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Help/info needed for prosecution over failed Oyster top up


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Hi,

 

I am being prosecututed by TFL/national Rail for failing to have funds on my Oyster card.

 

An inspector asked for my Oyster card when coming off the train and to my suprise I had no funds on it.

 

The previous day, I had bought a weekly 1&2 travel card from a newsagents that was to be put on my card.

 

Before they could do this, I was told I had £3 outstanding to clear. I cleared this, then paid with my debit card,

 

for the weekly travelcard.

 

So when I was told by the inspector I had no funds I was shocked, but thought olk I have my receipt.

 

I showed them this but was told it was not the correct one. You need two which I did not have;

 

the one I had was for the visa charge. I told him that a mistake must have been made at the shop,

 

as I had the exact price for the 1&2 on my receipt. He said this could be for anything!

 

I asked him how much does a weekly 1&2 cost, and he claimed he didn't know!

 

I said you really don't know how much a weekly costs and you are an inspector!?

 

He really was being as awkward as possible.

 

 

To cut a long story short, he wanted me to pay an on the spot fine which I did not have

 

the money for as I was on income support, and the travel card I paid for was a lot as is, at the time,

 

and he insisted I intended to travel without paying when I had a receipt that showed that

 

I had paid, but not the exactly correct one, and I did not intend to do so.

 

The shop that made the mistake, put the funds back on my card when I went back I showed them my

 

receipt and apologised;

 

 

But now I am being prosecuted for this, as when they writ to me to get my view, I explained the situation,

 

sent them my visa receipt but they still want to go ahead.

 

 

So, do I risk a criminal record? Can I get the shop to write a statement on my behalf?

 

On the summons form it says if I plead guilty it will cost me around £160.00!

 

 

It seems so unfair when it was the shop that made the mistake not me.

 

 

 

What is the best course of action, as I cannot afford a lawyer, and I have never been to

 

court before and don't really have the money to pay the fine as I am on income support again.

 

 

Do I have no chance?

 

 

Thanks,

 

 

Paul

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Hello and welcome to CAG.

 

We also have a transport forum here, so I'll put a link to this thread on there in case anyone can help. You can continue to negotiate with TfL up to and including the court date, so all is not lost yet.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hi, thanks. Shopuld I piost this in the transport forum too?

 

Thank you

 

No, it's better to keep all the advice in one place. Hopefully if people think they can help, they will follow the link to this thread.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hi Honeybee,

you said to continue to negotiate with them, can you elaborate on this?

I have not really had any chance to negotiate with them at all.

 

I am concerned I will get a criminal record; Would it be any use getting a

letter signed by the shop owner acknowledging the error?

 

 

Thanks

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Hello again.

 

I don't claim to be an expert on fare problems, but I think if the shop are prepared to write a statement it is definitely worth a try.

 

What I meant about negotiating is that you can continue to correspond or speak with TfL while the case is pending. I'd say that sending a statement to them is worth a try if it could avoid a court appearance.

 

I'll try to get some help for you.

 

When is your court date btw? Edit: and what law/byelaw are they looking to charge you with please?

 

HB

Edited by honeybee13
Addition.

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hi Honeybee,

 

thanks. My court date is the 10/1/13 (this friday).

 

The law/byelaw is no. 18(1) made under Section 219 of the Transport act 2000.

 

 

If I plead guilty and pay the fine do you know if I will still get a criminal record?

 

 

I am going to the Citizen's Advice bureau tomorrow,

 

but not sure how much they can help.

 

 

Thanks again,

 

 

Paul

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Hello again.

 

I share your reservations about CAB, but you never know. It's worth a try. I've sent a couple of SOSs to transport forum members to see if they are able to get here.

 

My understanding is that if you plead guilty, it would be a criminal record, sorry.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hi Honeybee, went to the CAB, and they put me onto a free legal advice centre.

 

I was told I would get a record if I plead guilty, so I guess my option is to fight the case.

 

 

Do you have any advice on how I should structure a letter for the newsagent to sign and stamp,

 

as to acknowledging their error? I was told this could be pretty vital; Not sure if the newsagent would

 

write this for me, or even sign it, even though I have evidence of my receipt.

 

 

Thanks,

 

 

Paul

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Byelaw 18(1) is a "strict liability offence".

If it goes to court (see below), the court will NOT consider (for purpose of "guilty or not guilty" if you had or hadn't previously paid your fare, nor will it look at if you intended to evade a fare : as fare evasion isn't what 18.1 deals with per se.

 

They are charging that you didn't have with you a valid ticket. It appears that none of the 3 statutory defences defined in Bylaw 18(3) apply.

If you didn't have a valid ticket with you and it goes to court, I fear a conviction (and record on a eDBS) will follow.

 

However, the circumstances might enable you to persuade TfL not to take it to court, especially if you can show how

a) you had no intent to fare avoid, and

b) the error was by the shop, rather than by you.

 

Have you tried this approach?

 

Edited to add:

 

Were there any 'intermediate stages'?

Did you get offered a penalty fare? If so did you decline it or not pay it??

 

 

I asked him how much does a weekly 1&2 cost, and he claimed he didn't know!

 

I said you really don't know how much a weekly costs and you are an inspector!?

 

He really was being as awkward as possible.

 

 

To cut a long story short, he wanted me to pay an on the spot fine which I did not have the money for as I was on income support, and the travel card I paid for was a lot as is, at the time,

.

.

.

