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Small vs Train company to overturn Unpaid Fare Notice


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I booked train tickets for the same train (23:30) on 4 successive Fridays and opted to pick up my tickets at Kings Cross station.

 

 

On the first Friday I forgot my ticket reference and was suprised to find the ticket office shut

and I later discovered Kings X shuts all ticket offices at 22:00 but there is an excess ticket window

that doubles up as an out of hours ticket office.

 

 

On that occasion I boarded the train without my tickets and the inspector agreed to look at my online booking

(I don't have internet enabled phone but train has wifi and I had my laptop).

 

I turned up at the station on the 4th and final Friday to pick up my tickets for the 23:30,

and got an "unable to issue tickets at this time" message.

 

 

I went to the excess ticket window expecting to give my credit card and get my tickets.

Instead the officer asked for my booking reference, I gave it to him.

He correctly quoted my destination and told me that my tickets had been printed in the machine.

 

I thought this meant that he had just printed them.

I went back and searched all the ticket machines - no ticket.

It was now almost departure time and it was the last train so I hurried and got on.

 

The ticket inspector asks for my ticket I explain that I don't have it.

She says she will accept an online booking reference.

No problem says I and log on with wifi on my laptop and then to my horror I find that the 4th of the 4 journeys

had been booked on an earlier train more expensive train (and I dispute it was my error but it is moot anyway).

 

I hadn't noticed because I was sent 4 different confirmations and had just checked the dates. They were all supposed to be for the 23:30.

 

The long and short of it is I was issued an unpaid fare notice which I will dispute but I am prepared to file in small claims for.

 

The reason is because I entered into a contract to pick up my tickets at Kings X

and by reason of the ticket office being shut and the failure of out of hours window clerk to issue tickets I was not able to do so.

Had I done so I would have realised the booking mistake before boarding and not gotten on the train and simply gone by coach the next day.

 

The fare for the 23:30 was 13:30.

The 4th ticket that was for an earlier train was 29.00 and the unpaid fare notice was 96.80.

So I would be taking out a small claim for the recovery of at least the 96.80.

 

I'm interested in the legal aspect and the likelihood that the train company will show up to defend the small claim anyway.

 

 

I have told this story before elsewhere and would like to mention that I am not a fare dodger

or a threat to the train company's revenue.

 

 

An honest error was made somewhere possibly by me although I would dispute that but it is not one that warrants punishing

a fare paying customer in that way.

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Hi, there is a rail travel section where your post will get better replies so hopefully the mods will move it there.

 

What train company is it?

 

As far as I am aware, it's your duty to ensure that you have a valid ticket before boarding the train. The train company cannot be responsible for you making sure you remembered your booking reference number to allow you to print your tickets at the self service machine. They are also not responsible for making sure you check what tickets you are purchasing in advance online and that they are for the correct time.

 

Why do you dispute that it was your error for failing to pay attention when booking your tickets?

 

Do not issue a Court claim for this.

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Hi Gary,

 

Thanks for your answer. I appreciate.

 

If my contract is pick up my tickets at Kings X and I go to the ticket machine enter my reference and it doesn't dispense the tickets and I go to the only window open and not only do they fail to give me my tickets but they tell me they have printed at the machine when they haven't, at what point does the rail company become responsible.

 

Never?

 

If you could tell me how I could get a mods attention I'd also appreciate.

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I think you click on the little black triangle symbol in your post.

 

Can you please answer what train company it was.

 

Can you also please tell us what time train you had actually booked for and what time did you arrive at the station and attempt to collect your tickets from the machine?

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The train company was East Coast.

 

Here are my 4 bookings in reverse order. The train I was actually booked on was 20:05. I arrived at the station at 23:15 to catch the 23:30. There was enough time for me to go to both the out of hours window and the ticket machines twice. I should note and as I have found the out of hours window is not a properly equipped ticketing office. The Kings X ticket offices shut at 22:00 90 minutes before the departure of my train.

