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Hmm. You ask a train ticket salesperson for a ticket to Cogford,… - Sally's Journal
April 14th, 2008
10:10 am

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Hmm. You ask a train ticket salesperson for a ticket to Cogford, coming back tomorrow morning. The salesperson sells you a ticket that is only valid on trains after 9.30.

Should I have assumed that salespeople are incompitent, and said 'peak time train' very very clearly (actually, in this particular case I _did_ and she still ignored me and sold me the wrong ticket, which is why I am annoyed) or should it be the salesperson's job to sell me the right ticket and if I don't give her enough information to do that she should ask me for more?

[ETA: Does anyone know the ticket restrictions on KX to Cambridge? The woman swore blind I could travel on a saver ticket on the 17.45 train, and only (reluctantly) sold me an open return when I said 'but I'm coming back at 08.15!']

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From:beckyc
Date:April 14th, 2008 09:28 am (UTC)
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The customer cannot be expected to know all the details of how tickets are priced (although many will do). It is their job to sell you the correct ticket. If insufficient information is provided for them to understand the situation, they should ask questions until they do.
From:cjp39
Date:April 14th, 2008 10:23 am (UTC)
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Abso-rutting-lutely.

I was on a bus once. The bus driver sold a woman a ticket, then when it turned out to not be what she was asking for, he complained at her for five minutes that she'd asked badly, then told her he could only refund it in the first five minutes after selling it.

Grr.
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From:midnightmelody
Date:April 14th, 2008 09:38 am (UTC)
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I think it depends on which 'should' you mean. In legal terms, it presumably comes under the 'fit for purpose' clause of the amended Sales of Goods Act, so there is at least some onus on the salesperson to clarify what is needed. In terms of your hassle, I think you should be as pro-actively clear as possible. (I also tend to check an expected price on TrainLine.)
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From:robert_jones
Date:April 14th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
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I don't think that can be right. A railway ticket is not a "good" in any normal sense. I think you'd be better off arguing the contract was voidable for mistake. But there may be to special legislation which is applicable to selling tickets for all I know.
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From:gerald_duck
Date:April 14th, 2008 09:44 am (UTC)
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Frankly, I'm largely baffled by train pricing structures these days, even before finding out that Ely to London returns are cheaper than Cambridge to London ones yet are allegedly valid for the latter trip.

On the other hand, individual staff members seem very helpful if approached civilly. If you ended up with the wrong ticket and explained later that it had been mis-sold I've every confidence they'd let you trade it in against the one you actually needed if you paid the difference.
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From:neoanjou
Date:April 14th, 2008 09:59 am (UTC)
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Do you have any kind of rail card? Those can add a whole new layer of complexity onto the system - for instance my Young Person's Railcard made me eligible to travel on a peak-time train using a saver ticket from Birmingham to London. It's pretty ridiculous when I've paid £25.00 and the person sitting next to me has paid about £100.00.
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From:emperor
Date:April 14th, 2008 10:01 am (UTC)
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Indeed - atreic gets a saver ticket to work most days, on her YPR. The TOCs on the Cambridge-London line don't run this system, though.
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From:atreic
Date:April 14th, 2008 10:05 am (UTC)
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Amusingly, looking at the first capital connect website (which is very confusing and I might have misread it) it looks like you can use the _outward_ part of a saver ticket on the 17.45 (so the ticket she sold me would have been legal going to Cambridge) but you can't use the _return_ part of a saver ticket on the 17.45 - so an identically labled ('saver') and priced ticket from london to cambridge is allowed if it says 'out' but not if it says 'rtn'. How on earth are we supposed to follow this?
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From:atreic
Date:April 14th, 2008 10:03 am (UTC)
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That's a virgin trains thing, and nothing to do with first capital connect.

But yes, if it wasn't for the YP railcard deal I would have to quit my job. I have no idea what I will do when I turn 26 and 364 days.

(Although the pricing structure is also annoying in that although he will have paid well over 100, if he bought a weekly season ticket he would only pay 170 for the whole week, so it might still be affordable.)
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From:emarkienna
Date:April 14th, 2008 10:23 am (UTC)
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The ticket restrictions annoy me, as often I may not know exactly when I'm coming back. Especially with the afternoon peak time restrictions they now have.

Then there was the time when they used to have those 5 day return tickets which I once got caught out when I was returning 5 days later, as it turned out they count the 5 day time limit from midnight before you bought your ticket.
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From:keirf
Date:April 14th, 2008 10:42 am (UTC)
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I was mis-sold a ticket back in 1990, and gave my details to the conductor when he informed me my ticket wasn't valid for the journey and I explained that I couldn't pay. BR then sent me a court date. The CAB put me in touch with an organisation whose name I can't now remember (British Rail Passenger Association?), who helped me draft a letter to BR explaining that I was a student who didn't have any money, and that I hadn't intentionally avoided the fare, and after that BR dropped the case.

