Can anyone help or has anyone been in this situation?
On the 10th April I was in Redruth, Cornwall and needed to travel to Bristol. On arriving at Redruth I found that the ticket office was closed (it was around 5:30pm) and found that there was not a ticket machine at that station. I did not believe this was a problem, as I knew that I should be able to purchase a ticket from the guard, and so I boarded the 18:11 service to Bristol Temple Meads.
When the guard came into my carriage, I promptly asked for a ticket from Redruth to Bristol Temple Meads, with a 16-25 railcard discount. The price for this was around £30-35. When I attempted to pay with my Santander visa debit card, it was twice declined by the guards card machine.
As a result, the guard told me that I could either get off the train at the next stop, or be questioned under caution and pay the fare at a later date. I took the latter option as I was fully prepared to pay the cost of the fare at a later date (I had been expecting to anyway), and he provided me with a zero fare excess ticket. However, the amount detailed in the letter I mentioned above is £168 - which is obviously far more than I am prepared to pay for the journey. I found the guard very helpful but he did not explain to me that I would have had to pay this extortionate price; for the same money I could have easily found somewhere to stay and travelled back the next day.
I understand that there may be some doubt as to whether the card I tried to pay with was working, or had money available on it. As a result I obtained a mini-statement from my bank showing that there was available balance on that day, and showing that I used the card in the days following the incident. I have also checked with my bank who say that there was no attempt to access my account on that day. I firmly believe that there was in fact a problem with the card machine.
This is why I believe that I should be given the chance to pay the original off-peak fare (the same train today would be £30.45). It is plainly unfair that I should have to pay a far higher fare through no fault of my own.
Does anyone know if it is worth taking this to court? I am being asked for the £168 fee by the 27th May, so I am running out of time. Any help would be much appreciated.