 

Journey 1: London King's Cross to Leeds at £29.90

 

Journey Type: Single

 

Outward Ticket: EC Advance £29.90 (1 at £29.90) Booking Details

 

Journey 1: London King's Cross to Leeds

 

Outward Journey

London King's Cross to Leeds on 3 Oct 2014

 

Departs:London King's Cross at 20:05 Train Operator:East Coast Arrives:Leeds at 22:23

 

Journey 1: London King's Cross to Leeds at £13.00

 

Journey Type: Single

 

Outward Ticket: EC Advance £13.00 (1 at £13.00) Booking Details

 

Journey 1: London King's Cross to Leeds

 

Outward Journey

London King's Cross to Leeds on 26 Sep 2014

 

Departs:London King's Cross at 23:30 Train Operator:East Coast Arrives:Leeds at 02:36

Journey 1: London King's Cross to Leeds at £13.00

 

Journey Type: Single

 

Outward Ticket: EC Advance £13.00 (1 at £13.00) Booking Details

 

Journey 1: London King's Cross to Leeds

 

Outward Journey

London King's Cross to Leeds on 12 Sep 2014

 

Departs:London King's Cross at 23:30 Train Operator:East Coast Arrives:Leeds at 02:36

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Unfortunately your first three journeys are irrelevant to whether you had a ticket for the fourth trip.

 

It is also irrelevant about the ticket window being open or manned etc.

 

You were trying to collect tickets for a journey three hours after the train had gone. No wonder you weren't able to get them from a self service machine.

 

As I said, it is your responsibility to ensure that before you even step foot on a train and attempt to travel that you have the correct and valid ticket. I don't see how you can get out of the one.

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Well to me they are not irrelevant. That is the service I intended to travel on that is the service I believed I booked but let's leave that for now because it just an indication of my intent. It does show however that I didn't just miss my train and try and get the next one (which is why I thought you asked).

 

I don't see any reason why a ticket machine would not dispense tickets for travel that day just because the train has departed - I may want them as receipts for an expenses claim.

 

That is why I asked you at what point does the train company assume responsibility for the failure to dispense my tickets? I think at some point they have to assume responsibility. Here's why.

 

Say I had a booking that was valid for the train but couldn't use the ticket machine because I was disabled. The ticket office is shut 90 minutes before my train departs.

 

Well I board the train without a ticket. The train company issue me with a penalty fare for not having a ticket. Why should the party that made it difficult/impossible to pick up the ticket and comply with the terms of the contract benefit from a penalty fare? That is why I believe that at some point they have to assume responsibility.

 

Whether or not it is relevant to what happened with me is another issue. If my tickets had been dispensed as per the contract I would have known before ever setting foot on that train that I was actually booked on one 3 hours earlier either because of the printed ticket or because ticket office would surely have told me had they been open. Knowing that I would now be liable for a 96 pound fare I would not have travelled that night (for reasons that I won't go into here).

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Why would a disabled person not be able to use a self service machine?! That's completely irrelevant to your problem anyway.

 

You probably didn't intend to avoid paying your fare but that doesn't alter the fact that it is an offence for you to board a train without possessing a valid ticket.

 

It is not the train company's responsibility or fault that you didn't check what ticket you had actually bought and what time your train was supposed to be. It's a strict liability offence as far as I know.

 

There is no breach of contract.

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A blind person probably can't use a ticket machine and a wheelchair bound person probably can't either.

 

That is why I am trying to get you say at what point does the train company assume responsiblity for the failure of a passenger to get a ticket that they have both agreed will be picked up at the station and I think the answer you are suggesting is never. . If a train company fails to operate the booked service and passengers get on the next one are they entitled to collect penalty fares? Under strict liability yes. What court is going to uphold that without looking at the circumstances.

 

I appreciate your answers. They are all helpful but there is limited downside for me in going to small claims.

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I won't get into the disabled debate as it's irrelevant.

 

A train company doesn't assume responsibility for you failing to get on the correct train or have a valid ticket for travel.

 

Had you arrived prior to the train you were booked on you would have got your tickets and there would be no problems.

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Ok let me take your hypothetical and tweak it slightly.

 

If I had been booked on the 23:30 and arrived at 23:15 I would not have been able to collect my tickets.

 

At what point does a train company assume responsibility for the inability of a customer to collect his tickets at the station as contracted.

