I'm a new member on your site and thus this is my first post (be gentle;-) )
I was unfortunate enough this morning to be handed a £20 Oyster penalty fare but considering the circumstances felt it rather unfair and thought I'd seek some advise on (a) if I should have not paid the fine (though this is a little late now) and (b) if I stand any chance of making a claim against the fine.
I am a daily Petts Wood (Zone 5) to London Canon Street commuter but rather stupidly failed to swipe in on my card this morning - first time this has happened as my Oyster records would confirm. Realising my mistake midway through my journey I decided to inform the ticket barrier staff to the situation when I arrived at Canon Street. However when I told the staff member that I had accidentally not swiped in and if it would be possible to retrospectively (on a hand-held?) do so I was informed that I as I had travelled without paying that I would be fined £20. After explaining that I had travelled from Petts Wood and that I would happily pay the fare and was only trying to avoid paying the "unswiped" fare I was told that they could not prove where I had travelled from and thus will need to pay the fine.
Annoyingly enough several people around me who were non Oyster users informed staff (other) that they had been unable to get tickets due to certain circumstances and they were told to go to the ticket desk and purchase the relevant ticket.
I can understand that there need to be blanket rules inplace that cover most scenarios and that there are a large volume of people that "try it on" and thus these blanket rules are used as a catch all. However this experience has left me with some questions:
1. Should I have been charged a penalty fare or should I have been allowed to either register the actual journey or at least swipe through at the maximum fare (cheaper than £20 fine)?
2. The argument that they do not know where I have travelled from is true but surely if my Oyster travel record (?) was taken into consideration they could see a rather definitive pattern and thus work from this?
3. Why do there appear differing rules for Oyster and Non Oyster travellers regarding allocation of fines?
4. I can presume if this should ever happen again (heaven forbid!) that I should not actually inform gate staff but just swipe through and pay the max fare?
5. Is there any probability that I might be able to reclaim the fine?
Sorry for such a long post and thanks in advance for any advice you could give.