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FGW 'Pre Court Action' - Card didn't work in machine but checked with bank and it is fine


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Hi all,

 

Can anyone help or has anyone been in this situation?

 

 

On the 10th April I was in Redruth, Cornwall and needed to travel to Bristol. On arriving at Redruth I found that the ticket office was closed (it was around 5:30pm) and found that there was not a ticket machine at that station. I did not believe this was a problem, as I knew that I should be able to purchase a ticket from the guard, and so I boarded the 18:11 service to Bristol Temple Meads.

 

When the guard came into my carriage, I promptly asked for a ticket from Redruth to Bristol Temple Meads, with a 16-25 railcard discount. The price for this was around £30-35. When I attempted to pay with my Santander visa debit card, it was twice declined by the guards card machine.

 

As a result, the guard told me that I could either get off the train at the next stop, or be questioned under caution and pay the fare at a later date. I took the latter option as I was fully prepared to pay the cost of the fare at a later date (I had been expecting to anyway), and he provided me with a zero fare excess ticket. However, the amount detailed in the letter I mentioned above is £168 - which is obviously far more than I am prepared to pay for the journey. I found the guard very helpful but he did not explain to me that I would have had to pay this extortionate price; for the same money I could have easily found somewhere to stay and travelled back the next day.

 

I understand that there may be some doubt as to whether the card I tried to pay with was working, or had money available on it. As a result I obtained a mini-statement from my bank showing that there was available balance on that day, and showing that I used the card in the days following the incident. I have also checked with my bank who say that there was no attempt to access my account on that day. I firmly believe that there was in fact a problem with the card machine.

 

This is why I believe that I should be given the chance to pay the original off-peak fare (the same train today would be £30.45). It is plainly unfair that I should have to pay a far higher fare through no fault of my own.

 

Does anyone know if it is worth taking this to court? I am being asked for the £168 fee by the 27th May, so I am running out of time. Any help would be much appreciated.

 

Regards

Edited by honeybee13
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Hi all,

 

Can anyone help or has anyone been in this situation?

 

 

On the 10th April I was in Redruth, Cornwall and needed to travel to Bristol. On arriving at Redruth I found that the ticket office was closed (it was around 5:30pm) and found that there was not a ticket machine at that station. I did not believe this was a problem, as I knew that I should be able to purchase a ticket from the guard, and so I boarded the 18:11 service to Bristol Temple Meads.

 

When the guard came into my carriage, I promptly asked for a ticket from Redruth to Bristol Temple Meads, with a 16-25 railcard discount. The price for this was around £30-35. When I attempted to pay with my Santander visa debit card, it was twice declined by the guards card machine.

 

As a result, the guard told me that I could either get off the train at the next stop, or be questioned under caution and pay the fare at a later date. I took the latter option as I was fully prepared to pay the cost of the fare at a later date (I had been expecting to anyway), and he provided me with a zero fare excess ticket. However, the amount detailed in the letter I mentioned above is £168 - which is obviously far more than I am prepared to pay for the journey. I found the guard very helpful but he did not explain to me that I would have had to pay this extortionate price; for the same money I could have easily found somewhere to stay and travelled back the next day.

 

I understand that there may be some doubt as to whether the card I tried to pay with was working, or had money available on it. As a result I obtained a mini-statement from my bank showing that there was available balance on that day, and showing that I used the card in the days following the incident. I have also checked with my bank who say that there was no attempt to access my account on that day. I firmly believe that there was in fact a problem with the card machine.

 

This is why I believe that I should be given the chance to pay the original off-peak fare (the same train today would be £30.45). It is plainly unfair that I should have to pay a far higher fare through no fault of my own.

 

Does anyone know if it is worth taking this to court? I am being asked for the £168 fee by the 27th May, so I am running out of time. Any help would be much appreciated.

 

Regards

 

Interesting!!

 

What are the details of the document you have?.

Is it an unpaid fare notice?.

 

From the TOC's point of view they may be trying to charge you the standard fare, without any off-peak or railcard discount.