So I get the impression it's up to you to get the right ticket. Whether that's the case eighteen years on, I don't know.
From:ex_robhu
Date:April 14th, 2008 11:21 am (UTC)
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I consider after 9:30 (but before let's say 12) to be morning, so if I asked for a ticket for the morning I think "You could have this ticket but it only works after 9:30" would be an ok response. Selling me such a ticket without pointing out the 9:30 restriction wouldn't be.

Maybe you don't look like someone who would want to travel before 9:30?
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From:ewx
Date:April 14th, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC)
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I'll add my voice to those saying the salesperson should ask.
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From:half_of_monty
Date:April 14th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
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I just thought of a brilliant solution. Oyster cards for national rail! You just touch in and out, and it works out the cheapest ticket you could have got, bearing in mind previous journeys etc (so you will initially be charged for a single, and if you return that only costs another couple of quid or whatever). Plus no need to queue!
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From:half_of_monty
Date:April 14th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
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Ooh and when you buy advance tickets online you can just charge them to your nationalrailoystercard, so no need to fumble with / lose in the post / not be able to get through the barrier with those great big card ones.

This is such a brilliant idea. Why aren't they doing it?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 14th, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)
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The ticket restrictions from KX to Cambridge are immensely complex.
(All this information could be a few months out of date)
From kings cross there is both a morning peak and an evening one, which is different depending on the type of ticket:
You can use the outbound portion of a saver during the evening peak, and the return portion on any train except those that leave London between 1730 and 1830).
You cannot use the return portion of a cheap day return on any train departing London between 1630 and 1900.

In the morning peak from Cambridge, you can use the outbound portion of a cheap day return on any train *arriving* in London after 10pm, but can only use the outbound portion of a saver return on any train *departing* after 9:30!

And that doesn't include the additional complications brought about by the Liverpool Street trains (which have a different evening peak, and special tickets that you can only use to get to Liverpool street).
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From:half_of_monty
Date:April 14th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
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Can't you get the slower trains back to Camb during the evening peak? You can going back to Oxford. I know they're entirely different companies, yes, but I thought it was a fairly sensible idea not to leave people stranded!
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From:senji
Date:April 14th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
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The ticket office are required to sell you both the correct and the cheapest ticket for your journey (unless you insist on a more expensive one :)).
From:ext_72852
Date:April 14th, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
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Are they? I vaguely recall some kerfuffle when people discovered things along the lines of going from A to C via B, occasionally it's cheaper to buy A to B and B to C tickets, and rail staff are *not* required to tell you that if you ask for a ticket from A to C.
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From:the_marquis
Date:April 14th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
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I agree with the others who say the sales person should ask you what ticket you want and when you want to travel to where and via where. After all whom do we expect to have superior knowledge of the fares and fare structures, the customer or the staff member? Which of you is sitting in front of a ticket sales computer?

As it is I would also suggest that for any future journey with complex travelling it might be best to ask at a smaller station than Euston, or in advance on another commute into London when you can see the train manager. I've only once met a staff member at Euston who had a clue and wouldn't reccomend asking for information to anyone.
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From:atreic
Date:April 15th, 2008 08:54 am (UTC)
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I'm confused by your comment. Where is the 'complex travelling' in 'I would like to go from KX to Cambridge on the 17.45 today, and come back tomorrow on the 08.15'? It's a straightforward return journey, three stops on a direct train!
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From:samholloway
Date:April 14th, 2008 07:19 pm (UTC)
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I believe that a KX to Cambridge Saver return would be valid for return on the 08:15 train. In general, the return portion of a Saver return is valid on most services - except that on KX to Cambridge it's not allowed specifically from KX to stations up to and including Cambridge on certain return trains. (But the Ely <-> KX tickets don't have the same restriction - woohoo for living in Ely!)

It's a mess, isn't it? I find the best way to get the answer is to ask on uk.railway, or phone National Rail Enquiries and ask them "are you sure?" then ask "final answer?". Chris Tarrant must always get the right ticket.

The tip up there ^^^ about asking for the validity code, then checking it in the NFM is a very good one. You can sometimes find illicit downloads of Avantix Traveller, which is the electronic version of the entire NFM (including the missing sections B and C with all the prices in it). The fact that ATOC don't make this information more wildly available leads me to the conclusion that some of it is rather ill-defined and certainly ill-applied.

Also bear in mind that, if you are told you are in the wrong, then arguing politely but firmly will quite often get you through, because the system is so messy.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:April 15th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
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Chris Tarrant must always get the right ticket.

Unless they say "Um... err... I don't know" :)
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From:davefish
Date:April 15th, 2008 11:31 am (UTC)
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Bad, but it is hardly surprising though. I've previously asked for tickets for a route that I had a printout of, which I passed through to the nice lady to sell me tickets for. I got tickets that were completely invalid for that route (I specifically was going through London and stopping there, I got tickets only valid going around London)

Some very tedious arguments ensued.
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