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Author Topic: Mis-ticketing (Qn.6 5/11/2019)  (Read 743 times)
Red Squirrel
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« on: November 05, 2019, 05:45:00 pm »

Sometimes passengers are overcharged - for example by ticket machines offering a more expensive ticket on the front menu than deeper in the navigation, or by staff selling a peak ticket when an off peak suffices. Occasionally, customers realise they have paid more than necessary.  Example cases below.

a) Do you consider that selling a more expensive ticket than needed is "fair game" if the customer is happy to pay the higher price for no extra service? If not, what steps do you take / are you taking to reduce such mis-selling?

b) When someone is sold a ticket that's at a higher price than they need to pay, what mechanism do you suggest for them to get a refund of the difference if and when they realise, or do you suggest they put it down to experience?

c) Have you surveyed passengers to learn what proportion of them are mis-ticketed, including (and separating out) tickets which are valid for the journey, but more expensive than the customer needed?

Examples ...

* The Ticket Vending Machine at my local station offers a £74.60 off peak return to London on the front menu even at the weekend, when a super off peak at £55 is valid on all weekend trains. New users see "off peak" and think it means "cheapest ticket today" not even realising there's a hidden product called "super off peak"

* Rail Staff who are unfamiliar with the vagaries of off-peak and insist on selling the passenger a peak ticket instead.

* Asking Customer services for a refund and sending in the ticket, just to be told to go to the local station ... who (as you've no ticket) tell you to get in touch with customer services, or are unstaffed.
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MarkHopwood
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2019, 05:47:47 pm »

a) Of course not. Where we can, we set up our self service machines to offer the cheapest fares available at that time of day and we “hide” peak fares from view when it would be wrong for a customer to purchase one.

b) If a customer takes their tickets to the Ticket Office, our colleagues will be able to advise them and adopt the refund claim for processing, should a refund be appropriate.

c) We are surveyed throughout the year by Rail Delivery group to make sure we offer the cheapest available fares to our customers. Last year we scored 100%, with no failures.


* The Ticket Vending Machine - Depending our which type of machine it is, the “quick selection” screens are set up to switch from Peak fares to off-peak fares at the right time of day. These screens are limited as to capacity and if customers are unsure, they can search all fares or (Where available) ask at the ticket office.

* Rail Staff who are unfamiliar with the vagaries of off peak and insist on selling the passenger a peak ticket instead - All colleagues that sell tickets go through a Retail training course that covers the use of the machine as well.  If you can provide a more specific example to prove the colleague was indeed “unfamiliar”, we will be happy to investigate further.

* Asking Customer services for a refund - Customer Services often refer customers back to the point of purchase for the refund to be paid but we should be returning the tickets if Customer Services cannot pay it out.
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broadgage
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2019, 05:56:28 pm »

And what about those who have a "booked train only" ticket, but find that the booked train is very overcrowded.
Are they allowed to use that ticket on the following service without any penalty ?

There are periodic complaints about overcrowding, with some alleging that the overcrowding is dangerous. The reply given on this forum has been that "customers have a choice whether or not to board" Not a very realistic choice if a substantial penalty is imposed.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
MarkHopwood
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2019, 06:05:56 pm »

A booked train only ticket will come with a seat reservation usually so a passenger with such a ticket should have a seat. If we had a particular issue such as a reduction in capacity I would expect us to allow tickets on a subsequent service.
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2019, 08:31:43 am »

a) Of course not. Where we can, we set up our self service machines to offer the cheapest fares available at that time of day and we “hide” peak fares from view when it would be wrong for a customer to purchase one.

I am relieved to read that, though there is no "of course" about it ... I can go into almost any supermarket and pick a can of branded product off a shelf at eye level where it's caught my attention, or save myself money if I realise that the shelves by my feet have a product that's almost identical but much cheaper.

"Where we can" is interesting

Quote
* The Ticket Vending Machine - Depending our which type of machine it is, the “quick selection” screens are set up to switch from Peak fares to off-peak fares at the right time of day. These screens are limited as to capacity and if customers are unsure, they can search all fares or (Where available) ask at the ticket office.

