Virgin easement on Off-Peak tickets with Senior Railcard

Status
Not open for further replies.

Welshman

Established Member
Joined
11 Mar 2010
Messages
2,798
I referred to this matter about 3 weeks ago in another thread title, but in view of what happened this morning, I raise it here with its own thread title.

Again, my wife decided to travel to London this morning from Rhyl on the 0549Virgin train, a Virgin train throughout and direct to London Euston, with her Senior Railcard.

She only decided about 10pm last night to travel, so, contrary to what I said earlier about booking her a ticket online and picking it up from the station beforehand in future, she had to resort to buying it again on the train, as the TVM and booking-office in Rhyl are both situated in the entrance hall, which does not open until 0620, 30 minutes after her train has departed

Again, she asked the conductor for an Off-Peak return with her Senior Railcard, expecting to pay £51.35p, and, again, the conductor initially refused to sell her one. Again, she had to argue with him in front of all the other passengers, and, again, she stood her ground. Eventually, he rang his Headquarters, and with bad grace, sold her the requested ticket. Again, there was no apology - just a surly comment "You must buy it in advance next time" - which is blatantly incorrect as it is a "walk-up and go" Off Peak ticket and not an Advance one.

She is getting tired of having to tell the conductor about this easement and having to argue in front of the other passengers. She is also tired of being patronised when the conductor realises he is in the wrong and tries to justify himself by giving her incorrect information. She may have a Senior Railcard, but she is not senile.

So - another email has been sent to Virgin Customer Care to join the last one of three weeks or so ago complaining of the very same thing - ie incorrect training and briefing of their conductors.

You may remember after the last time, I emailed Virgin, asking for something on headed notepaper confirming this particular easement, as I can find nothing in writing on their website or publicity material - an easement of which the knowledgable ATW man in Rhyl booking-office is aware, and happily sells the ticket [when his office is open!], and of which the East Coast website is also aware and will sell me with no problems, and from where I would have bought it last night had she had access to the Rhyl TVM this morning. It's rather ironical that both ATW and EC are aware of this Virgin easement, but some Virgin staff themselves do not appear to be.

However, I don't hold out much hope of any reply to this second email to Virgin, for, apart from the computer-generated automated announcement, I've yet to receive a reply to my last one!
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

First class

Established Member
Joined
9 Aug 2008
Messages
2,733
It sounds as though the issue is the ticket office/TVM at the station. The guard will know full well about the easement, but may not be familiar with opening times of the booking office/availability of the TVM. By ringing his control room, he can obtain station opening details.

If a TVM or ticket office is available, you couldn't buy the "cheap" or "discounted" tickets on board.

It does look as though the TVM is always accessible though, even if the window is closed.

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/sjp/RHL/images/photos/800/o2873-0000038.jpg

If the TVM is available for use then your wife was extremely lucky.
 

Mcr Warrior

Member
Joined
8 Jan 2009
Messages
936
If you pick up a copy of the current Virgin Trains "Tickets & Fares" leaflet, it states, within Section 6 (Travelling in the Off-Peak)

"...if you hold a valid 16-25, Senior, Family & Friends, HM Forces or Disabled Railcard and have used it to purchase your Off-Peak ticket, you can actually travel at peak times on most Virgin Trains services (restrictions on certain services may apply)."

Anyone know what these exceptions are?!
 

Welshman

Established Member
Joined
11 Mar 2010
Messages
2,798
No - sorry, LM, - that is not the issue.

We are both frequent rail -travellers, and are well-aware of the need to buy a ticket beforehand from the booking-office or TVM if we wish to purchase off-peak or other discounted tickets - from experience and reading this forum!

No - this is the second time this has happened, and the issue is with lack of knowledge on the part of the conductor, and a certain arrogance when they are found to be in the wrong.

That 0549 has been running for at least the last two years and the booking-office has been closed until 0620 for longer than that. Conductors on that route should be aware of booking-office opening hours by now! It's not as though this was a one-off and the booking clerk was ill and failed to turn-up.

