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    • It does not say anything.
    • we get where you are coming from, you are entitled to the refund, you were returning off peak....but, revenue protection would not be there to screen travellers during off peak times as its utterly pointless in most scenarios.   why screen off peak travellers in off peak time? they are not losing any peak time ticket revenue?? pointless.   unless they see from data that a pertis machine has had unusually high usage that morning I cant see the point.   I don't think this issue is as widespread as you perceive , looking at available data there less than 100 pertis machines left across the whole uk...        
    • hi   Thank you for your reply.   nice link . thank you very much.   I know I will get my refund. it has been offered. I have been told I am right about the situation. It does seem like this is in debate but this was clarified a long time ago.   Do you think I would be wasting my time to try and stop it happening to others?   I just would not want this happing to anyone else.   Thank you again                
    • Just ask for the refund you appear to be entitled to.  They'll either pay it or they'll explain to you why they won't.  Forget everything else.   Or you could try here:  https://www.railforums.co.uk/forums/disputes-prosecutions.152/
    • you stated :   "I would expect revenue officers are quite aware of the time of day they are manning barriers. i'd also go as far as to say they don't bother to do this in off peak times... as there would be little point, no loss of revenue to protect".     They were there when I should have had an off peak option, they did not give it me!! I asked for the lower fare. they refused!! And threatened a fine!! ( i did not know the jargon , that is true)  but "lower fare option "  should be o.k for them to understand.   When I say, to the effect, that there was a lower fare option listed on your computer before I left the station  Please can I have that as this higher fare seems far too much. Is there another option?   No.   I had full fare or a hefty fine options only.   you stated:   "your intended return was off-peak, but you didn't tell them.."   I asked for the lower fare, they refused. repeatedly. They had the option to charge the low fare but absolutely refused and threaten a fine.   I do not have to know any jargon.  I just said it was too much and there was a lower option before i departed and  why can't I have that? They said no and that I had to pay the high fare.   Which is untrue. They should have said that was o.k and gave any restrictions on the ticket!   you stated "this thread is getting boring and repetitive. "   You could help me and the many others  who may read this) who would like advice and offer suggestions of things to ask or mention with the complaint.   What would you say? How can I stop this from happening to others?   I have been told I was right by the staff at the station. So I know I am in the right.   Please can you be a bit more friendly and helpful?  Come on, lets try and do some good here.   I was hoping people might suggest some ideas.   Perhaps we can move onto the questions I should ask or things I should state regards my complaint. with time running out?  If not for me,  for other travellers, who will be going through this same ordeal if we do not help them.   kind regards.          
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Diver77

Customer Compliance Interview in 2 days - what to do?

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Hi CAG,

 

I have ME and have been on HB + JSA, IS and recently ESA as they finally accepted the diagnosis after many years of fights and several appeals. I don't leave the house much.

 

I have received a letter inviting me in for a Customer Compliance interview which took place today. The day was running late so we only had a few minutes to discuss the reason of the interview. I thought it was because I had missed an appointment with REEDS in Partnership when I was having a bad bout and couldn't leave the house, but it turns out it's because at some point 2 or 3 years ago I had savings over the limit allowed to claim benefits.

 

I knew the maximum savings one can have and still be entitled to HB is 16,000 - which I never reached. Upon ringing up DWP I was told that the limit for ESA is in fact lower, @ £6000. That is my bad for not educating myself properly, with all the changes in benefits I've had I have actually lost the plot about what I am entitled to and just try and make do with what they give me.

 

The figure she had on her screen was £11,000. In actual fact, that was only for a short period of a few months about 2 or 3 years ago when a close friend moved to the UK and didn't have a bank account/flat/job yet so I stuck it in mine and let him have the card. After he used his money (about £5,000) within a few months I was always below £8000 and mostly under £6000, as I am currently. I never thought much of it and actually forgot about it till she brought it up. She asked me to go back this Thurs the 15th and produce statements for all my accounts for the past 3 years, or longer if they later decide to ask me.

 

There is a shortfall of about £100 a month in the HB I get, so to make ends meet I've sold a lot of stuff I've accumulated over the years on ebay. I'm not talking business amounts - maybe worked out on a monthly average in a year one or two hundred pounds a month. he sales were usually motivated by the landlord telling me if I didn't catch up with rent they would serve me a notice to quit. Will they consider that money as income?