And where super off peak fares exist, they are not switched to.  Even at the weekend, and even at stations where not a single train to London falls into the "off peak" bracket.  Why are off peak ever offered on the front screen? Limited capacity maybe, but the choice of what's on there looks very much like an excuse to use the supermarket system.

"Searching all fares" assumes a knowledge to do so, and a knowledge of what you are then offered.  Identical text describes both off peak and super off peak tickets - about not being valid at peak times.  No help facility on the TVM to press a button and speak to someone who knows ...

Quote
c) We are surveyed throughout the year by Rail Delivery group to make sure we offer the cheapest available fares to our customers. Last year we scored 100%, with no failures.

Congratulations ... but does "offer" in our TVM example mean that the cheapest available fare is available somewhere on the machine, rather than being obvious and the natural product to offer?  Reminds me a little bit of the Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy - I'm afraid I've quoted it before:
Quote
“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

There was another post on this forum a week or two back that picked up an off-peak / super off-peak issue that was in the customer's favour ... and that was fixed (by GWR, I suspect) within days, even between normal fare change times.  The issue in this discussion is about an off-peak / super off-peak issue that was in the GWR's favour - wouldn't it be good if it too were to be fixed within days?  Not asking for more fares to be shown on the machine's front screen - just for the best value fare outside the peak, and not a fare that's not the cheapest for travel on a single London-bound service.
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PhilWakely
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2019, 03:16:02 pm »

I checked the TVM at Newton Abbot this morning. At 10.30am, the quick fares on offer were still the SOS and SOR/SDR fares to Paddington, Exeter and Plymouth. Most savvy pax will know of the cheaper fares, but I have anecdotal evidence of pax purchasing full price tickets and then having them refunded when enquiring at the ticket office what trains they can catch.
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bignosemac
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2019, 05:15:24 pm »

What the MD says and what's actually happening on the ground are mutually exclusive.
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Richard Fairhurst
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2019, 09:04:40 pm »

There was another post on this forum a week or two back that picked up an off-peak / super off-peak issue that was in the customer's favour ... and that was fixed (by GWR, I suspect) within days, even between normal fare change times.  The issue in this discussion is about an off-peak / super off-peak issue that was in the GWR's favour - wouldn't it be good if it too were to be fixed within days?  Not asking for more fares to be shown on the machine's front screen - just for the best value fare outside the peak, and not a fare that's not the cheapest for travel on a single London-bound service.

Indeed.

I know software changes are expensive (they shouldn't be, but are). I remember someone, perhaps ChrisB, saying that the machines only understand a binary peak/off-peak distinction, rather than different fares for different times of day.

But it would cost GWR approximately £notmuch to, right now, print out little posters for every affected ticket machine, saying "If you are travelling after n and returning before n, select 'Other Destinations', type your station name, and select 'Super Off Peak'."

I'm almost tempted to do it myself. I have a copy of GWR's corporate Glypha font hanging around somewhere. Wink
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froome
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2019, 11:03:13 pm »

A booked train only ticket will come with a seat reservation usually so a passenger with such a ticket should have a seat. If we had a particular issue such as a reduction in capacity I would expect us to allow tickets on a subsequent service.

But in an overcrowded train, having a booked seat is of no use if you can't move down the train to get to it (as has happened to me several times).
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broadgage
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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2019, 11:23:45 pm »

A booked train only ticket will come with a seat reservation usually so a passenger with such a ticket should have a seat. If we had a particular issue such as a reduction in capacity I would expect us to allow tickets on a subsequent service.

But in an overcrowded train, having a booked seat is of no use if you can't move down the train to get to it (as has happened to me several times).

Indeed, and on the occasion to which I refer it was an IET on which reservations don't work reliably, and it was half length, which means no reservations in any case.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
IndustryInsider
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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2019, 02:36:27 am »

A booked train only ticket will come with a seat reservation usually so a passenger with such a ticket should have a seat. If we had a particular issue such as a reduction in capacity I would expect us to allow tickets on a subsequent service.

But in an overcrowded train, having a booked seat is of no use if you can't move down the train to get to it (as has happened to me several times).

Indeed, and on the occasion to which I refer it was an IET on which reservations don't work reliably, and it was half length, which means no reservations in any case.

That would be covered by what Mark said then.
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