Hi, I was wondering if I could get some advice on an odd situation I’ve found myself in.
I received a “Notice of intention to Prosecute” letter from Thameslink, this is off the back of a Revenue Protection Officer (RPO) taking down my details because I travelled with an off-peak ticket during “apparently” peak times.
A bit on why I was doing this:
Returning to work after during the pandemic was very intermittent and ad-hoc. So I needed a different solution to buying weekly/monthly tickets. Initially I got a couple of daily tickets.
However, Thameslink also sells a carnet ticket – essentially a book of 5 tickets, valid for 3 months, where you physically write the date of travel. Perfect for pandemic travel. Carnet tickets, however are off-peak.
Also on the Thameslink website there is a statement saying the following.
"The morning peak is generally from when the first train of the day leaves to the last train arriving in London before 10:00am. In the evening it is generally between 16:30 and 19:01 for services leaving London. "
I thought the statement was quite ambiguous so contacted Thameslink customer service on twitter, noting down the statement and the direct link asking “The way I read this means if I leave London any time before 16:30 I can use off-peak tickets. Is this correct?”
To which they replied “this is correct”
So I assumed travelling out of London in the mornings counted as off-peak. Considering I was sometimes all alone in a 12 carriage train, I didn’t think any more about it.
The RPO advised me that the advice from customer service was wrong and even conceded that due to me having evidence of this conversation, she wouldn’t even give me a penalty fare. Since then I’ve been buying daily tickets again and now even started using their smartcard (oyster like).
So now I’m wondering if anyone can give me any advice on what to include/not include in my reply. I couldn’t sleep at all last night as the wording in the letter seems really harsh – talking about criminal prosecution etc. From my point of view I checked their website, even contacted their customer service – I don’t really see how people could be expected to do more.
I would be really grateful for any advice. Please let me know if there're other details you'd like.
Thank you very much!