Travel on earlier train than booked

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

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  1. Max

    Max Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I'd hardly say these comments have earned support mind.
     
  2. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    That situation is the basis for many complaints.

    If you do not succumb to the passenger's demands no matter how unreasonable, you are a jobsworth, have no customer service skills and are rude, etc, etc. Because they are annoyed they will then complain.
     
  3. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    It is the fact that the comment was made at all which concerns me. It only needs one person to 'report' such things, which would then surely be investigated by the TOC, and the guard concerned is likely to act differently next time, even if they were cleared of any wrongdoing.

    No one wins in such cases, except the person who wants no discretion to be applied whatever the circumstance.
     
  4. richw

    richw Established Member

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    I recently had to return from Paddington to Cornwall on the 180? instead of the booked sleeper service, due to a family emergency. I seeked out the TM, who told me in no uncertain terms that i may travel, but i must not sit on a seat if there was anyone standing in my carriage. He also said if he caught me in a seat when there was people standing he'd chuck me off at the next station! I felt this was a fair compromise and good discretion. i'd of loved to write to FGW to express praise for the said TM's service but was worried it may get him in to trouble for showing good discretion.
     
  5. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    I understand your reticence, but I do think we're getting silly when we fear for the repercussions of praising someone!

    There is no reason for you not to write with your praise.
    There's also no reason for you to specify the date, the time, the service nor the personnel. But when you have something good to say, then please say it.
    PLEASE!

    Remember, there is at least one passenger on here who will write in complaint against discretion being shown against a third party. So at best, all you may do is redress the imbalance. Do it!!!
     
  6. richw

    richw Established Member

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    How do they know the TM in question to pass on positive comments, or does it get displayed on a notice board for all staff to see, and obviously the TM in question will recall that it is about him?
     
  7. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    It is not just an emotional response. Guards/Train Manager's must apply the rules, and whilst it is appropriate to show discretion when necessary, they mustn't be the "softy softy" type.

    There is no pressing reason for a Train Manager to allow to OP to travel on an earlier train - "I finished early" is not a pressing reason - and if a Train Manager did do that they should, in my opinion, be reported. The rules must be applied fairly to all, including the rules of Advance tickets.

    This is a bit of a needless argument though, as I can guarantee that a Virgin Train Manager will not do that. So I'm not planning on reporting one! :lol:
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    No, I will not write a complaint about discretion being shown against a third party. I will write a complaint if a Guard/Train Manager is allowing people to avoid paying the appropriate fare for their journey for trivial reasons. (But, as I have already said, that will not happen - at least on Virgin - so there is no point arguing about it.)
     
  8. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    ALR would you report Virgin staff who have Standard Class travel facilities, who sit in First when not strictly entitled?

    Or the guard for letting it happen, because someone waved their ID and said "is this alright with you mate?" with no pressing reason?

    If so, you have a lot of letters to write! ;)
     
  9. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I hope that you said the above tongue-in-cheek. Otherwise I will suggest that you will not have an idea of the whole picture as to why the TM showed discretion so it is unwise to report him/her.

    Same as above. How will you know whether the reason is trivial or not?

    I do hope that this is a non-event as you said.
     
  10. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    I think he was serious bb21...
     
  11. SWT_USER

    SWT_USER Member

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    @ALR, I have personally seen a Virgim TM let passengers travel on an earlier train with advance tickets, probably about a year ago on an early Saturday morning service from Euston to Manchester. Lightly loaded train and if anything frees up abcouple of seats on a later service which is more likely to be busy..
     
  12. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    Regarding discretion, I have applied it in the past, the passenger wrote in, and I got a letter from the then Chief Exec saying well done!

    In FGW we are given a large amount of latitude as TM's. Indeed, I have known people to be pulled up in the past for "not being flexible enough".

    However, the borderline between "using your discretion" and just saying yes for a quiet life is quite narrow at times, and telling the deserving from the non-deserving is quite an art.

    My starting point if someone comes up to me on a platform with an Advance ticket is to say I will charge them the difference between the walk-up price and the cash already spent, plus £10 (as per T&C if a booking office is approached). This I feel is only fair to the relatively large number of people who DO go to the booking office.

    Emergencies like dying grannies etc are usually taken with a VERY large pinch of salt! If it is that much of an emergency, then most reasonable people would pay anything to get home. Body language and general observation also helps with this. Someone who is genuinely upset / distressed / worried can be easily spotted, someone standing there chewing gum with suitcase after a trip - probably lying. It is common enough for the "emergency" not to be that urgent when told that £10 more will be required.

    Someone saying "I thought the TM could use discretion" after being told they will need to part with more money usually gets the reply "I can, but you haven't told me anything that makes me think I should apply it yet", and will probably be staying on the platform.
     
