I was hoping to receive some advice on a prosecution case.
Details of the event:
On 9 December 2021, I paid for a ticket through the Trainline app at 15:24 for £11.25 (travelling from Wanborough to London Waterloo via Guildford).
The train journey I selected was at 17:20 from Wanborough (no barriers), which I made without any issues (other than the train arriving a few mins late). At Guildford, I changed to the London Waterloo train. Throughout my journey I wasn't asked for a ticket.
*On arrival at London Waterloo, when I got to the barriers I showed the ticket officer my purchase on the app after realising I didn't have a barcode to scan me through. I was informed that proof of purchase does not represent a valid ticket, even though on my app the journey that I had paid for came up under the 'My Tickets' section and still does when looking back at the time of writing this.*
The ticket officer refused to let me through, despite me showing him email verification and purchase verification, both which were received before undertaking the journey. The reason being that just because I purchased the ticket doesn't mean it's valid - I needed to have printed it off at Wanborough.
Today I have received a strongly worded letter from SWR with two options:
1) Settle for £117
2) Request a court hearing
I paid for the train journey that I took and had proof of this. The fact that the officer at the barrier didn't let me through was frustrating enough as it is. Before then, I undertook 3 journeys in December which were all paid for on the app and for each one I received a barcode as a form of ticket, hence not realising that this journey was different. The fine of £117 is completely disproportionate to the severity of my actions. If I had knowingly not paid for a ticket, travelled from Wanborough to Waterloo and tried to blag a free journey then I would understand.
On the flip side, I stupidly didn't read the detail after purchasing the ticket and assumed I had received a barcode. Looking at my email confirmation it states, 'This is not your ticket, you will need to collect your tickets to travel'. So if I requested a court hearing, (I think) the bottom line is that I travelled without a valid ticket.
The letter is written very strongly and states if I do take it to court I may have SWR's legal fees and court costs to pay for too. Do I concede, pay £117 and learn my lesson? Or do I stand against this utter nonsense?
It would be hugely helpful to receive some advice.
Thank you in advanced.