 

My passion has always been video games, and being largely recluse at home that's all I get to do to pass time these days. I used to own vintage arcade machines and games I'd put in the house (which over 10-20 years went up in value quite a bit, who would have known!), which I sold as money ran dry to make up for the shortfall - and I still buy and sell them on ebay (I use them and then sell them on, usually for the same money I pay for them). Everything goes through my bank accounts and is documentable. I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing.

 

Finally - and this might be the worst of all - I suffer from sever SAD and am on a lot of antidepressants, especially during the winter. Sometimes I go and spend the coldest months with my parents who have moved to France. I never really thought much about it, but when I called the DWP they said I am not allowed to leave the country for more than one month at the time, and there have been times when I was with them for the coldest part of winter, 2 to 3 months. As I'd get fed and looked after there, I could afford to use some of the ESA money to pay for the shortfall in HB and could save some money on heating bills. I never thought I was doing anything wrong so when I needed money for personal items and to help out with bills I always used my UK debit card, and the statements list that they are foreign withdrawals so they will probably ask me why at the interview?

 

Bottom line is, I messed up on a number of things, but it was the only way I had to make ends meet. I've never done undeclared work or anything like that, but looking at the papers from an outsider's perspective it looks bad.

 

I spoke to DWP again today being very open with them and they told me if it's only a matter of excessive savings (under £16,000), they would only deduct £1 for every £250 of savings over £6,000 per month. That's not too bad, but what if they decide all the money I got from selling my machines and buying/selling videogames is in fact an income and I have to repay all the benefits money back? They don't seem to care about what goes out but only in. My main account was overdrawn by nearly £2,000 this whole time but she said they won't consider that.

 

I'm scared I will lose my benefits and my home, what should I do?

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I am not an expert in benefits and I'm sure someone will advise you better than me on that.

 

I would however get some evidence from your friend explaining the £5000 he put into your account. If you had £6000 in the same account why did you give him your card. Does his passport show him coming into the UK or when he opened a bank account and monies being transferred or the balance of his £5000 being taken out and deposited into a new account. Anything that can support your version of events.

 

I would also get a letter from your doctor explaining you have been being treated over a period of time for an illness now diagnosed as ME. The limitations this places on you day to day or at certain times. Also that you suffer from and are receiving medication for depression. The impact upon you including not wanting to leave the house except to spend time with your parents. If it was recommended you do that and it could be included in your letter all the better.

 

I think the above would be essential to demonstrate that you are ill and there was no intention to overclaim.

 

It may well be that anything you sell will be taken as income. Inland Revenue do not concern themselves with Ebay sales unless they consider you are making the sales as a business or for considerable profit. It may be useful to check out whether they consider random sales of your own possessions income. Any inconsistency between the treatment of Ebay sales by Government departments might be an appeal point you could use if the decision goes against you.

 

I can see why HB wouldn't want to be subsidising people whilst they were abroad if you had an AST rental agreement you might not have been able to break it or be able to give sufficient notice just being away for two months. You would obviously not be able to actively seek work if abroad unless JS applies to jobs in the EU as well. I would be making the point that they should recognise you have a mental illness and your parents are your closest relatives. Can they show that you were ever notified that there was a limit on the length of visit you could make.

 

It's a shame you didn't actually use you savings to pay off the overdraft on your account but it's not an unreasonable argument that you didn't consider it as savings given you had this overdraft.

 

As I said I am no expert in benefits but I think the case has to be made there was no intention to do anything wrong and to back up the £5K deposit for your friend as this is a significant amount. It will not help your illnesses to be stressed out obtaining bank statements going back more than three years.

 

Whatever they decide if it goes against you I would find anything I could to appeal. I hope someone will be along soon to supply more constructive arguments for you. I am constantly amazed that people think individuals suffering serious illnesses and mental illnesses should still be able to cope as normal. I can't remember what happened last week never mind last year. Good Luck

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Thank you for your post. I am going to see someone at my local CAB this afternoon and show them all my statements. They've been great, when I explained my problem to them they offered me an appointment for the same day! When I am treated like that much of the anxiety associated with leaving the hose dissipates and I feel much more comfortable. Much the opposite of how I was made to feel yesterday with the Customer Compliance officer who made me feel like a criminal.