 

I think you have an absolute defence (but see below!) to the possible offences of:

a) breaching Bylaw 17/18 (entering the train without a ticket) and/or failing to produce a ticket on demand, since the lack of ticket facilities at the station are a specific defence to this

b) travelling without paying for your ticket in advance and with intent to avoid payment thereof : as you tried to pay. If they try to say "but they knew the card payment would fail!, so it wasn't a real attempt to pay" : you've already highlighted where it is clear the payment should have gone through.

 

The issue to my mind is if you now have an unpaid fare notice, that if you don't settle it might you then be shown not to have paid THAT fare. If so your options are:

1) Don't pay it, paying the reduced fare only, and hoping it works itself out before they take action, or

2) pay the UFN, then appeal it, explaining, and asking for a refund if the difference between the standard fare and the reduced fare common sense suggests you were willing to pay.

 

The latter is the "safer" option, but risks you being out of pocket if the appeal fails (though I suspect you could then get help from e.g. Passenger Focus)

 

I think the TOC may be able to demand the higher sum on a strict interpretation of the rules. However, I'd hope that common sense would have the TOC not seeing you punished for technology failures of their equipment / lack of ticket purchasing facilities.

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I've never heard of a 'questioned under caution and pay at a later date' option.

Surely if you are being questioned under caution it can only be for a report for fare evasion -for which intent normally need stop be proven AND there wouldn't then be an option to travel onto Bristol, it would definitely be off at the next manned station.

 

The pay at a later date is a UPFN surely?

 

I think the option that should have been offered was a UPFN for the full fare to the desired destination or get off at the next stop that has an opportunity to pay, with a UPFN that far.

 

I simply don't understand why the TM gave a ZF excess unless he thought that a full fare ticket or UPFN would be rejected and was being a little cowardly about it.

 

Unless it can be proven the TOCs ticketing facilities were definitely at fault then there's probably no defence I am afraid.

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http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/RED/details.html

 

Ticket office opening hours for Redruth:

Monday - Friday 05:20 - 20:20

Saturday 05:20 - 20:20

Sunday 09:00 - 20:30

 

The TOC will know if the ticket office was closed within the normal opening hours, so if it was closed when you went there, they'll have a record.

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are there not known instances whereby certain cards are already well known not to work in on board TOC machines?

 

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

 

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

 

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

 

 

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are there not known instances whereby certain cards are already well known not to work in on board TOC machines?

 

 

dx

 

Usually the Solo or Visa Electron cards, which won't authorise without an "online authorisation" check (so there is no "fallback" if the card machine can't connect).

 

The OP mentioned a Santander Visa debit card (unless it is Visa Electron rather than Visa debit.......)

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What are the details of the document you have?.

Is it an unpaid fare notice?.

 

From the TOC's point of view they may be trying to charge you the standard fare, without any off-peak or railcard discount.

 

 

Hi BazzaS, thanks for the quick reply. The document is entitled 'Pre-Court Action' and states that "consideration is now being given to preparing the case for Court. If convicted of any offence, you could be ordered to pay a fine of up to £1000.00 and / or be sentenced up to 3 months imprisonment. The Court also has powers to impose other financial penalties on you, including the Company's costs of bringing the prosecution together with compensation of your outstanding fare".

 

The £166 charge (sorry - it wasn't £168 - I misread) is the £86 full fare for the journey plus £80 admin costs.

 

Do you think there is any point in taking this to court?

 

Also:

 

 

Ticket office opening hours for Redruth:

Monday - Friday 05:20 - 20:20

Saturday 05:20 - 20:20

Sunday 09:00 - 20:30

 

 

There was a notice on the door saying that the office had closed early at 16:45 - hopefully they will have a record of this.

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are there not known instances whereby certain cards are already well known not to work in on board TOC machines?

 

 

dx

 

I had a problem with a card from the same account many years ago, and I did mention this to the guard and the customer service rep on the phone, but they both said that those problems have been fixed. It's a Visa Debit card.

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I had a problem with a card from the same account many years ago, and I did mention this to the guard and the customer service rep on the phone, but they both said that those problems have been fixed. It's a Visa Debit card.

 

What customer service rep?

Have you had additional contact / discussion with the TOC not mentioned in your first post?

 

You mention a cut off of the 27th - what date is the letter dated? Does the letter give any other contact methods (phone or e-mail) for the Prosecutions Office (rather than the generic customer service contacts)

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What customer service rep?

