St Albans commuter wins £2,000 in FCC season ticket overcharging case (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)
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St Albans commuter, Andrew Myers, wins £2,000 in First Capital Connect season ticket overcharging case
A St Albans man has successfully sued First Capital Connect over a ticket row, after noticing city commuters have been paying £700 more for a season ticket than a neighbouring town.
Following a court hearing today at St Albans County Court, in Bricket Road, Andrew Myers has been paid off £2,193.96 by the train bosses.
In November last year he logged online and realised a season ticket for people travelling to and from St Albans City was £3,908, in comparison to a season ticket for people travelling to and from Watford North was £3,200.
After his findings, he purchased a Watford North season ticket, £700 cheaper, after reading a Network Rail journey planner online, which states people can make “any route to zones 1 and 6 with a season ticket.”
Mr Myers said: “I was just browsing online when I realised it was £700 cheaper, so decided to buy the Watford North ticket on the basis it was a valid ticket.
“The amount is considerably higher. We are talking about a shed load.”
Mr Myers is a commercial litigation solicitor of 20 years, who works and commutes to London everyday.
After travelling for two months with his season ticket, it was not until January this year that Mr Myers was told he could not travel because his “ticket was invalid” and he would have to instead purchase a valid ticket from the St Albans station.
When approached about his “invalid ticket”, despite showing the station’s member of staff the Network Rail journey planner, Mr Myers was refused entry and forced to buy another season ticket.
Mr Myers said: “I decided to buy another ticket because I would not be able to travel to work otherwise.
“I thought I would leave it down to the courts to make their judgement and decide.”
The businessman filed for his claim at the start of February this year.
During initial proceedings with FCC, the train bosses refused to accept liability and insisted the Watford North ticket was invalid because Mr Myers was travelling from St Albans.
However findings by Mr Myers, which were read out in court, using the Data Protection Act showed emails back and forth from FCC staff in correspondence with Association of Train Operating Companies, which show FCC accepting the Watford North season ticket was in fact valid.
In an email exchange throughout March, Julie Allan, FCC customer relations manager, said: “This could mean major financial implications” and later, Roy Cooper from FCC admitted: “We have to assess this loop hole and similar ones asap.”
Despite these exchanges earlier on, FCC still refused to accept liability during court proceedings.
With a change of heart in August, FCC contacted Mr Myers and said they had in fact accepted liability because the ticket was valid and offered a settlement of costs, on a no disclosure basis.
However Mr Myers refused to accept compensation on a no disclosure basis because it was a “matter of public importance.”
He said he wanted to have his day in court because he wanted to ensure he was paid for the 16 hours of his personal time he had given up, which FCC had not offered in initial settlement offers.
At the court hearing today, he said: “FCC for some time, have been charging St Albans commuters more than £700 more for a season ticket than people in a neighbouring place.
“I think the public should know about this.”
While district Judge Matthews said: “The claimant is entitled to proceed and have his day in court.”
Mr Myers was also paid off £288 for his time of 16 hours spent during the case.
Judge Matthews ruled FCC had acted with “unfair misconduct” because they had failed to accept liability in initial proceedings despite appearing to know the ticket was valid.
Andrew Trimble, the solicitor representing FCC, said he wanted to reassure other commuters that changes to this year’s season tickets are currently taking place.
After the hearing, Mr Myers added: “I am feeling really good.
“It is has been nerve racking, even though I have been doing this job for 20 years, it isn’t quite the same when you are defending yourself.
“Sometimes it takes a little man to stand up to the big man.”
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