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    • If you are absolutely certain* that you were parked OK, write a letter of complaint to the Headteacher and copy in the Chair of the school governors.   If you or the car were identifiable in any way from the photo (eg visible registration number, driver's face etc) I would very politely write that you resent the untrue suggestion that you had parked/had stopped/were waiting in a way that contravened any traffic regulations, and that you are sure that the school will understand that you would like an apology and a correction to be printed in the next newsletter.  (You can also clearly state that you were identifiable from the photo because other parents have mentioned it to you).   See if that works.   You don't want to go to court for defamation as you'll need access to about £10k in fees before you get out of bed.  You just want an apology and a correction.  If what you've told us is accurate, I don't see any reasonable school failing to say sorry.     *My wife is a former school governor and my experience listening to her is that very very few parents actually understand the meaning of the no stopping/no waiting signs and road markings outside schools.  Don't complain unless you are sure you weren't stopped where you shouldn't have been.
    • And they haven't offered a speed awareness course either?  (Have you done one in the last three years or is this in Scotland?)   And is one of the notices for 34 in a 30?  As Man in the Middle says, that ought to be below the level at which they take action.   (And sorry - I don't want to appear preachy - but...  there don't have to be any warnings or signs or lines on the road to advise you of the presence of speed cameras.  If you get away with an exceptional hardship argument you will need to stick to speed limits in future - whether you know there are cameras there or not.  NB Don't know if this applies to you, but most 30 mph limits are restricted roads with a system of streetlighting and don't even need speed limit signs - you are assumed to know this from the Highway Code).
    • It's up to you if you want to pay £300 you don't owe plus whatever Unicorn Food Tax with no basis in law whatsoever that they will have made up in the Letter Before Claim.   We'd prefer you didn't.   But you have received a LBC so it's make your mind up time.   So please    - post up photos of the signage in the dark that you'll have taken two months ago (post 14)    - post up details of planning permission for their signs you'll have found out after you got onto the council, again two months ago (again post 14)    - also let us know if you agree with Brassnecked's excellent letter or if you'd like to tweak bits depending on what you've found out    - upload the LBC.  Some of them are appallingly drafted and invariably contain Unicorn Food Tax which is all useful extra ammo    - also, where are you living now (post 35) and are you comfortable with legal communications arriving at your parents'?   If you look in our PPC Successes thread at the top of the page, you will see 275 times these cheats have been seen off with their tails between their legs (and all had the same "well known legal companies" (ho! ho!) on hand).  In reality 275 times is a massive underestimate, in all 275 cases there was a "moment of victory" IYSWIM where the PPC were thrashed in court or discontinued a claim or were called off by a supermarket chain, etc., etc.  There will have been at least that number again where they were told to Foxtrot Oscar and then crawled back under their stone.  They are eminently beatable but logically when you're in legal dispute you have to put some graft in to beat the other party.
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OYSTER CARD HELL HELL HELL HELL HELL!

 

 

One day in September 2007 my daughter got on a No.38 bendy bus and found when she beeped her Oyster Card that it had run out. However by that point the bus had moved off from the stop. Inspectors got on at the very next stop, refused to let her get off to top up her card or to buy a ticket, and took her details. Nearly three months later she was issued with a court summons without having been offered the possibility of paying a penalty fare. This resulted in her being given a criminal record which will last for six years - for one 90p fare. She has never before even had her name taken, let alone been issued with a penalty fare, because her card has always been topped up.

 

According to our local Citizens Advice Bureau, many people are finding themselves in a similar situation and they have put in a complaint to TFL about the unfairness of criminalizing people for a first offence and a 90p fare. However since the charge is now simply that you failed to have a valid ticket, regardless of intent, there is almost no chance of winning if you plead not guilty, and, if you lose, you will not only be fined but charged additional court costs. The only real option is to take TFL on in court with a lawyer over the application of the law, at your own expense of course since it falls outside the legal aid system.

 

Not only CAB but TFL itself say that there has been a clampdown because endemic fare dodging on bendy buses is causing revenue problems for TFL. Apparently the only people being fined a penalty fare are those whose cards didn't beep properly but have money on, while almost all those whose cards have no money on are being taken to court. The decision to send someone to court now rests with the inspectors themselves without reference to an individual's Oyster records, which could show that a passenger has a good record of regular payments and journeys and hence that the missed fare is accidental.