Have you had additional contact / discussion with the TOC not mentioned in your first post?

 

You mention a cut off of the 27th - what date is the letter dated? Does the letter give any other contact methods (phone or e-mail) for the Prosecutions Office (rather than the generic customer service contacts)

 

I did have a conversation with a rep from the prosecutions unit (for which a number is provided on the letter). He basically just reiterated what was in the letter - although he did agree to send me the guard's report which is being forwarded to me from my parents' address.

 

The letter is dated 6th May 2015, obviously a while ago now, this had to be forwarded to me too.

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are there not known instances whereby certain cards are already well known not to work in on board TOC machines?

 

 

dx

 

Indeed..certainly LLoyds cards don't and maybe RBS, I think this is due to the extra checking process that LLoyds and maybe others do, for example when I use mine to buy online it sometimes comes up with a secondary LLoyds checking procedure where my name/password are needed again.

 

Ive had similar issues with my card, some say pay at exit, some have made veiled threats that I should know which cards do/don't work and make sure I have cash BUT its perfectly possible for the staff to phone up head office and take the payment manually this way (but I think most cant be bothered with this method).

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I had a problem with a card from the same account many years ago, and I did mention this to the guard and the customer service rep on the phone, but they both said that those problems have been fixed. It's a Visa Debit card.

 

Ha..Rubbish..clearly some cards still don't work.

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Your bank restricts your card and bans offline payments. This is because either you are a credit risk and the bank doesnt trust you or you have a basic/cash type account. As railway onboard ticket machines obviously would struggle to maintain an online connection, your bank would refuse that transaction as there is no way to verify the funds are in your account. Your bank card will either have flat, printed black numbers or raised black (not silver) numbers.

 

It is not for the railway to concern themselves with your financial status. Your bank set the card to reject in these circumstances, and you were unable to pay the appropiate fare as a result.

 

It is ultimately the responsibilty of yor bank, and you may want to ask Santander why they do not inform customers of such card restrictions.

 

Whilst I appriciate you may well be genuine, the railway have to base their approach on thr matter of fact case that you presented a declined card, had insufficient funds and (potentially) the ticket office was scheduled to be open.

 

Anydd- the railway has nothing to "fix". The banks need to be clearer about how cards work.

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Im amazed anyone rushes forward to defend the shoody train companies, you must be living in a parallel universe to the rest of us who actual travel on trains.

 

I have seen remote terminals used by other businesses and they work fine, in fact Im not aware of any other business with the same problem, its only seems to be on trains.

 

It may not be the case that the Op is a 'bad credit risk' or has a basic account, the OP asked whether there was a problem with the machine, Ive added my view which is that certain cards don not work on the remote terminals used by the TOCs.

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Your bank restricts your card and bans offline payments. This is because either you are a credit risk and the bank doesnt trust you or you have a basic/cash type account. As railway onboard ticket machines obviously would struggle to maintain an online connection, your bank would refuse that transaction as there is no way to verify the funds are in your account. Your bank card will either have flat, printed black numbers or raised black (not silver) numbers.

 

It is not for the railway to concern themselves with your financial status. Your bank set the card to reject in these circumstances, and you were unable to pay the appropiate fare as a result.

 

It is ultimately the responsibilty of yor bank, and you may want to ask Santander why they do not inform customers of such card restrictions.

 

It is a basic current account with black raised numbers. However, I have spoken to Santander and they have said that there are no restrictions on the card.

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It is a basic current account with black raised numbers. However, I have spoken to Santander and they have said that there are no restrictions on the card.

 

They are incorrect. Most front line bank staff have no idea about the difference between offline and online restrictions. (It is a major failing of all banks to be quite honest).

 

You should write to their head office explaining the trouble they have gotten you in by

1) failing to tell you in the first place and

2), still not being aware of restrictions, and giving you incorrect information when you further contacted them to confirm that.

 

You would not be able to use that card in things like most Pay at Pump petrol stations, aeroplanes, trains - anything that isn't connected to the internet.

 

Santander and Halifax did use to print "ELECTRONIC USE ONLY" on some of their restricted debit cards, but unsure if that still happens.

