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Commuter challenges WAGN fine

A WAGN commuter is challenging a fine for travelling without a ticket on the grounds that he wasn't able to buy a ticket because he says the office was closed, one of the machines was out of order, there were long queues at the other machine and the permit to travel machines were switched off. He wanted to share his complaint with users of this site.

The commuter, Claudio Lo Brutto, who lives in Walthamstow, has written to the Independent Penalty Appeals Service. He has also written to the Customer Relations Manager at WAGN complaining about the way he was treated.

The following is the text of his letter which he has mailed to this site for all to see.

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: Incident at Liverpool St. on 17/12/2001

I am writing in connection with a penalty fares notice issued to me on 17th December 2001 (incorrectly dated 2002). I have two complaints, the first is the reasons behind the issuing of the ticket, the second is the behaviour of one of your ticket inspectors

Issue of Penalty Fare Notice
On 17th December I arrived at Walthamstow station before 9am . There was a long queue extending outside the station at one of the ticket machines, the other was out of order, the permit to travel machine was switched off and both ticket offices were closed. I queued for some time, and eventually my train pulled in so I boarded it in order not to miss it. On arrival at Liverpool St. I went directly to the excess and penalty fares window. My partner also travels regularly on this line, and 3 days previously she had done the same thing when the ticket office was closed and had been allowed to pay at the excess fares window. In the same circumstances I have been issued with a penalty fares notice, was delayed by 45 minutes at Liverpool Street and was subjected to hostility and abuse from one of your inspectors. I would like you to consider the following:-

  • It is your responsibility to ensure ticket machines are working and that ticket offices are sufficiently manned you failed to do this and are continuing to do so.
  • I was not evading the fare, I went straight to the excess fares window. I noticed this morning that there were no ticket inspectors at the barriers at Liverpool Street, but three waiting at the excess fares window. If you want to prevent fraud you should target people trying to sneak through the barriers not people trying to pay their fare.
  • Most of your clients are not criminals, we are simply people trying to get to work in difficult circumstances due to the decline in service provided by yourself and other Rail companies. It is unacceptable that you should penalise people who are unable to get tickets in a reasonable amount of time, and are honest enough to try and pay on arrival.
  • Given my partners experience described above, your policy is clearly inconsistent.

Issues regarding your Ticket Inspector
While queuing at the excess fare window I became aware of one of your ticket inspectors (collector number 4015) shouting at a female passenger. A man queuing in front of me turned round and remarked to the inspector that there was no need to be so rude. The inspector then went right up to this passenger and began arguing with him saying 'What's it got to do with you, let me get on with my job'. At this point I intervened and told the inspector his behaviour was unacceptable and asked him to fetch his supervisor. He told me to mind my own business. I told him his duty should be to fetch a supervisor when asked to do so when a passenger wished to complain, he said 'Don't point your finger at me or I'll call the police'.

I then asked the attendant at the excess fares window to fetch a supervisor, he also refused. I went off in search of another member of staff and spoke to Mr Hopps, the WAGN Duty Supervisor. Mr Hopps came with me to speak to the inspector who continued to shout at us (and Mr Hopps) and to be rude and hostile to both myself and the female passenger he was still dealing with. It came to the point where Mr. Hopps had to order the inspector to stand at some distance from us while he apologised and then had to stand over the inspector to ensure there was no further unacceptable behaviour from him while he wrote out the penalty fare notice.

  • Mr Hopps advised that disciplinary action would be taken, please advise if you have done so and what action was taken.
  • Is it WAGN policy for your staff to refuse to fetch a supervisor when requested to do so?
  • This whole incident delayed me at Liverpool Street for 45 minutes.

I have been commuting from Walthamstow to Liverpool St. since 1980. The service was reasonable up until it was taken over by WAGN. It then declined steadily and is now wholly unacceptable. In addition, you are penalising those of us who are just trying to get to work, and are quite happy to pay on arrival when you fail to provide adequate facilities for the purchase of tickets.

I am sorry if the tone of my letter appears immoderate, but I believe that the amount of anger, upset and frustration I am feeling is wholly due to your policy on unpaid fares which is unreasonable, badly thought out, inconsistently implemented and targets the wrong people.

The training of your inspectors is clearly flawed, this is not the first time I have witnessed inspectors shouting at passengers, and they appear only interested in issuing notices rather than exercising intelligence and judgement in cases where people are actually seeking to pay their fares but were unable to do so.

I am enclosing a cheque for the outstanding fine of 7:70, the amount is of small importance. What matters to me is that you have failed to provide me with a reasonable service, have penalised me for your failure, and have allowed your staff to treat me in an unacceptably rude and hostile manner.

If you have any concept of Customer Service, I would hope you agree to waive the penalty fare and return my cheque.

Yours Sincerely

Claudio Lo Brutto

January 11, 2002

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