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Used Partner's Student Oyster - FULL CASE & VERDICT(**SETTLED OUT OF COURT**)


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Hi there,

 

I thought I should write this post on Consumer Action Group as some of the threads on this forum provided me with some valuable advice when I first got caught about three weeks ago using my partner's student oyster card on Transport for London. The case has now been settled out of court and I thought I should share my experience with others who may now be in a similar position.

 

I had been using my student's oyster card for about 8 months buying weekly travelcards with the occasional use of top-up (when the travelcard was not valid for those zones or when the travelcard had expired for that week) before I was caught in early June 2015 by a revenue inspection officer.

I was asked various questions about intention to use and how long I had been using it for, to which I combined both fact and fiction

(I was under duress and, like so many others, I had no idea what the potential repercussions could be).

 

 

I was then cautioned ("You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court.

Anything you do say may be given in evidence") to which she proceeded to ask more questions

(such as 'do you have another oyster card? 'do you have any money to get home?', 'who buys the travelcards..?' etc)

before I said goodbye and walked away

(remember that once you are cautioned you have the RIGHT to respond 'no comment' and to walk away until you have the opportunity to seek legal representation).

Luckily, my revenue inspection officer was extremely amiable and told me I could walk away if I wanted to, so do bare this in mind if this happens to you.

 

I was then sent a letter about three days later from the Special Investigations Team

asking me to attend an interview for 'historical offences' and 'irregular usage' of the student oyster card

and another letter a couple of days later form the Area 10 Investigations Team

asking me to make any comments about the incident, otherwise known as a 'Verification Letter'.

In both letters it was said that if I failed to respond it may result in the case being progressed by the Prosecutions Team.

 

 

I had read somewhere online that if you are asked to attend an interview, it was seen that your case was more 'serious'.

So, when I received the first letter, I started to panic, and decided to ring various solicitors to inquire about legal representation.

 

Of the two I spoke to, [removed], I tried a third solicitor to get a different opinion from the two others who,

although seemed incredibly efficient, also seemed quite impersonal [removed],

(Do bare in mind also that these costs would have been on top of any additional monies

I would have had to pay to Tfl for fare evasion discrepancies and the admin fees involved in handling my case file,

mounting up to a cost of over £1000 in total, a sum I wanted to lower as much as possible).

 

 

I then spoke to someone at [removed], who gave me some invaluable and incredibly helpful advice about dealing with Tfl

(all for which he did for for free, about 20 mins of his time over the phone).

 

 

He told me that many individuals at Tfl were incredibly reasonable [he gave me the direct phone number of the head of the prosecutions team]

and if I failed to get through to ring the number on the letter and find out which member of the investigations team was handling my case

and ask whether it would be possible to arrange an informal settlement.

 

I was incredibly anxious about doing this (just because i wasn't sure what to say, whether I would be giving them more information than needed,

whether it was even possible or not etc), but his confidence and reassurance gave me the vote of confidence I needed

(hence, why I am now sharing this with all of you, to know that you can do the same),

and also that he wouldn't be able to take on my case legally anyway as he was so busy.

 

 

I then spent the following morning finding out who was in charge of my case,

to which I finally got hold of someone [removed], and said that I wanted to arrange in an informal settlement with regards to my case,

that I was incredibly sorry for my actions,

and that I had been incredibly anxious about the incident

and its potential outcome (a guilty verdict would have resulted in me losing my job).

 

 

He responded really reasonably, telling me that he understood that people become incredibly nervous about the potential outcomes

to their case and he didn't want anyone to ever lose any sleep over it).

 

 

He said that I should respond to the verification letter by email providing details of how often I had used the oystercard and for how long for.

He stressed that it was important for me to be as honest and upfront as possible,

because they were able to investigation quite a lot of information about my journey history

(remember they have whole teams investigating each case in detail),

and to provide any serial numbers of any other oyster cards I had been using at the time.

 

I then emailed him with all the details, being completely honest about how long I had been using it for,

stressing my apology and my anxiety and my willingness to repay any costs.

 

 

Just over a week later, I received an email from another member of the SIT team

saying that I that they had agreed to an informal settlement and gave me a sum I had to repay within the next 14 days.

 

 

This has all been paid and settled now, and I am extremely thankful that I did not incur the additional costs of solicitors' fees,

or have to go through the trouble of attending an interview (which I think would be have been quite a scary experience).