    Last edited: 12 Sep 2011
  13. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    Well said, Dave. There was nothing wrong in KentonCanary trying to find out if they could use their ticket on an earlier service, or change the booking. The only thing I disagree with is them calling the guard 'Attila The Hen' and describing them as curt.

    I agree. The only complaint I ever received as a booking clerk was because I could not refund a ticket that the passenger didn't have possession of. I then became obstructive and rude in the complaint. Depsite the fact that I informed the customer six or seven times that I would happily refund the unused ticket once he had retrieved it from his friend.

    This is the real difficulty. Yet one poster deems themself more capable of being able to do this than trained and experienced railway staff!

    All Line Rover, you have made some controversial posts, but I think that saying you will report a member of on train staff for exercising discretion just about takes the biscuit!
     
  14. WelshBluebird

    WelshBluebird Established Member

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    As much as travelling with FGW does seem to get on my nerves (whenever I travel with them I near enough always get delayed!), I will say I have certainly noticed this. Yes, sometimes you will get the odd TM / guard who will not do anything to help people, but those are quite rare in my experience. Most FGW staff do seem willing to help, and there have been a few times where I have been hugely helped out by them (be it through taxis when technically they could have just told me to wait for the next train, holding trains, etc).
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    The question is what do you class as trivial, and what do I class as trivial?
    Personally I would say a family member dying is not trivial, but Flamingo has already said he thinks people would pay anything to get home so may not allow it (on that note, it is easy to say that people would pay anything, but many people simply can't afford to, that is why they would have got an advance ticket in the first place).
     
    Last edited: 12 Sep 2011
  15. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    It is more that the number of sick grannies who have to be visited by people who do not seem in the least distressed, and decide that granny will survive a few more hours when told they may have to pay a relatively small sum (maybe only £10-15) and possibly change their ticket from 1st class to Std class, leads one to be a wee bit doubtful as to whether Granny is sick at all...
     
  16. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I am quite shocked that we actually have a member on here who would report staff for showing discretion of all things. It strikes me as being petty, immature, unhelpful and downright pigheaded that they think that it's any of their business as to whether a TM/Guard shows discretion and the reasons that they do so.
     
  17. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    Still if I had gone to the booking office and forked out £20 + to change mine and the Mrs tickets, and then had somebody sitting across the aisle from me being allowed to travel because they gave the guard some BS and the guard took the easy option, I'd be pretty annoyed.
     
  18. snail

    snail Established Member

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    I see no problem in asking. If it causes no difficulties, and doesn't deprive anyone of a seat on either train then what's the issue? Should they really be saying you have to sit in your cheap AP seat on a later train because someone that could have booked had to pay more and may be upset?

    I have had discretion shown to me by Virgin TMs on more than one occasion. Normally when it's been my fault for not reading the departure boards correctly at Preston and getting on a train to Lancaster that doesn't actually stop there - last time there were at least 9 of us sheepishly explaining to the TM at Oxenholme what had happened (the non-stopping train was delayed and left around the time of the one that normally stops), and she let everyone travel back for free. Would you have reported her for that?
     
  19. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    I don't understand why everyone is so shocked. :roll: As a customer who abides by the T&C's of Advance tickets - and who has occasionally waited up to 5 hours for their booked train - I have the right to be annoyed if a guard or TM shows "discretion" to someone because of trivial reasons. Trivial = "I finished early."

    I have never been shown discretion on the basis of "I finished early" because I have never asked, and I do not intend to ask. I wait. Also, I have never seen a Virgin TM show discretion to someone on the basis of "I finished early." I'm not saying it doesn't happen (I'm sure it happens occasionally), but I've never seen it and do travel with Virgin quite frequently!
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    No, of course not. It was a genuine mistake - discretion is more than appropriate. It would be ridiculous for someone to report a TM for showing discretion in such circumstances!

    What annoys me is those who have the cheek to ask to travel on an earlier train just because "I finished early." (As the OP was planning on doing.) It is fare evasion - you don't have a valid ticket. (Even though, I know, I know, there isn't a problem if the guard has given permission! I think...)
     
  20. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    It is not fare evasion whatsoever!

    Any "authorised person" may allow someone to travel without a valid ticket.

    That includes most employees of the Railway.
     
  21. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    No, it isn't. That isn't just a differing opinion, that is factually wrong.
     
  22. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    Because you rinitial post states:

    Your attempt to justify your actions by putting the final sentence in does not work. You are still stating that you would report a member of staff for exercising their judgement and discretion if you decide that the request was trivial.

    In other words, your judgement is superior to a trained and experienced member of staff in deciding what action should be taken on board. What exactly makes your judgement so much better?