 

I'm ok with you saying the answer is never.

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Ok let's take that then. If I had been booked on the 23:30 and arrived at 23:15 I would not have been able to collect my tickets.

 

At what point does a train company assume responsibility for the inability of a customer to collect his tickets at the station as contracted.

Yes you would have been able to collect your tickets in that scenario.

 

I don't know how many times I can tell you that it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that you have a valid ticket before you board the train. Never the train company's.

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Yes you would have been able to collect your tickets in that scenario.

 

Malfunctioning machine and closed ticket office.

 

I don't know how many times I can tell you that it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that you have a valid ticket before you board the train. Never the train company's.

 

Yes it is.

 

But I am asking you what happens when the body responsible for dispensing a ticket fails to do so.

 

It's not beyond reality. I could get on a bus and the oyster reader is not working and then a ticket inspector gets on and fines me. But who was responsible then for the failure to dispense the ticket.

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The machine was working but your train had left three hours earlier.

 

I've helped as much as I can as you're no longer listening.

 

I'll leave it to the others to see if they have any better luck.

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The machine was working but your train had left three hours earlier.

 

I've helped as much as I can as you're no longer listening.

 

I'll leave it to the others to see if they have any better luck.

 

You weren't there to know it was working. but again. I appreciate your that I got your answer. It is never the train company's responsibility if I can't get a ticket at the designated point. Thank you.

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Thank you.

 

Let me explain why I have been so insistent on getting an answer to that specific question.

 

I don't think you can totally absolve a transportation company from responsibility of ticketing problems because it gives rise to too many problems in law. In fact it would enable them to deliberately disable ticketing for a train 15 minutes before departure and then send inspectors on to increase revenue because you are bound to always get people that way.

 

You have to ask what was the point of the laws in the first place. I think that the reason that the bye-laws are the way they are is to protect these companies from fare evaders. I don't think the bye-laws are there to enable train companies collect penalty fares from honest travellers.

 

So while it is certain open to a judge to agree with you, if he were to say you can't shut the ticket office 90 minutes before a train departs and then start charging penalty fares I doubt that it would be overturned on appeal.

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Thank you.

 

Let me explain why I have been so insistent on getting an answer to that specific question.

 

I don't think you can totally absolve a transportation company from responsibility of ticketing problems because it gives rise to too many problems in law. In fact it would enable them to deliberately disable ticketing for a train 15 minutes before departure and then send inspectors on to increase revenue because you are bound to always get people that way.

 

You have to ask what was the point of the laws in the first place. I think that the reason that the bye-laws are the way they are is to protect these companies from fare evaders. I don't think the bye-laws are there to enable train companies collect penalty fares from honest travellers.

 

So while it is certain open to a judge to agree with you, if he were to say you can't shut the ticket office 90 minutes before a train departs and then start charging penalty fares I doubt that it would be overturned on appeal.

 

Talk of them intentionally disabling ticket machines is venturing into the realms of fantasy and is unlikely to be entertained.

 

Stick to what actually happened and not "what ifs."

 

Let's look at the facts:-

 

1) You booked an advanced train ticket for 20:05.

 

2) You arrived at the train station at 23:15, over three hours after your train departed.

 

3) The self service ticket machine wouldn't dispense tickets that had expired three hours previously.

 

4) You boarded the 23:30 train without holding a valid ticket.

 

5) You were given a penalty charge for not possessing a valid ticket on that specific train.

 

Those are the facts a Court will look at.

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The specifics you mention aren't relevant.

 

The Court are not going to see me as a fare evader on the facts and are entitled to sympathetically rule in my favour due to the closed ticket office.

 

Even if they rule against me they are perfectly entitled to and may well pass legal commentary in their judgement on any or all of the issues that you are calling irrelevant herel.

 

That is they could say the Claimant loses on the facts of this case but in these scenarios he would have won because that is how laws are made.

 

So I don't need a winnable case, just one that East Coast don't want tried in court, because even if they win it there may be a ruling that will stop them exploiting all the [problem]s that currently allow them to charge penalty fares against honest mistakes and technological and mechanical failures.

 

East Cosat are not going to allow this one to go to court.

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