 

TFL's line is that it is the responsibility of the passenger to ensure their card is topped up. But there is no way of checking how much is on your card at the bus stop, and it is almost impossible to see the amount on the card reader when on the bus. If the bus is crowded it can take several stops to even be able to reach the card reader, by which time it is easy to forget to touch in. Hence this is potentially resulting in the mass criminalization of basically honest people, who don't have a pocket calculator in their head to tot up the fares as they go along, and therefore have to guess how much is left on their card.

 

This is a problem of TFL's own making for which they are punishing their customers. It is a fundamentally flawed system, which it seems TFL has quietly acknowledged since it has now introduced auto top-up precisely to deal with this problem of accidentally running out of credit, as well as employing a rather sententious public announcement system on bendy buses, reminding passengers to touch in. More recently, the decision has been made not to commission any more bendy buses.

 

What other minor transport transgression merits a criminal record in the first instance? Not parking, nor the congestion charge, nor even speeding. At best this seems an over-zealous and clumsy application of the law that sweeps up both accidental and intentional non-payment of fares; at worst, a public scandal that so many are being criminalized for so little. Surely a more appropriate response to a first offence would be a penalty fare?

 

Meanwhile, for the next six years, every time my daughter applies for a job, she will have to tick the box that asks if she has a criminal record. Oh, and by the way, should this happen to you, your Oyster records expire after eight weeks on the TFL system. By the time the summons arrives, you may have no means of proving that you have thus far been a good Oyster citizen.

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO JOIN FORCES TO CAMPAIGN FOR SOMETHING TO BE DONE ABOUT THIS, YOU ARE WELCOME TO COMMENT AND SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH US BY RESPONDING TO THIS POST OR BY GOING TO oyster-card-hell » home

 

THE AIM OF THE CAMPAIGN IS THIS:

 

WE WOULD ASK THE MAYOR'S OFFICE TO PUT PRESSURE ON TFL TO REPLACE THE CONVICTIONS OF FIRST OFFENDERS WITH A MORE APPROPRIATE PENALTY FARE.

 

PLEASE ALSO TELL ANYONE YOU KNOW WHO HAS BEEN SIMILARLY AFFECTED ABOUT THIS SITE.

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If it was prosecuted under bylaws (that is, a strict liability offence like you say), it would have been a non-recordable offence. This isnt too far removed from a parking ticket. Whilst a prosecution is a prosecution, I dont beleive there would have been a criminal record (or any Police National Computer entry made). I would not imagine this needs to be declared when applying for most jobs (there are probably a few exceptions, such as lawyers, accountants though)

 

Oyster card records would really only be useful if they were trying to prosecute the recordable offence of intent to avoid payment/making off without payment etc.

 

I've been "caught out" myself, where a TfL inspector tried to issue me with a Penalty fare when I had a valid travelcard, covering my entire journey, but had not "touched in". Now that really is the biggest of all rip-offs. Only in the UK could you be issued with a penalty fare for having a valid ticket, where you paid the correct fare, covering your whole journey and all zones you travel through.

 

I read the conditions of carriage, the bylaws and the greater london authority act, I actually concluded that inspector had probably misrepresented both fact and law and committed the general offence of fraud by false representation (see Section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006). So there you go, ticket inspectors can be prosecuted if you gather enough evidence. Plus a successful prosecution would likely see hefty fines and jail time too.

 

Later on, I discovered that TfL actively carry out individual journey tracking of Oyster card data. What they do is look for "unstarted" and "unfinished" journeys under the guise of prevention of ticketing fraud (there are PLENTY of valid reasons for not touching in, where there are no oyster readers, overcrowding etc). They simply do this to generate extra revenue through the abuse of the penalty fares system.

 

My advice is simple - DONT USE OYSTER

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Many thanks for your reply. Unfortunately according to TFL, the Citizens' Advice Bureau and the solicitors we spoke to, once you are taken to court and prosecuted, even though the charge is only being without a valid ticket, if found guilty you receive a criminal record. It is only if you are just issued with a penalty fare notice that this doesn't happen. My daughter in her Kafka-esque correspondance with TFL pointed out that according to one of their leaflets intent is part of the reason that someone is taken to court. Their response is that intent only comes into it when the inspector makes their judgment. However the charge itself does not incorporate intent. As you rightly point out, their understanding and application of the law is shot through with holes. My handle on the law is not as good as yours, and the only recourse we had would have been to employ a lawyer at our own expense, sadly not really an option. I am sure you are right about a lot of jobs though, a criminal record may not be an issue. But it is effectively a conviction for dishonesty, and in my area of education a CRB report is mandatory for all employees.