 

I would see if Santander will eventually admit to failing to inform you about the card restriction, and put it in writing for you.

You could then produce that letter in mitigation to the TOC, if, you also provide a copy of a statement showing that,

at the time they attempted the card payment, you did in fact, have the correct funds in your account.

Get your local branch to officially stamp and sign the statement.

 

There's LOTS of threads on other forums, particularly Money Saving Expert about people learning about this the hard way, (not being able to pay for fuel etc).

 

You have something called an MFC Online Visa Debit card, which requires full authorisation with the bank each and every time you use it.

It is basically an old style Visa Electron card which has been slightly rebranded.

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They are incorrect. Most front line bank staff have no idea about the difference between offline and online restrictions. (It is a major failing of all banks to be quite honest).

 

You should write to their head office explaining the trouble they have gotten you in by 1) failing to tell you in the first place and 2), still not being aware of restrictions, and giving you incorrect information when you further contacted them to confirm that.

 

It seems a few people have had this problem - do you think there is any chance of them reimbursing me?

 

Thanks for your help by the way.

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It seems a few people have had this problem - do you think there is any chance of them reimbursing me?

 

Thanks for your help by the way.

 

You have to get Santander to admit it first!

 

Your major problem is that the railway can prove that you did not hold a valid means of payment, and aim for a criminal prosecution.

 

My advice is to:

 

1) Pay the amount that FGW are requesting, but add a letter stating you are extremely apologetic,

but explaining that your bank had failed to confirm any card restrictions,

and you are taking that up with Santander separately.

Explain that now you are aware of such restrictions, you will always ensure you hold a valid payment method for their services.

 

2) Go down the Santander official complaints route, tell them you want compensation for failing to inform you about restrictions.

You can provide links to all the forums on the internet where people are discussing issues with this particular debit card.

 

3) If that fails, escalate the complaint to the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

Might take some time to proceed, but if you genuinely have not been advised about the restrictions, I'm confident you'll get something.

 

BTW - if you have a decent credit rating, it's probably not a bad idea to upgrade your account to something a bit better.

You don't need an account with fees or fancy features, but anything that isn't advertised as a "Basic" or "Cash" account.

Easiest way to tell if that pretty much any card recently issued which isn't contactless will be restricted to "online use only".

 

Im amazed anyone rushes forward to defend the shoody train companies, you must be living in a parallel universe to the rest of us who actual travel on trains.

 

I have seen remote terminals used by other businesses and they work fine, in fact Im not aware of any other business with the same problem, its only seems to be on trains.

 

It may not be the case that the Op is a 'bad credit risk' or has a basic account, the OP asked whether there was a problem with the machine, Ive added my view which is that certain cards don not work on the remote terminals used by the TOCs.

 

Because the bank uses online/offline differentials.

 

Nothing wrong with the ticket machines the TOCs use.

Aeroplanes and pay at pump fuel stations all use the same technology.

It is entirely unrealistic to expect to be able to obtain a decent and stable enough mobile signal at up to 125mph

on largely Victorian infrastructure in a country with such varying landscapes and features.

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First class, I'm sorry but you are wrong

 

I have a 'first class' credit and a Lloyds club Lloyds account, yet FGW regularly turns down my card on a WSM to Bristol trip (obviously I no longer try...)

 

This is down to their shoddy system, purely and simply

 

As an example I can use the same card on Easyjet 30000 feet in the air without a problem

 

The cynic in me would say they deliberately want people to fail so they can pull the stunt they have on the OP!

omnia praesumuntur legitime facta donec probetur in contrarium

 

 

Please note: I am not a member of the legal profession, all advice given is purely my opinion, if in doubt consult a professional

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It is entirely unrealistic to expect to be able to obtain a decent and stable enough mobile signal at up to 125mph

on largely Victorian infrastructure in a country with such varying landscapes and features.

 

"It is entirely unrealistic to expect to be able to obtain a decent and stable enough mobile signal ...... in a country with such varying landscapes and features." .... Perhaps

 

As for the speed of the train .... This may cause calls to need to be switched between cells, but the networks should cope with this. Since the cell to handset link occurs at speeds well above 125 mph, I doubt "signal can't keep up with the train" is an issue .....

The land topology and the train moving rapidly into a tunnel or cutting might.....

