Two weeks ago I boarded a bus at around 8:00am in London.
I got off the bus a few stops later to head into a local Tesco store to buy my lunch for the day.
I then walked back to the bus stop that I got off at and waited for the next bus to take me to work.
The next bus arrived at 8:30am.
It was one of those buses where passengers can board the bus on either the front, middle or back door.
I boarded the bus from the back door.
I sat downstairs and minded my own business, staring through the window and browsing on my phone.
A few minutes later, I heard a bus ticket inspector saying "tickets please" and that was when I was made aware that a ticket inspector was on board the bus.
I got out my oyster card ready for him to scan it with the card reader.
When he placed his card reader against my card, he asked me to take out my oyster card from the cardholder.
I thought the reason why he wanted me to take out my card from the cardholder was because the cardholder was preventing his card reader from checking whether I had tapped in.
However, when he then said "it appears you haven't tapped in for this journey",
I realised to my horror that I had in fact forgotten to tap in when I boarded this bus, so I told him that I forgot to.
then got out a small note pad and asked me to write down my name, address and date of birth, to which he used it to confirm that the card really does belong to me and he asked me to show him an ID that has my name on it and where did I board this bus and which stop I was planning to get off at.
He then told me that he was going to issue me a penalty fare of £40 for not tapping in.
I said to him that if you look at my journey history you will be able to see that I had previously boarded a bus at 8:00am and that if you look at the time now you can see that it's 8:35am, which means that under the Hopper Fare scheme, I would not have been charged for this journey anyway because I boarded this bus within the hour and hence I was not intentionally fare dodging.
However, he said "you still need to tap in anyway" and proceeded to issue me with a penalty fare.
He then handed me the bus penalty fare notice and asked me how I would like to settle it.
I asked him “what options do I have?”
He said that I need to pay £40 for the penalty.
Because I needed to get off the next stop and I was late for work, I asked if I can pay later.
He then said that if I don't pay now, it would be £80.
However, having had a careful read through the notice, I realised that he omitted saying that if you don't pay within 21 days, then the penalty would go up to £80, it will be £40 if you pay within 21 days, so I thought there was some deliberate scaremongering on his part.
When I got back home from work that day,
I had a careful read through the penalty notice slip and read that I have a right to appeal against it.
I decided to appeal on the grounds that I boarded a previous bus at 8:00am and how under the Hopper Fare scheme, I wouldn't have been charged anything for this second bus that I got on at 8:30am because I boarded it within the hour.
i logged onto my oyster card account to get a screenshot of my journey history for that day to go with the appeal claim so that they can see that I did get on a bus at 8:00am in the hopes that they would be lenient about it and therefore waive the fee.
However, I was very shocked to see that there was no record of me getting on the first bus at 8:00am!
All the other trains and buses that I got on for that day were there apart from this 8:00am record of me getting on a bus.
I definitely remember tapping in for this journey and hearing a beep and seeing the green light because I got on it from the front door and there was a bit of a hold up because there was a passenger in front of me in the queue who asked the driver whether this was the bus that goes to so and so.
This had me suspecting whether the bus ticket inspector may have deleted this particular bus journey history from my account so that I don't stand a chance from getting a successful appeal. T
he more I think back to it, the more I suspect that he had something to do with it.
He kept hold of my oyster card throughout the journey and didn't give it back to me until I told him that I was getting off at the next stop.
And during that time, I was not sitting facing him, he was standing behind me, so I suspect that he might have had a check through my journey history and used his card reader to delete this 8:00am bus journey history or colluded with the person on the phone who was checking to confirm my details to have it deleted off the system.
Maybe it's just simply a case of coincidence
- that it turns out there was a technical fault with the yellow oyster card reader on the first bus which meant that it didn't make a record of me tapping in.
Otherwise, it sure is very sinister and sly of them to do this
- they can make money out of innocent people.
it makes me wonder if these inspectors have a quota to fill or an incentive or a commission awarded for catching fare dodgers?
I'm wondering if there's anyone here who has been through a similar situation as me
– I would like to hear your experience,
and does anyone here know whether it's possible that your journey history can be deleted by an oyster card reader used by a ticket inspector?