All best

ToT

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Yes, a criminal "record" in some sense. Its a very minor offence. Somewhere there will have been a record created. However, im virtually certain that it would not show up on a CRB report. The reason for this is CRB reports show what is on the Police National Computer and your daughter's conviction will not have been listed as its non-recordable.

 

In the end, the best thing to do would probably have been plead guilty anyway - for the byelaw prosecution they dont exactly have to show or prove much to secure the conviction.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've had a similar experience with the inspectors. i was caught out, no option to pay up until it went to court, I missed the court date cos I was abroad at the time, I complained and it went back to TFL. I did not hear from them again, but I believe this debt collection letter might originate with them...

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/debt-collection-industry/143376-first-letter-eversheds-arrow.html#post1506985

[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

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  • 2 weeks later...

In a similar position: forgot to swipe Oyster card at Finchley Central, which is outside my normal travelcard zones. I have top-up for such occassions but their were no barriers and i simply forgot to swipe, stupid mistake, I know and probably deserving of a penalty fare. Or so i thought, inspector stops me, decides arbitrarily that i meant to avoid payment and i get a court summons. I'm not denying that I didn't swipe ..... but it was a mistake!!! Like leaving the iron on or forgetting your keys. It happens.

 

Anyway, by all accounts, as you mention, you're guilty whatever the reasons. Look at other forums on this and you'll see that people's advice and experience is to not even bother turn up to court as the outcome is pre-ordained. So, the likely outcome when I plead guilty by post is that i'll get a massive fine and a criminal record for not touching in with my Oyster. THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD. I have written to TFL about it and got little resonse. I did point out that barriers at ALL stations would be the simple preventive measure to all of this but got no reply.

 

I'm glad your case got a bit of press with the Standard and Mirror and will happily back any campaign to the Mayor that you start.

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I dont even live in London and Ive had a nightmare with Oyster as well!

 

Last month I travelled from my home in Leicester to Colchester, getting off the coach and getting on the Tube at Victoria to go to Liverpool Street to get my train onto Colchester.

 

I had a visitors Oyster card, and, being a Saturday, there was a 10 minute queue to get through the wide barrier which i needed due to having mountains of luggage. The barrier gates were open and the deeply unhelpful member of staff told me when my card didnt swipe that it would be ok... I was very lucky not to encounter an inspector or it seems I too would have been in the deep and sticky. I didnt even realise until i came to get on at Kings Cross on my way back to Victoria at the end of the weekend that there was nothing left on my card due to the incompetent staff at Victoria, and I had no money either so if it hadnt been for having my card adjusted by a nice staff member at Kings X I would have been stuck!!!

 

Sheesh. And Oyster is such a brilliant idea???

 

I would be happy to back you up as well. There are plenty of times where it is impossible to swipe or whatever, especially at peak times and its even worse if you are laden down in any way. i appreciate I was lucky but it seems that TFL are power-mad!!

 

Good luck,

 

Mrs R xx

THE PRETENDER AGENDA - August 30,2008 - 2ND ROW!!! WOO-HOO!! :-)

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR A FAB NITE LEE! xx

Sunderland 011008 - THE BEST BIRTHDAY PRESSIE EVER! 'Aww, it's your birthday! Happy birthday darlin!'

 

02 Apr 2008, 23:55

OfficialLeeRyan wrote:

i like that!! its simple and good and gets the fans involved aswell x x x

 

MY SUCCESSES -

 

1st Credit (Lloyds TSB) admitted no CCA, reply from OFT 130608, reply from FOS 040608, adjudication stage rejected but still no contact....

 

My mate (Littlewoods/Moorcroft)

300608 -Long running battle,threatening court, CCA letter NO 2 and harrassment letter sent - passed back to Littlewoods early July.

070808 - Passed to Debt Managers, Acct in dispute/BOG OFF letter sent 080808...

140808 - Letter from Debt Managers passing debt back to Littlewoods - RESULT! :D

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Thanks Lilp - sorry to hear about your experience. Am pursuing it through TFL complaints process and then through transport ombudsman. I think it is an outrageous scandal that first time offenders are given a criminal record especially since there is no way that TFL can know whether the individual is a serial fare dodger or whether it was accidental, it is utterly reliant on the inspector making a dodgy social judgement, in which case they should give them the benefit of the doubt and fine them. I am just refusing to go away on it at the moment. Boris J did actually say he would look into it if made mayor, now he is I will attempt to take him up on it. Will keep you posted!

