Probe into unfair fares at St Albans City Station
PUBLISHED: 13:04 18 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:33 06 May 2010
ST Albans rail passengers have been stung with higher fares because of problems with reprogramming ticket machines. The First Capital Connect (FCC) Super Saver promotion was launched on June 20, offering a 20 per cent discount on the standard day return
ST Albans rail passengers have been stung with higher fares because of problems with reprogramming ticket machines.
The First Capital Connect (FCC) 'Super Saver' promotion was launched on June 20, offering a 20 per cent discount on the standard day return for weekend travellers, but has not been available throughout this period at station ticket machines - only from the ticket office.
The problems were uncovered by St Albans Lib-Dem Parliamentary hopeful Sandy Walkington, who said: "Passengers have every right to assume they pay the same whether they buy at the kiosk or at a machine. With 10 ticket machines at St Albans City Station, of course people will use them to save time.
"I was alerted to this through a friend. He discovered that he and a companion had paid two different prices at the same time for the same weekend journey on the same train."
Sandy challenged FCC about the anomaly and was told it was because the ticket machines are re-coded and it is too complicated to do this for special promotional fares.
He said: "The least they can do is put up a notice alerting passengers to buy Super Savers at the booking office. I was assured that notices would be put up at the station by the end of this week but they still had not appeared by Monday."
Furious Linda Bateman of Riverside Road, St Albans, who regularly travels to London for the theatre, said: "I shall be seeking a refund. My husband Barry and I have been to several Saturday matinees in recent weeks at a cost of around £29 in rail tickets for both of us each time. It's easier to use the machines but we would have made a point of going to the ticket office had we been made aware."
She reckons the cheaper tickets would have saved them enough to pay for some extra theatre tickets.
A FCC spokesperson said the problem of recoding the ticket machines had now been resolved and the Super Saver tickets were now available from the machines. But station staff did not seem aware of this when Mrs Bateman called in to the station on Monday to claim her refund.
Sandy said: "It's not the first time that FCC has been sharp in its ticket sales. It's exactly for this reason that I proposed the motion on rail fares at Liberal Democrat conference calling on future franchise conditions to focus more on the customer experience and less on stealth-taxing hard-pressed commuters.