 

But now I am being prosecuted for this, as when they writ to me to get my view, I explained the situation, sent them my visa receipt but they still want to go ahead.

 

 

When I see "inspector was being awkward" and "I said you really don't know how much a weekly costs and you are an inspector!? " .... I wonder how the inspector described you in his/her report, and what bearing that might have on the Prosecutions office response to your reply .....

 

It is easy to be wise after the event, but I'd advise not trying to 'bait' or argue with the on-train or gate-line staff : better to make your point calmly & dispassionately with the Prosecutions Office staff.

I don't know the 'tone' of your reply to the Prosecutions office but in general (again) I'd advise against describing the staff as "awkward" or questioning their competence .....

Stating the facts and letting the prosecutions office see it isn't fair to proceed would be my suggested way forward.

 

My suggestion? Phone (if you can) or write (special delivery : as time is of the essence).

Apologise that things have got this far, and ask (or ask again ) if they'd accept an administrative (out of court) settlement : have a look on the similar threads for ideas of what to say / what NOT to say, and reasons they might consider for using the alternatives to court

Edited by BazzaS
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Hi BazzaS,

 

I have not tried this approach, and would not know who to contact.

 

I was not really given the opportunity, only when I had to write to them to explain my side.

 

 

How would I go about this? If I get a letter from the newsagent signed would this help?

 

From what you say, it doesn't seem that the court will take any of the circumstances into

 

account. Doesn't seem very fair.

 

 

Are there any steps I can take that you recommend? Will pleading guilty be best?

 

 

Not sure what to do now, as time is running out

 

 

 

Thanks,

 

 

Paul

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Hi again,

 

sorry what is a eDBS? And I also forgot to mention, I had a 23456 travelcard on me

 

as well which would have covered part of my journey, and showed them this at the time,

 

along with my visa receipt for the Oyster top up and have photocopies of both.

 

 

Is this not worse anything to my case?

 

 

Thanks again,

 

 

 

Paul

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Hi Paul : I edited my reply while you were replying too

: the perils of replying on my smartphone while "out and about" I'm afraid !

 

eDBS is new name for eCRB (enhanced CRB) : noting that one if your major concerns was the 'criminal record'.

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Hi Bazza,

 

thanks, I will try calling them early tomorrow. Should the correct contact be on the summons,

 

or on the reply letter I was sent? I will try to find similar threads on this;

 

 

Also, any advice on drafting a letter for the newsagent to sign?

 

 

 

Kind regards,

 

 

Paul

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Where did your journey ON THAT TRAIN start?

Was it in an area covered by your 23456 card?

 

18(1) is "enter a train without a valid ticket" was the 23456 ticket valid when you ENTERED the train ?

I don't know if the ticket would be considered "valid, on entering the train" if valid for only the initial part of the journey ..........

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Thank you for answering the SOS, Bazza. :)

 

OP, if you're negotiating with TfL, you need to ring the person who wrote to you from there. Bazza is quite right about the tone to adopt. Trying to explain why the company's rules or employee are rubbish has never worked, IME.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hi,

 

yes my journey started in zone 2 (Denmark Hill), changed at zone 1 (Kentish Town),

 

to get on the underground to Highgate in Zone 3. I was asked to touch my Oyster at Kentish Town.

 

That's why I bought a weekly 1&2 Oyster to cover the zone 1 journey, and this is where all

 

my problems started.

 

 

 

Thanks

 

 

Paul

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Hi Guys,

 

Thanks for the information. I have just spoken to FCC, and they have adjourned the case.

I will have to write to them again, with the signed letter from the shop and all other evidence I have.

I guess I will have to be very apologetic in this letter and maybe have a character statement from

somebody who knows me in the community? Any tips on what I should stress in my letter?

 

I have other charges on there that I regret and will need to deal with too.

 

Thanks,

 

 

Paul

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That's good, so you have a breathing space. :)

 

We normally advise to tell your story without waffling or embellishing it. Explain what happened and why you've ended up with the problem like you have with us. Use plain English and don't try to sound like a policeman in a TV drama. :)

 

Don't try to make it FCC/TfL's fault or blame the inspector's attitude. You can apologise for taking up their time dealing with this, express regret and undertake never to do this again. Write it in your own words and be sincere.

 

Evidence is good, I don't remember anyone else sending a character reference though, so you may not need that.

 

If you want to post up what you've written before you send it, we can advise you.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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If you have the timed receipt that shows you definitely had paid the requisite amount for the weekly ticket to an agent of TfL to be loaded to your Oyster before making the journey, I cannot see a Byelaw 18.1 prosecution succeeding.

 

 

A receipt for payment that was made after you travelled is no good. This does require that you can definitely show evidence that the fare was previously paid.

 

If not, Bazza is right, a request to resolve the matter administratively might work and at worst, if you have not had any response from them before Friday, go to the Court, take the receipt (if you have it) and your Oyster with you and speak with the Prosecutor before your case is called into Court.

 

You may be able to get the prosecutor to settle there and then, but you will need to have a cash to cover the costs with you.

 

Alternatively, you may be able to persuade the Court to adjourn the case for the prosecution to review the action and then arrange an alternative disposal before it comes back to Court.

 

Neither of these approaches will work if you display the same attitude as you describe in your first post though so do be aware how important it is to negotiate in a reasonable manner.

 

 

EDITED: Only just noticed your post which says that the case has been adjourned. I am sure that this will now be resolved easily if the payment was made as you said.

Edited by Old-CodJA
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