Regarding the TVM still being accessible when the Booking-office is closed, your picture of the said machine does not show that the barriers are immediately to the right of the TVM and the platform doors about another 2 metres to the right of them. Likewise the entrance doors are about 3 metres to the left of the TVM. When both these sets of doors are locked, access to the platforms is via a side-gate at the Bangor end of platform 1 and there is no way the TVM can be accessed.
 
Last edited:

aformeruser

Veteran Member
Joined
23 Jan 2009
Messages
30,637
Just checked validity on the £51.35 Saver ticket with a Senior railcard according to the ATOS Origin booking engine and it is shown as valid on the 05:49 and 06:53 direct trains but is not valid to change at Crewe, boarding the 07:17 Crewe to Euston service.
 

All Line Rover

Established Member
Joined
17 Feb 2011
Messages
5,011
If there are no ticket-buying facilities at the station, you are entitled to purchase the full range of tickets on-board the train. No "arguing" should be necessary.

I am surprised at the behavior of the guard, as all of my recent guards have been excellent. However, Virgin do have one or two "bag eggs," who seem to know everything. :roll:

Send off a letter for Virgin, asking for, as you say, as headed letter confirming the easement. I would also ask for compensation, as this is an unacceptable situation at a station such as Rhyl, which is served by a number of Virgin trains - especially in the early morning. If you do not receive a prompt response, give them a call and they will usually speed up their reply.
 

Welshman

Established Member
Joined
11 Mar 2010
Messages
2,798
P.S.

Thank you, Mcr Warrior - that is helpful. I'll certainly look-out for that leaflet.

Also, All Line Rover - your comments are appreciated.
 
Last edited:

aformeruser

Veteran Member
Joined
23 Jan 2009
Messages
30,637
I would also ask for compensation, as this is an unacceptable situation at a station such as Rhyl, which is served by a number of Virgin trains
I agree especially considering an Anytime ticket is over £100 more than an Off-Peak Return. With a lot of people £100 could make the difference between their current account being in credit and it being overdrawn.
 

Welshman

Established Member
Joined
11 Mar 2010
Messages
2,798
Just checked validity on the £51.35 Saver ticket with a Senior railcard according to the ATOS Origin booking engine and it is shown as valid on the 05:49 and 06:53 direct trains but is not valid to change at Crewe, boarding the 07:17 Crewe to Euston service.
The ATOS Origin booking engine knows that, the ATW clerk at Rhyl knoes that, the EC website knows that, you know that, my wife knows that and I know that.

Pity about the Virgin conductor this morning!
 
Last edited:

dggar

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2011
Messages
449
The issue here seems to me to whether the ticket machine is accesable at all times of the day or only when the ticket booking office is open.

If it is only available when the ticket office is open then there should be standing instructions to staff working trains that call at Rhyl outside the availble time to make it clear that the ticket machine is not available.
 

aformeruser

Veteran Member
Joined
23 Jan 2009
Messages
30,637
The issue here seems to me to whether the ticket machine is accesable at all times of the day or only when the ticket booking office is open.

If it is only available when the ticket office is open then there should be standing instructions to staff working trains that call at Rhyl outside the availble time to make it clear that the ticket machine is not available.
Good point. I was thinking of the ticket machine being accessible when the ticket office is closed, which seems to be the case with most stations but it may not be the case with Rhyl.

EDIT: The original post does state that TVM is inaccessible when the ticket office is closed, I missed that.
 

yorkie

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
6 Jun 2005
Messages
47,469
Location
Yorkshire
Again, she asked the conductor for an Off-Peak return with her Senior Railcard, expecting to pay £51.35p, and, again, the conductor initially refused to sell her one. Again, she had to argue with him in front of all the other passengers, and, again, she stood her ground. Eventually, he rang his Headquarters, and with bad grace, sold her the requested ticket. Again, there was no apology - just a surly comment "You must buy it in advance next time" - which is blatantly incorrect
I'd consider sending a letter along these lines:

"Dear Virgin Trains Customer Relations,

I arrived at xxx station at xx xx, the ticket office was closed and there was no machine available, so I boarded the xx xx Virgin service to xxxxx, and requested to purchase an Off Peak Return with a Railcard to xxx priced at £xx.xx and, to my surprise, I was initially told that I would have to pay a higher fare of £xx.xx for an Anytime ticket. After the conductor contacted Control, he did sell me the ticket I asked for, but gave me instructions to purchase "in advance" next time.