 

As for "Victorian infrastructure" : which part of the mobile signal relies on Victorian infrastructure?

 

Back to the OP's issue : what offence are they actually alleging? What if you sent them a cheque for the discounted fare?

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FWIW I used a co-op electron visa card for 3yrs

[no chip n pin flat black letters]

 

 

from one end of the country to the other [literally!!]

on more that a dozen 2008 - 2012

 

 

never had an issue with any TOC machine

 

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

 

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

 

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

 

 

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The fact is that if the TOC proceed to prosecution the OP will need to provide evidence to show that a sign was in place stating that the office had closed, because it seems that the TOC must believe that they have evidence to say it was open, or that there was an alternative pre-purchase facility provided. That being the case, a Byelaw 18.1 (2005) charge would succeed. (Byelaw 17 is irrelevant in this case.)

 

 

If the TOC are suggesting that the OP boarded without ticket and failed to pay the fare due when asked, they might pursue a charge of 'intent to avoid a fare' contrary S.5 of The Regulation of Railways Act (1889), citing the Appeal Court judgment in Corbyn (1978)

 

 

I'm not familiar with the specific detail in the case of Santander debit card accounts, but the very small print in the T&Cs that are given to the holder at the time of issue of such cards will probably include reference to any restrictions. We have seen holders of some types of Debit cards attempt to claim that they 'hadn't been told of a restriction' only to find that the prosecutor produces a copy.

 

 

If the notice that the OP was issued was a Unpaid Fare Notice (UFN), these normally allow the traveller to pay the standard single ( fare without penalty ) within 21 days, or appeal liability in writing.

 

 

I agree with firstclassx, it is probably best that the Op pays the claim and takes up a further dispute in writing.

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I find it rather sad and unsettling that a train company would attempt to use the (somewhat archaic) byelaws to prosecute someone in this case, assuming he is telling the truth, he went to the station, there were no facilities to purchase a ticket and he then attempted to purchase one of the train and yet is being treated like a criminal, this happens far to often in many peoples eyes, including Passenger Focus who have produced two reports on situations like this.

 

I suggest the OP contacts PF, they are very helpful and often carry some clout when they contact TOC's on behalf of travellers.

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I find it rather sad and unsettling that a train company would attempt to use the (somewhat archaic) byelaws to prosecute someone in this case, assuming he is telling the truth, he went to the station, there were no facilities to purchase a ticket and he then attempted to purchase one of the train and yet is being treated like a criminal, this happens far to often in many peoples eyes, including Passenger Focus who have produced two reports on situations like this.

 

I suggest the OP contacts PF, they are very helpful and often carry some clout when they contact TOC's on behalf of travellers.

 

 

 

 

 

Andy, I understand that you are looking at this from the 'outside' and some of us do see things from within the industry so there will always be some differences, but I think it is necessary to identify where misunderstandings can result in an OP being given 'advice' that might not be at all helpful.

 

 

Yes, it might be worth the OP contacting Transport Focus ( formerly Passenger Focus ) assuming, as you say, that the OP is being entirely truthful. I have contact with TF from time to time and I am sure that they will not mind me pointing out that they have no decision making authority, but can prove an effective lobbying voice on occasion.

 

 

Secondly, the National Railway Byelaws are hardly best described as 'somewhat archaic' legislation since they were last reviewed and updated by government as recently as 2005.

 

 

I suggested that the most likely legislation under which this could be prosecuted, IF the TOC pursue this, is an Act of Parliament dating from some 125 years ago, but this was not concerned with the profits of the railway companies, rather the safe operation of trains and almost as an aside, covered the intention of a minority of people not to pay fares.

 

 

The main features of this legislation being widely recognised as having stood the tests of time over a great many appeals and challenges. The fundamental reasons for such legislation lasting so long is because it is good law.

 

 

I suggest that the TOC may not prosecute, but if they decide that there is an evidentially strong case to do so, Transport Focus will not be able to prevent that. It is also important to remember that Transport Focus have repeatedly stated that they support firm action, including prosecuting cases of deliberate avoidance of fare.

 

 

The key thing is that the longer the OP allows this to drag on, the more likely prosecution becomes.

 

 

 

 

,

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