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Thanks Mrs R - things that that happen all the time but TFL persist in seeing it as the customer's fault not theirs. I don't mind Oysters from the convenience point of view as a commuter but the bureaucracy is insane - I have now tried 3 times to put mine on auto top-up by direct debit to avoid all this, but every time it founders on my having forgotten the answer to my security question set up ages ago when they first came out - it's like they don't want my money!

All best Anne-W

PS I'm an ex-Leicesterite myself!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi TiredofTFL. I just wondered what kind of progress you had made with your complaints to the transport ombudsmen and the Mayor's office? I have recently received notification that I'm going to be prosecuted, and I wondered what kind of success I may have in avoiding a criminal record, if I follow your example? Although I wasn't caught on a bendy bus, and I don't own an Oyster Card, I am being prosecuted for a £1.50 far evasion on the dlr. It was a genuine mistake on my part, I supplied evidence to show that I had contributed near enough £3000 in train fares over the last year and that this was the first day I could possibly have avoided the fare.

 

I am a first time offender and I think it is ridiculous that it has gone this far. I was told by the woman at the outsourced prosecution office that there are individuals that avoid a significantly greater fare, and those that are persistent offenders who avoid prosecution. It makes me livid to imagine that they are using me as some kind of example, despite the fact that I have offered to pay a sum far greater than the one that I avoided in the first place. If they are not pursuing it for monetary reasons, it just becomes vindictive on their part.

 

I have written to the company twice now, and I plan to write more. I also intend to write to the complaints dept at TFL, to the Mayor and to the transport ombudsmen. I am interested to know whether you believe this course of action to be potentially successful?

 

First time offenders who make an honest mistake should not be subjected to this kind of heavy handed, ill-advised treatment anymore. What kind of a message does it send out to fare evaders, when so many persistent offenders regularly avoid such punishment?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Rank,

 

You got onto a DLR without getting a ticket, so you should be prosecuted. That the rules. I really do not think that anyone has a valid excuse for not getting at ticket....

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The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children.

And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers.

And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

(Jules Winnfield)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thanks Lilp - sorry to hear about your experience. Am pursuing it through TFL complaints process and then through transport ombudsman. I think it is an outrageous scandal that first time offenders are given a criminal record especially since there is no way that TFL can know whether the individual is a serial fare dodger or whether it was accidental, it is utterly reliant on the inspector making a dodgy social judgement, in which case they should give them the benefit of the doubt and fine them. I am just refusing to go away on it at the moment. Boris J did actually say he would look into it if made mayor, now he is I will attempt to take him up on it. Will keep you posted!

 

Just thought I'd update you on this. I have managed to settle out of court, paying TFL costs (over £200 mind!!). I called the office of the prosecutions manager so many times and put forward my argument so persistently that they agreed to drop it.

 

My tactics were to write to the prosecutions manager, Steve Iontton, and then follow up with a phone call. Obviously, you don't get to speak with him but i did get the attention of a guy there who's email i subsequently got and basically plagued until he probably crawled bleary eyed to his bosses desk to plead that he make me stop. Dialogue with TFL is hard to engage in because they basically don't want to talk to anyone once they've issued a summons. Once the matter is settled, the costs payed and the case dropped, i'm going to post this one particular guy's details on this forum for all who are in a similar position to use.

 

I never had a problem with a fine, just the ridiculousness of a court case over a mistake and a £1 fare. Expensive lesson learnt!

 

Thanks to everyone on here for the advice.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just got a penalty fare today. I had 80p on my oyster pay as you go, and the barriers in wimbledon let me in through. But when I was in zone 1, the ticket checker said I am not allowed to travel through zone 1, but instead use overground. But my destination being Stratford(zone 3) and the minimum fare being £1, I would have been in negative figures anyway. I paid £2(zone 3 to 3 via 1) when I eventually finished my journey.

I can't justify my fault for the penalty fare cause I would fill up my negative balance anyway when I top up next time, and there isn't any notice stating anywhere stating I need to keep a minimum balance while travelling! If there is at all a fault, it's TFL's cause they didn't program their ticket barrier to block a card having less than £1!(Some of the barriers in zone 1 do block if there is less than £2, so the fact that the barrier in wimbledon didn't block me made me think that I was alright)

 

I did pay the penalty fare of £20. Is my argument valid for an appeal? What about criminall conviction and court appearence every one's talking about? The penalty fare notice doesn't mention anything about this.