Can you please confirm if the advice I was given was correct? If so, how far in advance should I book, and by what method? I only decided to travel at short notice; it was my understanding that purchasing this ticket was acceptable on board, is this not the case?


If the guard is correct I would like to know what the rules are so I know where I stand for future journeys.


If the guard is not correct, can I ask that suitable training is given, and can you give me a date by when this training will be completed?


I usually enjoy travelling with Virgin Trains and I am keen to remain a regular customer in future, so any reassurances you can provide would be most welcome.


Kind regards,


xxxx
"

Virgin need to be contacted when such incidents occur, as otherwise the bad TMs will continue to be bad, they will continue to put people off rail travel, continue to overcharge people less assertive than you and your wife, and they will continue to be rude and surly. We must not allow that to continue.
 

DaveNewcastle

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
21 Dec 2007
Messages
7,397
Location
Newcastle (unless I'm out)
If your letter really has already been sent, then I will not suggest you change your actions as the advice above from Yorkie is perfectly appropriate.

However, if you have not yet sent it, and anticipate that your wife (or anyone else in your family) may find themselves in this situation in the future, then I suggest you also include your initial suggestion of clear documentary authorisation : "I emailed Virgin, asking for something on headed notepaper confirming this particular easement". If you also referred to the leaflet which Mcr warrior mentioned (and which I think I have not seen) and asked for the letter to substantiate the authority of that leaflet and to attach a copy, then I believe you will then be in posession of a vital document.

It will be a letter from a Revenue Manager, confirming the conditions attached to their tickets, and providing a robust support for your (or your wife's) travel.

BTW I'm ambivalent about the benefits of repeating your phrase "She may have a Senior Railcard, but she is not senile.". Most Senior Directors in the industry will qualify for a Senior Railcard (and would be shocked at the suggestion that 60 years implies senility) whereas many routine office staff probaly assume that all over 60s are senile. Its an unhelpful reference.
 

Welshman

Established Member
Joined
11 Mar 2010
Messages
2,798
Thank you very much, Davenewcastle, for that very helpful advice.

I didn't write to Virgin immediately as I was so angry, and decided I should calm down and think about it first! Hence I made no comments about "Senior" and "senile"

I did write later, though, on seeing Yorkie's suggested format, and virtually copied it, word for word.

However, this is the second time this has happened in a matter of 3 or 4 weeks, and I wrote then, asking for something on headed notepaper from Virgin, and am still waiting for a reply. I shall also certainly seek-out the leaflet Mcr Warrior refers to the next time I'm in Manchester or Crewe - Virgin doesn't have too much publicity here in ATW!

But your comments and suggestions are much appreciated.
 

All Line Rover

Established Member
Joined
17 Feb 2011
Messages
5,011
Virgin can take a while to respond - up to 2 months in some cases. But, as I said previously, a quick phone call will usually speed up their response.
 

Mcr Warrior

Member
Joined
8 Jan 2009
Messages
936
Received. Leaflet should be with you in the next day or so. Apologies that I'm not able to scan same. (Hopefully someone on here might be able to).
 

dggar

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2011
Messages
449
Just as an aside here,
what is the position of a passenger who shows up at a station where the booking office is closed and there is only One ticket vending machine installed and that machine is out of order.(Power failure , network connection failure, vandalism etc.)
 

First class

Established Member
Joined
9 Aug 2008
Messages
2,733
Just as an aside here,
what is the position of a passenger who shows up at a station where the booking office is closed and there is only One ticket vending machine installed and that machine is out of order.(Power failure , network connection failure, vandalism etc.)
If the ONLY machine is out of order and there is no PERTIS/Ticket Office/Staff selling tickets then you can buy on board without any penalty.
 

aformeruser

Veteran Member
Joined
23 Jan 2009
Messages
30,637
If the ONLY machine is out of order and there is no PERTIS/Ticket Office/Staff selling tickets then you can buy on board without any penalty.
Also applies if the only ticket machine is cash only or card only and you want to pay by cash/card, assuming you aren't intending to pay by Visa Electron or Solo.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top