 

The point of writing this really is to not only realise that there are reasonable and helpful people out there

[removed], but for others who are in a similar position to realise that Tfl can be reasonable and amiable people,

who's intention is not necessarily to prosecute members of the public,

but to regain costs that they have lost by you evading the full fare.

 

 

The main thing is that Tfl want people to be compliant and honest, which I am thankful

I have now done (there is always an element of skepticism of giving too much information anyway).

 

So, the main tips are:

1) Do not be afraid to ring and speak to someone over the phone

(thankfully we do not yet live in a age where everything is so drenched in bureaucracy that we are unable to talk to another human being) and

 

2) respond promptly to both the verification letter/or interview letter (or whatever you receive),

and do not ignore it and think it will go away

(for your sake as much as anybody's - I know I lost a fair bit of sleep just about the idea of being prosecuted, however remote it may have actually been).

 

If you do have any questions about my case or anything else,

please reply to this thread and I will try to answer them

(I can only really talk about my experience, not about fare evasion on London buses, other train lines etc, though I do assume the process may be similar).

 

Hope that has been a useful and (hopefully) inspiring thread.

 

Thanks, Wilson

Edited by dx100uk
commercial names removed - dx
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  • 4 months later...

Hi,

 

Thanks for sharing that - t's really helpful. I've got a similar problem although instead of using student oyster I've been using free staff pass (that didn't belong to me). I've received the same letters - 1 verification and 2 - interview under caution. Did you call TFL before replying to 2nd letter or after? Did you have to go to interview under caution? I'm literally freaking out now... I know what I've done is definitely the worst thing and that TFL rarely accept settlement out of court.

 

Thanks a lot for your help

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Hi,

 

Thanks for sharing that - t's really helpful. I've got a similar problem although instead of using student oyster I've been using free staff pass (that didn't belong to me). I've received the same letters - 1 verification and 2 - interview under caution. Did you call TFL before replying to 2nd letter or after? Did you have to go to interview under caution? I'm literally freaking out now... I know what I've done is definitely the worst thing and that TFL rarely accept settlement out of court.

 

Thanks a lot for your help

 

Hello and welcome to CAG.

 

I don't know if the OP will reply to you, as they haven't been back here since July.

 

It might be better for you to start a new thread of your own.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hi Wilson

 

Your case was settled out of court. Have you been told whether you will be on any records or not, or you were not concerned about that?

 

I have also posted my incident that occurred a year a go.

 

Thanks

 

Rosy. x

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Hiya,

 

I never replied to either of the two letters, just range them straight away (the whole thing took about a week from receiving the letters to taking to them) and I never went to the interview because I called them straight away pretty much...

 

Hope that helps

 

 

Hi,

 

Thanks for sharing that - t's really helpful. I've got a similar problem although instead of using student oyster I've been using free staff pass (that didn't belong to me). I've received the same letters - 1 verification and 2 - interview under caution. Did you call TFL before replying to 2nd letter or after? Did you have to go to interview under caution? I'm literally freaking out now... I know what I've done is definitely the worst thing and that TFL rarely accept settlement out of court.

 

Thanks a lot for your help

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Hi Rosy,

 

They said the incident would be on their records for a year.....if something happened again within that year I would i would automatically face prosecution. After a year, I think, they erase the records.

 

Thanks

 

Hi Wilson

 

Your case was settled out of court. Have you been told whether you will be on any records or not, or you were not concerned about that?

 

I have also posted my incident that occurred a year a go.

 

Thanks

 

Rosy. x

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Sorry for all the typos... Meant to say I never replied to the letters, just rang them.

 

Hiya,

 

I never replied to either of the two letters, just range them straight away (the whole thing took about a week from receiving the letters to taking to them) and I never went to the interview because I called them straight away pretty much...

 

Hope that helps

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Hi Wilson

 

Thanks for replying.

 

Yes i understand. TFL will keep some record internally i suppose but that won't be disclosed any further such as DBS etc. I am not 100% sure about it but thats what i understood from other members here in this forum who advised me. I did not get many replies and advices on my post but 2 people advised me. Hope thats the case that it is not disclosed anywhere further.

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Hi Rosie, read your post, the TFL prosecutor who I spoke to over the phone told me that the incident would be on their internal records for a year, and a year only... I think you are safe to apply for the your course - only if you were convicted would it come up CRB. Hope that helps.

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Hi Wilson

 

Thank you.

 

I appreciate you took the time to read my post! :)

 

Yes I suppose that! hopefully thats the case, would be great if any of the TFL guys here could affirm this to be true. However I have not heard their confirmation. Still your and other member experiences are good advice. :)

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