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Discounting Tickets

Two ticket sellers are utterly convinced that the Network Rail discount card is valid before 10 am on the High Speed trains. I give in and buy a Network Rail card.

This morning
Two more ticket sellers are utterly convinced that this is so. I waver and buy that 1/3 off ticket for a 6:47 am train. Which is before 10 am.

I ask a fifth ticket seller and he disagrees. He says that those first four ticket sellers were poorly trained and misled by the options on their Portable Ticket Machines. On the other hand, he refuses to sell me a top-up ticket, telling me to ask the on-board ticket inspector to make sure it's really not valid.

On the morning train: For the first time ever on a high speed train, there is no ticket inspector. There are no inspectors at Canterbury. The gates are open. I have arrived in Canterbury for a discount of more than £10 on the usual ticket price.

This afternoon
By now it's after 10 am, so my ticket is clearly valid. There IS a ticket inspector on my train home. He's fairly sure that, as per all text printed everywhere, the Network Rail card cannot be used before 10 am. On the other hand, he then goes to double-check this with his colleague, just in case he's wrong. His colleague agrees.

This makes a total of 4 Southeastern Rail employees who are sure it IS valid and 3 who are sure it is NOT valid. The majority still hold otherwise, but I'd err on the side of the ticket inspectors and buy the full price ticket next time.

The hilarity of it is, I know those ticket sellers will all try hard to sell me a discount ticket; I shall have to protest their attempts to save me money. Worse, they're more likely to recognize me as someone who has a discount card since they've all talked to me at length about it. On the bright side, my knowledge was obtained at a £10 discount.



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 4th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
You would think, in this highly-mechanized and automated day and age, that it would not be so difficult to determine!
Feb. 4th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
The high speed trains have only been running for around 6 weeks. Everyone agrees that this card isn't valid on normal trains before 10 am. It's the new category about which they've somehow correctly or incorrectly gotten a different idea.
Feb. 4th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
It is eminently possible to build a set of rules and exceptions complicated enough that it is not feasible to build a computer system which will correctly calculate costs according to those rules and exceptions.
Telephone companies and railways do this all the time. Also tax authorities.
Airlines usually get close but in the end tend to avoid it.
Feb. 4th, 2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
It's belleeding entrapment, that's what it is.

And furthermore, in buying a HST ticket in advance (sans discount, as according to this website, the NSE card is not valid on any HST train, at least in buying tickets in advance), I have been charged £1 for having the tickets delivered. To a machine at C--- West.

This is new. This was not the case a fortnight ago.

The webpage complained that I was not having the tickets delivered to where I was travelling from - but then a) I picked up my Newcastle to Sheffield tickets in Marylebone station, without using a password, b) there is no C---- Stations option only C---- West or C---- East. And it doesn't look like there are any HSTs on the Sunday, so I'll have to travel from Canon Street or London Bridge to somewhere, so I'm reckoning on the C--- East option.

But I reckon I just got ripped off.

Edited at 2010-02-04 11:22 pm (UTC)
Feb. 5th, 2010 11:08 am (UTC)
And there are no extra charges if you had bought those tickets in person in advance at a station, of course. Which website were you using to buy them?

(The Network Rail card website does say that it's not valid for Advance tickets, among other things. Just to confuse figuring out best price, of course.)
Feb. 5th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
To further confuse you - sometimes the discount isn't valid until a later time than 10. Even though the website says it's good on the 10:15 from Portsmouth. Cue me and a dozen or so other passengers getting booted off. Dear railway staff, we were not all trying to pull a fast one.
Feb. 5th, 2010 11:06 am (UTC)
Next time, bring a printout? But yes. It does rather imply that it's just generally valid after 10.
Feb. 5th, 2010 10:45 am (UTC)
But at no point did you actually test the theory.. is that what I'm hearing?
Feb. 5th, 2010 11:04 am (UTC)
I tried to test the theory - I did buy the cheaper ticket and traveled on it - but due to lack of ticket inspectors on the train and their equal lack on arriving at Canterbury, there was never anyone with whom I could actually test it, no.
Feb. 5th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
For something with that level of contention I say you keep testing. The level of benefit seems to be worth the continuation of the experiment. What really would be the consequences if they decided to enforce the rule on you? In the mean time you are saving money.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )