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Unread 26-02-2014, 19:33   #1
Irisbeag
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Default Seeking help and advice....Appealing a penalty

Hi there,
I was travelling last weekend from country town to Dublin. Asked for a return ticket and paid full price (47) for return on last Thursday (20th Feb). I was visiting family and planned to return on Sunday.
I never asked specifically for a 3 day or open return, but never realised I was issued with a one day return only (I was arriving to Dublin at 12noon so would not have had much time!!). I definitely did not try to avail of any form of 'one day return special offer', since I paid equivalent to full price.

Anyhow, I genuinely never realised my ticket had expired on the day I bought it, and believed I had a valid ticket. I was shocked when I was tackled on the train and issued with a penalty notice.

Has anyone had similar experience or can advise how best to try to get this cancelled.

The treatment received from the I.R. staff on the train was appalling quite frankly.....I was treated like a criminal while trying to get him to understand it was a genuine mistake. Customer Service indeed!! Don't think I will ever travel by train again!

Appreciate any suggestions or help.
This is a genuine case I assure you
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Unread 26-02-2014, 23:22   #2
Mark Gleeson
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Welcome

Lets focus on the issue, your grievance is with the ticket sold.

Tickets are normally issued as day return unless otherwise requested (day return is the only return type universally available for all routes, all stations). I'm guessing Thurles - Dublin? (no discounted tickets on a Friday)

At time of purchase you should have checked the ticket issued was correct. The valid to/from dates are printed on all tickets. That's Irish Rail's get out clause as its in the T&C's that it is the passengers responsibility to confirm they have been issued the correct ticket.

It is unclear as to what ticket you actually requested. The complaint here is you were not issued with the ticket which matched "your expressed need" and that is a specific obligation in Irish Rail's customer charter. Expressed needs is the key here, is what you asked for.


The booking office staff should have confirmed your intentions, they did not it appears. That's where you have a claim that not attempt was made to determine your "need". That really is your only avenue of complaint.


From a legal point of view you did not have a valid ticket at time of inspection, that's a penalty fare and the official issuing it was completely correct to do so. There is no negotiation when the fine is issued. You no doubt object to this, but it is the law and we cannot challenge the lawful actions of the official.

You could argue "no intent to defraud" as you had a ticket, but Irish Rail are on firm ground as no valid ticket held.
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Unread 04-03-2014, 20:38   #3
Irisbeag
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Many thanks Mark

That is what my thinking was.....I am hoping someone within Irish Rail is willing to listen
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Unread 04-03-2014, 22:14   #4
Mark Gleeson
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Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but no easy way around this.

Start with the customer charter

Quote:
At the Station Ticket Office
We will try to sell you the best ticket to meet your travel needs.
So there is a clear failure there.

As to the on train/issuing of the fine, nothing we can do as the offical was 100% correct in his actions.
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Unread 05-03-2014, 00:26   #5
haddockman
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If someone rocks up to the window and asks for a return to Dublin they should be asked what type of return they need rather than just banging out a day return by default.
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Unread 25-03-2014, 22:34   #6
Eddie
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I see this story made the Irish Times yesterday.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/consu...ries-1.1733879

Given that the day return is apparently the same cost as a monthly return, I think it's bad form that Irish Rail don't waive this fine. Clearly there was no intent to defraud.

I suspect they will lose more in lost custom from the negative publicity.
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Unread 25-03-2014, 23:09   #7
Mark Gleeson
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Open return is 52.50, day return is 47.00.
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Unread 26-03-2014, 09:02   #8
James Howard
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I also feel it is bad form. There is obviously no intent to defraud here - who would risk a fine to save a fiver on a 50 euro ticket.

There is an opportunity for Irish Rail to learn something here - that their sales staff should communicate better with their customers in order to sell them the product they need. But Irish Rail completely failed to learn anything as their knee-jerk reaction is to blame the customer.

The end result is the customer and probably most of her friends and relatives will never use the train again, and everyone wonders why rail is in decline.
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Unread 26-03-2014, 11:05   #9
berneyarms
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Howard View Post
I also feel it is bad form. There is obviously no intent to defraud here - who would risk a fine to save a fiver on a 50 euro ticket.

There is an opportunity for Irish Rail to learn something here - that their sales staff should communicate better with their customers in order to sell them the product they need. But Irish Rail completely failed to learn anything as their knee-jerk reaction is to blame the customer.

The end result is the customer and probably most of her friends and relatives will never use the train again, and everyone wonders why rail is in decline.
The odd part of this is whenever I have asked for a return ticket at a booking office, the clerk has always asked when I was returning.

It's an automatic question, given it defines which ticket ought to be sold - and it is very odd that (apparently) the clerk did not ask on this occasion.
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Unread 26-03-2014, 11:17   #10
James Howard
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I wouldn't know the likelihood of being asked for a ticket type as I haven't bought a ticket from a booking office for years but the failure to ask which ticket type wouldn't surprise me. As I said, I would find it more surprising the that someone would chance their arm to save a fiver on a 50 euro ticket.

Anyway, Irish Rail have made themselves 140-odd euro out of this incident and probably permanently removed a dozen people as potential future revenue sources. I would also suggest that they possibly could have engaged with the Irish Times slightly more constructively.

I've only ever forgotten my commuter pass once in 10 years and I know most of the ticket collectors on the Sligo route so the guy kindly gave me a social welfare ticket on the day so I could get out after I offered to buy a day return. I would be a little worried that with the way they run things nowadays that I would be facing a 100 euro fine for my troubles.
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Unread 26-03-2014, 11:59   #11
berneyarms
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Howard View Post
I wouldn't know the likelihood of being asked for a ticket type as I haven't bought a ticket from a booking office for years but the failure to ask which ticket type wouldn't surprise me. As I said, I would find it more surprising the that someone would chance their arm to save a fiver on a 50 euro ticket.

Anyway, Irish Rail have made themselves 140-odd euro out of this incident and probably permanently removed a dozen people as potential future revenue sources. I would also suggest that they possibly could have engaged with the Irish Times slightly more constructively.

I've only ever forgotten my commuter pass once in 10 years and I know most of the ticket collectors on the Sligo route so the guy kindly gave me a social welfare ticket on the day so I could get out after I offered to buy a day return. I would be a little worried that with the way they run things nowadays that I would be facing a 100 euro fine for my troubles.
I can assure you that it is (from my experience) an automatic question.

In the scenario above, I would imagine that you would be liable - you should have bought a ticket.

I can't do what you did if I forget my commuter ticket when travelling on Dublin Bus - I have to grin and bear the fact that I forgot it and pay the driver when I get on the bus (thankfully this has only happened once).

Last edited by berneyarms : 26-03-2014 at 12:01.
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Unread 26-03-2014, 12:12   #12
James Howard
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The issue is that there is no need to treat your best customers like criminals. There is no need to be nasty to a regular commuter who forgets his ticket once every 10 years. In my case, I realised I had forgotten it before I was asked for it so I asked for a ticket first but the ticket checker recognised me and I explained the situation. That is the correct and proper response but I wouldn't be sure of receiving the same treatment now.

By all means, issue a penalty fare to a commuter with a forgotten ticket, but if they identify themselves with a driving licence or passport at the scene of the crime, the decent thing to do is to allow an appeal against the fine rather than antagonising the customer.

I actually don't have a problem with buying a ticket with a forgotten pass, but the issue is with rural stations is that you can easily board a train without realising you've forgotten your pass.
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Unread 26-03-2014, 12:26   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by berneyarms View Post
In the scenario above, I would imagine that you would be liable - you should have bought a ticket.
According to the by-laws, he would but many operators allow annual ticket holders to make one or two mistakes per year without penalising them.
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Unread 26-03-2014, 12:30   #14
Mark Gleeson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Howard View Post
The issue is that there is no need to treat your best customers like criminals. There is no need to be nasty to a regular commuter who forgets his ticket once every 10 years. In my case, I realised I had forgotten it before I was asked for it so I asked for a ticket first but the ticket checker recognised me and I explained the situation. That is the correct and proper response but I wouldn't be sure of receiving the same treatment now.

By all means, issue a penalty fare to a commuter with a forgotten ticket, but if they identify themselves with a driving licence or passport at the scene of the crime, the decent thing to do is to allow an appeal against the fine rather than antagonising the customer.

I actually don't have a problem with buying a ticket with a forgotten pass, but the issue is with rural stations is that you can easily board a train without realising you've forgotten your pass.
Annual ticket holders will have a fine overturned if within 14 days they present the ticket.

This exception will be withdrawn if someone becomes too forgetful
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Unread 26-03-2014, 12:32   #15
James Howard
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It is a question of good-will. Customer good-will has a real and tangible value. If I have to commute by train I will, but if Irish Rail treat me well, I'll mention this to family and friends who are likely to throw a few hundred quid their way. The loss of this good-will has to be balanced against any potential revenue loss from fare evasion.

It is no use having 0% fare evasion if everyone is terrified of travelling by train in case they get arrested and jailed for an accidental rule incursion.
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Unread 26-03-2014, 14:04   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddie View Post
I see this story made the Irish Times yesterday.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/consu...ries-1.1733879

Given that the day return is apparently the same cost as a monthly return, I think it's bad form that Irish Rail don't waive this fine. Clearly there was no intent to defraud.

I suspect they will lose more in lost custom from the negative publicity.
The person (staff) in the Ticket Office should have asked as what type of return ticket the passenger required ie basic common sense.
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Unread 26-03-2014, 15:25   #17
Mark Gleeson
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Equally its the passengers responsibility to confirm the ticket (and change) issued is what they asked for also.

I've caught several errors that way myself.

There is no legal obligation for an appeals process, if there was it would be independent and cases like this would be resolved
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Unread 26-03-2014, 15:37   #18
grainne whale
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From a legal point of view - it could be argued that the passenger was sold a ticket that was not fit for purpose, no effort was made as to the type of return ticket the passenger required. Personally I would take this matter up with the National Consumer Agency, they have a website where you can report matters via email.http://www.consumerhelp.ie/report-a-business I hope this is of some use.

Last edited by grainne whale : 26-03-2014 at 16:05.
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Unread 26-03-2014, 16:28   #19
Mark Gleeson
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Irish Rail not covered by consumer law so its not worth the hassle, land based transport is specifically excluded.

The passenger was sold a return ticket, it was possible to use that ticket to complete a return journey within the tickets validity.

Customer did not specify and Irish Rail staff did not seek clarification, customer did not check ticket at time of purchase, passenger did not check ticket before return journey.

Irish Rail have a legitimate case as customer did not have a valid ticket at time of inspection. That is the one fact that cannot be disputed.

It comes down to basic contract of sale issue, did the customer get what they asked for, were they supplied with what they asked for. We can't answer that
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Unread 26-03-2014, 16:28   #20
berneyarms
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grainne whale View Post
From a legal point of view - it could be argued that the passenger was sold a ticket that was not fit for purpose, no effort was made as to the type of return ticket the passenger required. Personally I would take this matter up with the National Consumer Agency, they have a website where you can report matters via email.http://www.consumerhelp.ie/report-a-business I hope this is of some use.
It could have been perfectly valid and fit for purpose, given the OP was arriving at 12:00, and there are return trains virtually every hour until 21:00.

What's needed is common sense by both parties - the clerk certainly should have asked when the OP was returning, but at the same time the OP should have checked the ticket, as it is (legally) their responsibility to have the correct ticket for their journey. In much the same way if I'm checking a bag in at the airport, I always check the baggage tag to make sure the correct flight is entered.

Having said all of that, I think making the entire network a penalty fares area is probably taking things too far - people do make genuine mistakes.

I think having it in the commuter areas is perfectly valid, but some middle ground ought to be found for Intercity trips.

Last edited by berneyarms : 26-03-2014 at 16:42.
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