Victory in Super Off-Peak rail fare dispute

I am pleased to have received confirmation from Jim Morgan, Managing Director of First Capital Connect, that any passenger who can show they purchased a weekend day return from a self-service ticket machine over the summer and failed to benefit from the Super Saver discount of up to 25 percent will now be compensated with the difference in fare. Mr Morgan wrote to me to confirm that “the original Press Release issued in June did indeed say that the tickets would be available from self service ticket machines as both suppliers had advised us that they could achieve that. 

We were very unhappy that they let us down….  People writing to our Customer Relations team with evidence that they have been unable to purchase a Super Off-Peak ticket are being given the difference in fare and we will continue to do that.” I just hope that this customer promise will be well publicised so that passengers who may have lost out will know to claim.  The mistake could have affected thousands of travellers not just in St Albans but across the FCC system from Brighton in the south to Kings Lynn and Bedford in the north.

As I have previously written, the Super Saver weekend day returns offering savings over ordinary day returns of up to 25 percent were announced on June 18th in a press release from FCC stating that ‘Tickets can be purchased at ticket offices, from Self Service Ticket Machines [my emboldening], or online at the First Capital Connect website.’  In fact we found that they were not available from self-service ticket machines, of which there are ten at St Albans City Station alone.  For many smaller stations elsewhere on the line, booking offices have very restricted opening hours at weekends, so walk-up purchasers of day return tickets would have had to have used self-service machines and would have missed out on the advertised promotion.

I know we should welcome any fare reductions, and I am delighted that First Capital Connect has now made the Super Off-Peak fare a permanent promotion.  But it is ironic that ticket machines which are so good at posting fare rises should have such difficulty being recoded in the other direction.  Indeed there still remain problems with some of the ticket machines made by a company called Scheidt & Bachmann, where the weekend super saver prices even now cannot be displayed on the front screen.  I am pleased that Mr Morgan has confirmed that notices have been posted on these particular machines to alert unwary weekend travellers.

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