds, and I believe there is a lot of middle ground, which is NEITHER an opportunist trying to have it both ways, NOR an inflexible railway rule or employee exercising unreasonable rules for rules' sake.

    I am happy to put this thread's original question firmly in the middle ground. The passenger was early (not late as a consequence of inadequate planning, so no 'fault') and the proposal was simply to ask if they may be conveyed (no harm in asking even if the answer is likely to be 'no'); no sob story about hospitals and self-important attitudes. Its a fair question for the holder of an Advance and expresses a neutral attitude. I might ask such a question myself, particularly if it was to travel before the peak and my Advance was for travel during the peak. I'd also not be dissapointed if the answer was 'no'.

    There have been a few other enquiries about Advances which have also merited a more 'open minded' approach on here. Its perfectly possible to be fully aware of the conditions attached to an Advance and to be fully prepared to buy a replacement ticket (or to wait) if there is a change of plans, without being exploitative of the Conditions or Offers and without being critical of those working on the Railway. Perhaps the two clearest examples would be the current question of asking to be conveyed early and of stopping short.

    It is. And its a regrettable situation. Its not my assessment that the industry is entierly blameless, though. The Regulatory framework is very culpable.
    Privatisation and fragmentation led, inevitably, to competitive pricing, and the restriction of Regulation to only the more flexible fares led to very very cheap Advances. My personal opinion is that the differential between Advances and the variations of Off-Peaks is so wide that it distorts the market and, more importantly, distorts public perception (at the risk of going off topic, it is barely possible to spend an hour in central Newcastle without seeing a dozen huge billboards or bus adverts announcing the £15 Newcastle-London fare on EC. People may suspect that there are higher fares, but it would never become apparent that the unreadable small print refers to a never-seen Anytime price of £143 until they are inspected after boarding the wrong train).
    I want to be more sympathetic to front-line staff who have to deal with the framework they are given, but until the Regulator and DfT change the parameters, I cannot be as sympathetic to 'the Industry' as I am to its staff.

    Anyway, I must rush. I want to report my postwoman to their employer for handing me my junk mail as we passed and chatted in the street. I will try to ensure that they become unemployed ASAP.
     
    Last edited: 11 Sep 2011
  30. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    Well, indeed.

    Most people, I think, would feel it appropriate that guards etc should be empowered to use discretion in appropriate circumstances. However, if established members of a forum such as this are advocating reporting people for showing discretion, then anyone showing discretion really can't win.
     
  31. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Only one member (out of 110 members logged in right now / 786 members active in the past 19 hours) has advocated that, and I will make it my mission next time I see him to convince him otherwise!
     
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