"Unpaid Fare Notice" Greater Anglia

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GeoBa92

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Hi everyone, I'm a new member and hope someone can help.

(I've copied and pasted some parts from another forum which I initially asked for advice from before some members referred me to here, so tenses may not be 100% :) )

I ordered advance tickets on the 26th January to depart from Bristol Parkway to Norwich which departed on the 7th February for a University Interview.

The first stretch of the journey, the First Great Western service from Bristol Parkway to London Paddington which left at 10:31 and was due to arrive at 12:00. Unfortunately however, the train was delayed just outside of Royal Wootton Bassett for almost two hours due to a "signal failure" which apparently "wiped out almost all signals west of Swindon".
I asked the train manager what I should do due to me having a ticket for a train from Liverpool Street to Norwich specifically for 13:00. The train manager told me to just board as normal, explain the situation and should be fine because it wasn't a fault of my own why I was late, and added that I'm eligable for a refund because the delay was over 60 minutes. I eventually got into Paddington approximately 13:30.

I then got the Underground from Paddington to Liverpool Street which went fine.

I then waited for and boarded the 15:00 Greater Anglia train to Norwich. The conductor came past at around 15:40 to check the tickets. I tried to explain my situation to her, but she was quite unsympathetic, rude and was making me out to be a flat out fare dodger! I asked if she would be able to cotact Bristol Parkway station or First Great Western to confirm there was a signal failure but she said that she wasn't prepared to do that and then told me I had to pay for another ticket and then claim it back at a later date. I didn't have much cash on me so she said she would invoice me in the form of an Unpaid Fare Notice for £58.70 and that I had 21 days from issue to pay or I would be "prosecuted".

I went on the website and some of the information on the notice has been filled in very badly, some of my details have been filled in wrong (postcode) despite her having my driving licence to copy from. Also, the Unpaid Fare Notice has a 'GU' number which is five numbers long but on the appeals website it was saying at the time that it needed to be seven numbers long, and the "Authorised User No" entry at the bottom was filled in completely illegibly.

The IRCAS sent me a letter on the 1st March 2012 to say I now owed £88.70 (£58.70 for the ticket itself; £30.00 'administration' fee). I tried to appeal at this stage, due to the Fare Notice Number being readable. I sent my apeal no problems and the dispute was temporarily suspended, pending enquiries.

Now, I've had a letter through from the IRCAS, saying I still owe £88.70 and demanding I pay within 14 days of the date of the letter (19th March), which I received just today of all days. My appeal has not been considered due to being outside the deadline.

I'm now thinking what to do?

Also, I have a letter from First Great Western from when I retrieved a full refund from them which states the date, time and the nature of the incident.
 
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AlterEgo

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Am I correct in assuming you held one through ticket between Bristol Parkway and Norwich?

If this is correct and you were indeed delayed, then the UFN has been issued wholly incorrectly.

Pay no money. Write to Greater Anglia's customer relations team and send the letter recorded.

If you held separate tickets then the situation is less clear and we need to know exactly what tickets you had. I'm sorry I can't reply at more length but I'm on a mobile device.
 

GeoBa92

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Am I correct in assuming you held one through ticket between Bristol Parkway and Norwich?

If this is correct and you were indeed delayed, then the UFN has been issued wholly incorrectly.

Pay no money. Write to Greater Anglia's customer relations team and send the letter recorded.

If you held separate tickets then the situation is less clear and we need to know exactly what tickets you had. I'm sorry I can't reply at more length but I'm on a mobile device.
It was one ticket (Bristol Parkway to Norwich), but had two seat reservation ticket things with it (Mandatory Reservation Coupons). They were Advance tickets as well.
 

bignosemac

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You were on a through ticket, the delay was not your fault. Greater Anglia are wholly wrong on this one.

It would appear that you encountered a poorly trained Train Manager on the London - Norwich leg. People like this shouldn't be doing the job if they can't be bothered to corroborate a passengers story. There are far too many rail staff who have the default position that the passenger is always trying it on. The vast majority aren't. Asking you to pay there and then and claim back later or face prosecution is tantamount to demanding money with menaces. I'm glad you didn't pay a penny at the time. You'd've had a nightmare trying to claim this money back, despite it being incorrectly taken off you.