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I have been to the CAB and they gave me details of two law firms that deal with benefits. Apparently I could be looking at anything from them not caring much because it was only over the limit for a short while to prosecution for fraud, depending on how I play it. The problem is that I struggle to remember what I had to eat yesterday, let alone how I withdrew how much three years ago. I don't have a clue... I am very apprehensive now. I've just been to the doctors to renew my prescription for antidepressants and they also gave me some drugs for anxiety and referred me to a counselling group. They also suggested I ask for a home visit as I'm finding the thought of being in that room with the officer so overwhelming I have been physically sick when I got home.

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Well, the fact that a Compliance Officer is conducting this interview suggests that, at least for now, they are not looking at criminal prosecution. I can't swear to that, of course, because every case is different, but normally if they were looking at prosecution as a possibility, they would conduct an "Interview Under Caution" - if you haven't been told that your interview will be under caution, then it won't be.

 

The savings rules for ESA(IR) are that any amount under £6000 is ignored, any amount over £16,000 means you're not entitled to the benefit, and for amounts in between they will deduct £1 per week for each £250 (or part thereof) savings you have. If your argument is that the money was not yours, what you would be saying is that you were not the "beneficial owner" of that money - that is, although it was in your account it was not yours to spend as you wished. It can be a bit tricky to prove this, right enough, since they'll normally assume that money in your account is indeed yours. If it came to it, would your friend write a letter in support of what you say?

 

With regard to selling things on eBay, selling your own personal possessions such as old video game consoles etc is fine and will not affect your benefits. What you want to avoid is the suggestion that you were running a business - that is, buying items specifically to sell for profit.


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Thank you. That made me feel a bit better. I'm still struggling to cope with the anxiety. I like to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst: what is the absolute worst that can happen if they decide to prosecute and I don't have the resolve to build a defence case? Prison? Lose my home? I've never had any trouble with the juridical system so I am particularly anxious about being convicted and not being able to ever travel again. I have family in America and Australia that I've always wanted to visit and they won't let me in if I become a convict. Right now I feel I can't go through this and I should just plead guilty to whatever it is that they accuse me for and take the punishment, I don't have the nerves to go through with this, I feel like I'm back to the days when depression was all I knew.

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It's really way too early to start thinking about worst-case scenarios, especially since we have no evidence at all that they intend to prosecute and indeed, what evidence we do have suggests that they do not so intend. I'm reluctant to even speculate about the worst case because I tend to find that when I do, that's all people focus on, and it's counterproductive - you need your limited energy to deal with what is actually happening, not what might, possibly, maybe, but probably won't, happen in the future

 

Where an overpayment of benefit may have occurred, there are two separate issues to consider. The first is the overpayment itself. This is a civil matter - they will look to see if you've been paid too much and, if so, will seek to recover the overpaid amount, usually by deductions from future benefit payments. You can't be prosecuted or go to jail for civil matters, and if you believe that they have made a mistake in working out the overpayment you can appeal their decision to a civil tribunal.

 

The other issue is that of fraud. Now, fraud is a criminal offence and prosecution is a possibility. However, the burden of proof the DWP would have to meet to secure a fraud conviction is quite high ("beyond a reasonable doubt") and merely being overpaid benefits is not fraud in and of itself - there would have to be some element of intent there. If a fraud prosecution seemed likely, your first port of call would be a solicitor experienced in benefit matters but I stress again, things do not seem to have reached this point or anywhere near it. Not all overpayments are fraud. In fact, most overpayments are not fraud.

 

Normally Compliance is involved where there seems to be an error on your claim, perhaps an overpayment, but where they do not feel there has been criminal fraud.


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I would love to hope that recovering an overpayment is all they'll want to do, as that would amount to less than £200 for the whole period. But finding out that I wasn't supposed to leave the country for more than 1 month at the time is what really worries me. It's there, in plain sight on all my bank statements. It would never have even occurred to me to hide it because I didn't think I was breaking the rules, so I used my card as I would when I'm home. Logic tells me what difference does it make if I'm miserable and on my own in the UK or being looked after by my family who live closer to my home than it would take to drive to Yorkshire, but the law is the law and I can't argue with that.

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