What excess have I just been sold?

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arb

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I should prefix this question by saying it's just to satisfy my curiosity - I don't have any problem with the tickets I've actually been sold, which I'm sure will cover me for the journey I want to do. And given that the journey is on expenses, I'm not overly bothered by the cost either :)

I've just bought tickets to let me do a day return from Cambridge to Sheffield on Wednesday. Because I'm travelling on expenses, I didn't really do any research into the prices beforehand myself - I just walked into a ticket office and asked for the quickest journey at the appropriate times.

Having got home and looked at the tickets in detail, I'm now curious as to what I've been sold. I've got an Anytime Return, route via Ely, costing £84, which is to be expected, because the outward journey is in the morning peak. For the return journey, I was told there were no convenient connections via Ely at the time I wanted to travel (departing Sheffield at 7pm), so I've been sold an excess, ticket type "X/S ALT RTE SGL", route "Not Via London", to let me travel via Stevenage, costing £11.80.

Having now looked up various prices online, I'm confused as to what this excess actually allows.

The cost of an anytime return routed Not Via London is £185, so I'd naturally expect the excess to be half the difference of the route Ely ticket: (185-84)/2 = £50.50, so I clearly haven't been sold this.

An Anytime Single Not Via London is £92.50, so if it was this, I'd expect this excess to have only cost £8.50.

Finally, an off-peak return routed Not Via London is £107.70, so I'd expect this excess to be (107.70-84)/2 = £11.85. This is pretty close to what I've actually paid (£11.80), but isn't exactly right. Also I can't see anything at all on the excess to say that it's only valid at off-peak times. If this is what I've been sold, how would I be expected to know that it's off-peak only? What would happen if I travelled at peak times with it?

Continuing down the line of off-peak tickets, there's also a Super off-peak return Not Via London, which is only £67.40. As far as I can see, this is valid at the time I actually want to return (7pm), so why have I been excessed to off-peak instead of, I guess, a zero fare excess to the super off-peak? In fact, now I think about it, should I have been sold this ticket originally and then had the outward half excessed to the Anytime via Ely, costing (84-67.40)/2=£8.30?

I'd be grateful if anybody could clarify (or even hazard a guess at) what I've been sold, and what I would be allowed to do with it if I wasn't actually tied to the 7pm departure time for the return half of the journey?
 
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island

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I think I agree that it is an excess to half the price of the NOT VIA LONDON ticket and the price has been rounded down.
 
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arb

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So is it common for an excess that changes the validity times of a ticket to not show that information anywhere on the excess? I'm curious to know how I'm supposed to be aware that my excessed ticket is now only valid at off-peak times, and is no longer an anytime ticket.
 

island

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I don't have that many excesses, but those I do have are not endorsed with any ticket type or restriction specifics.
 

hairyhandedfool

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The clerk should inform you of any restrictions that are applicable to your journey, so it may not have been on the ticket (infact, even if it was a new ticket the only evidence of restrictions would be the ticket type and "see restrictions" printed on the ticket), but you should really have been told about them, especially if there is any danger of them affecting your journey.

With regard to why the cheaper alternative was not offered, I rather suspect tunnel vision or the like. In other words, the clerk had it in their mind that you needed a ticket to go via Ely at peak time and then you needed to change the route for the return journey, rather than checking if excessing the outward portion is the cheapest option. This is a very easy trap to fall into, I have done it a few times in the past.
 

bb21

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So is it common for an excess that changes the validity times of a ticket to not show that information anywhere on the excess? I'm curious to know how I'm supposed to be aware that my excessed ticket is now only valid at off-peak times, and is no longer an anytime ticket.

Sometimes if a change of fare type occurs, there is no room on the new ticket to accommodate the new information. This is one of the weaknesses of the existing design I believe.
 
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