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I just got a penalty fare today. I had 80p on my oyster pay as you go, and the barriers in wimbledon let me in through. But when I was in zone 1, the ticket checker said I am not allowed to travel through zone 1, but instead use overground. But my destination being Stratford(zone 3) and the minimum fare being £1, I would have been in negative figures anyway. I paid £2(zone 3 to 3 via 1) when I eventually finished my journey.

I can't justify my fault for the penalty fare cause I would fill up my negative balance anyway when I top up next time, and there isn't any notice stating anywhere stating I need to keep a minimum balance while travelling! If there is at all a fault, it's TFL's cause they didn't program their ticket barrier to block a card having less than £1!(Some of the barriers in zone 1 do block if there is less than £2, so the fact that the barrier in wimbledon didn't block me made me think that I was alright)

 

I did pay the penalty fare of £20. Is my argument valid for an appeal? What about criminall conviction and court appearence every one's talking about? The penalty fare notice doesn't mention anything about this.

 

 

Don't worry, if you were given a penalty fare then you're OK, there will be no further action, no court summons, no conviction. Don't appeal, just take it on the chin and move on would be my advice. In the current climate where TFL seem hell bent on prosecuting people for the most minor offence, genuine or not, you've got off lightly.

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Don't worry, if you were given a penalty fare then you're OK, there will be no further action, no court summons, no conviction. Don't appeal, just take it on the chin and move on would be my advice. In the current climate where TFL seem hell bent on prosecuting people for the most minor offence, genuine or not, you've got off lightly.

 

Thanks for your affirming reply. I don't live in London and use oyster only when I come over, which happens to be once or twice a month. Didn't know that TFL has gone nasty....

Btw, I paid by card(AMEX), and the ticket checker was not knowledgeable enough to take the 4 digit pin(used only with AMEX) instead of the default 3 digit pin used on other cards. My hunch is, the transaction could therefore not go through and I risk being a defaulter. I am now thinking of talking to a station officer and pay it on cash before I leave london tonight.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I've had a similar experience with the inspectors. i was caught out, no option to pay up until it went to court, I missed the court date cos I was abroad at the time, I complained and it went back to TFL. I did not hear from them again, but I believe this debt collection letter might originate with them...

 

 

Hi,

 

Do you mind sending me a copy of the complaint letter you wrote for it to go back to TFL, as i also missed the court date. Thank you

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I live in Manchester and we might get the congestion charge, Why would anyone want to use public transport of any description. At best it is shambolic and worst run by the gestapo. I am going to the motorshow this weekend and will drive down, park up and clear back off up to Manchester as quickly as possible after it, all for £60 of fuel and probably £10-£20 for parking.

I would urge everybody to use their car as much as possible, think how much quieter the roads would be without all them busses.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Horrid approach from tfl sound depressingly familiar...

Disastrous start to the bank holday weekend is a court summons for intent to avoid payment...

My husband got me an auto top up oyster to make my life a bit easier - stupid man! I got on a bus with pushchair and two children, swiped my card with over £20 credit, heard a beep and carried on. Later that journey, a ticket officer requested my ticket, which I gave her and she had informed me that I had not paid. I told her I had swiped it so she checked against the bus record and indeed it seems that it had not registered. I have no idea why - and suggested she take the payment. She then questioned me about the limited number of recent journeys - which seemed to convince her that I was a fare evader and the rest is all too predictable. I seem to be being persecuted for their system not registering my card properly and me not using their buses very often. Crazy?!

Whilst not filled with hope from the thread of avoiding a criminal record, I am furious that this can happen when I am completely innocent, and will take every action possible to fight the charge.

 

STOP PRESS

A big ray of light from Mr Usher's case reported on Friday - thanks Rob S! Looks just the same and I can't believe TFL came right out and issued another one the next day?! Feeling much better with some case law on my side and common sense from the Judge. About time TFL took stock of their stance rather than being 'disapointed'. They are a disgrace.

Edited by Ted Glenn
Just clicked on Rob S's BBC article
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it is your legal right to have a ticket. that is your proof of payment, if there is a doubt about your oyster card not being accepted by the machine then ask the driver/ conductor for a ticket to confirm payment. if they do not do this they are breaking the law, they must provide a ticket.

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When you go on the underground if your ticket is not valid or your Oyster card is not in credit then the barriers won't open. It makes you wonder why they don't have a similar system on the buses. That way if your ticket didn't register you would know there and then and you could swipe your card again to enable it to register.

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