    It's entirely your decision whether or not to ask whether you may be allowed to travel earlier. Just because you don't wnat to does not mean that no one else is entitled to. Nor does it mean that if someone is given such permission that the member of staff should be reported as if they have committed some sort of crime.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Quite right ralph.
     
  23. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    I know it's "technically" not fare evasion. But to any ordinary member of the public who pays the correct fare for their journey, the following situation...

    • Customer: "Hi. My meeting's finished three hours early. I have a ticket for the 21:10. Would I be able to hop on this train (19:40)?"
    • Train Manager: "Yeah, sure. It's very quiet anyway."

    ...looks an awful lot like fare evasion! The Train Manager shouldn't be doing such a thing for a start, and the customer (who has a complete cheek in my opinion!) is "evading" having to pay the correct fare for their journey.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Please care to read what is in the brackets...
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I would be most unlikely to report what happened at Birmingham, because I do not know the full circumstances. But I would definitely be minded to report a Train Manager who accepted the OP's request! :roll:
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Also, if you are saying that any "authorised person" may allow someone to travel without a valid ticket, that could mean that a Train Manager could "give permission" for a fellow member of staff to travel for free. I know this happens a lot (and I'm not commenting on whether it is appropriate or not) but I doubt management would be happy about it!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 12 Sep 2011
  24. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    @All Line Rover: I think one of the reasons why people are so shocked at your stance is that you haven't thought through the implications of your action. So you write in and complain; VT agree that the TM was wrong so they haul him/her in and give further training; TM also tells others what has happened and/or management re-iterate the rules. What do you think happens next time that a TM is asked to show discretion? This time it might be a case that you feel is appropriate but the TM is paranoid about another black mark. It really is a slippery slope and it would be good to see you agree that perhaps your comment was made in haste and won't be carried through.

    Also, admirable though your stance of never asking for discretion is, you really are shooting yourself in the foot by not asking. What is the worst thing that can happen? The TM might say no. But, as has been pointed out already, you might actually be doing some people a favour by filling a seat on a much quieter train and allowing someone else to use yours on a busier one.
     
  25. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    So you have decided unilaterally that the TM should not be doing this?

    What is the so called 'correct fare' that the person should be paying?

    Is it just the early meeting finish that annoys you? If the passenger made up some other reason, would that be OK?

    How would you know if the person was being honest with you?
     
  26. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    If someone was to do a Change of Journey instead (assuming both fares paid were equal) and the admin fee of £10 was waived on request, is that fare evasion too??

    :roll:

     
  27. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    Why? As MikeWh has asked, what do you gain? I suppose you assume that you are doing Virgin a favour by protecting their revenue?

    Yet that same TOC, like others, may have issued guidance to staff on showing discretion. They may allow their staff a lot of leeway, like Flamingo has said that FGW do.

    You know nothing of their itnernal briefings or guidance, yet you presume to question professional staff judgements by way of reporting them to their superiors? I am truly mystified by such an attitude.
     
  28. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    When you put it that way, you're quite right - so no, I won't be reporting anybody! (To be honest I can't be bothered anyway.) I'd still be annoyed, though, if someone gave the "I finished early" excuse and it was accepted!

    I do not think it is appropriate to travel on a train without a valid ticket, even if the guard has given permission for me to travel. I doubt I'd be doing someone else a favour, as people who wish to travel early usually have a ticket on a later, cheaper and quieter train.
     
  29. richw

    richw Established Member

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    I believe it should entirely be up to the TM, normally you can tell if it is a genuine reason for needing to get somewhere early. e.g. if someone has died, or really ill then the passenger is clearly going to be distressed.
    Flamingo i agree that someone would be willing to pay if it was an emergency, however what if they have no means. someone may of saved for months to afford a few days in a London for example. They're on min wage, earn £150 a week, they cant afford the walk up fare, but perhaps could afford the £20 advance single. you could be the difference between seeing their really ill relative, and being too late.
     
  30. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    Oh no, of course not - charging £10 for that is plain theft on the part of the TOC! :lol: (The worst one is charging £10 for the 1 minute it takes to make a seat reservation. :roll:)

    I'm not saying that discretion shouldn't be shown. I'm not saying that I would go and report someone for showing discretion, as the annoyance of a "I finished early" excuse would probably subside once I reach my destination. ;) (Even though I would never accept such an excuse if I worked for a TOC!) But at the same time, the rules of the railway must be applied fairly and equally to all - no matter how harsh they may be. Is that a good thing? No, but nothing will change unless the railways are made more "passenger friendly," which means not trying to penalise everyone who makes a mistake, or who has a change of circumstances.
     
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