Don't pay a penny to IRCAS. Write to Greater Anglia's customer relations explaining the delay. Your correspondence from First Great Western may help as evidence of your delay, although GA should be able to check that themselves. The rail industry has enough pen-pushers dealing with delay attribution and delay compensation. Greater Anglia should cancel the UFN forthwith and call off IRCAS.
 

RPI

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Like what the other posters have said, if it was one through ticket then you should not pay a penny and indeed take it up with GA customer services and may be worth writing to FGW customer services as they will be able to give you evidence to provide to GA or may write to GA themselves.
 

yorkie

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Some comment has been made about the significance of this being on one ticket. I do not believe there is much significance, as even if 2 tickets were held, then you would still be covered, providing the conditions of the tickets were met, and there was sufficient interchange time. There used to be some people arguing with me that the railway was not obliged to honour two or more tickets for one journey however this was clarified in the 'Advance Fares FAQs'.

Nevertheless, the fact it was one ticket does simplify the issue a little and mean that we do not need to spend any time considering minimum interchange times or anything like that.

Absolutely do not pay any money.

IRCAS are an awful company; keep writing to them and Greater Anglia.

If you want to take it to a newspaper (some people do; many don't) you'd have a story that many papers should be interested in, people have been backed up by the press when technically in the wrong, and had the UPFN dropped, but you are 100% in the right.

No charge should be made from you and FGW should pay you compensation for the delay (you mention a refund; do you mean compensation?).

I would be asking some very serious questions of NXEA/Greater Anglia and asking when suitable training will be provided to their staff.

I would be happy to proof read any letter you wish to write and would be happy to phone them if you can provide me with full details.
 

DaveNewcastle

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I agree.
That Unpaid Fares Notice should not have been issued and you should not have been pursued for payment (though without IRCAS having received your explanation, then we can't really blame them for doing their job).

I'd also advise writing back to Greater Anglia refuting the charge; but if you do also write again to FGW to ask for their clarification and confirmation of the delay, then I'd suggest enclosing a copy of that letter along with your refutation to GA plus an invoice for £30 to cover your administrative cost in arranging for the 2 companies to communicate with each other. (They may not pay it, but it will probably escalate the matter to someone who will want to respond more accurately and effectively).

Its regrettable that Rail Operators don't always work in a coherent manner when they should, and so by escalating even such a minor matter, it is possible that a responsible Manager will take action.
I did hesitate in responding while considering whether to advise you to write directly to GA's Commercial Director with copy to Passenger Focus and the Rail Regulator (with the same reasoning, neither will take any additional action, but it may improve their performance in training staff for the future). That action would not reduce your prospects of success, but it is more work for you (though if you've been busy typing posts on here and elsewhere then perhaps that comes easily to you!), but its probably fair to give GA one more chance.
Just one more, though!
If they don't oblige this time, you'd be able to take legal action with excellent prospects.

Hope this helps.
 
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MarkyMarkD

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I tried to appeal at this stage, due to the Fare Notice Number being readable. I sent my apeal no problems and the dispute was temporarily suspended, pending enquiries.
It is unfortunate that you attempted to wriggle out of the demand on a technicality, when in fact there was no case to answer! If you had explained the situation properly in your first response, perhaps things would have been resolved by now.

But as the others have said, you have an absolute right under the National Rail Conditions of Carriage to travel on the next available train, if you miss a connection due to delays on an earlier service, and the issue of the UPFN was incorrect.
 

AlterEgo

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Some comment has been made about the significance of this being on one ticket. I do not believe there is much significance, as even if 2 tickets were held, then you would still be covered, providing the conditions of the tickets were met, and there was sufficient interchange time.
It was of some significance as the OP had a cross London transfer. Depending on the type of ticket held for the Tube (or even if the Tube was used at all rather than, say, a cab) would have made a difference to the technicalities of the case.

As it is, this is simply awful service in clear breach of the terms and conditions of Advance tickets. "If delays occur while travelling, you will be allowed to catch the next available train(s) to make your journey". It really is as simple as that.

IRCAS are a joke - I'll say no more.

As I and others have said - part with no money.
 
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