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Ticket To Ride October 7, 2012

Posted by Audit Monkey in The Joy & Pain of Internal Audit.
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As my two regular readers will know, I commute via rail from the suburbs of South London to the City or Docklands to conduct my business as a member of the Financial Services elite. I dislike buying monthly or yearly season tickets and prefer weekly tickets as they are less hassle; unlike monthly or annual tickets, you don’t have provide a photocard to accompany the ticket or provide the cash in advance for future travel. (Yes, I know firms provide season ticket loans but being an Internal Auditor, you don’t necessarily know where you are likely to be one week to the next).

International readers will focus on the use of ‘photocard’. Rail companies insist on the use of photocards (which have a unique serial number) with monthly or annual season tickets for two reasons. If the user loses their ticket, the train company will replace the lost card for gratis. (The train company maintains a record of tickets issued against photocards). The user has a number graces for lost cards to prevent fraud. Obviously, it works the other way, the user can not pass their monthly or annual season ticket to a third party to use as the ticket must be used with the photocard to which it was issued.

So far, so good. So where’s my beef? My local rail company has decided to reinstate the use of photocards with weekly rail tickets. Why? To prevent fraud. Now, I have some issues with this. One, rail companies usually don’t replace lost or stolen weekly railcards due to the sums involved. Second, given my circumstances, how the hell am I going to commit a fraud? My ticket is firmly lodged in my pocket between the hours of 7.30am to 7.00pm, Monday to Friday. Yes, I could let another party borrow it at the weekend but it’s hardly grand theft auto. Given that the rail firm usually does it’s engineering on a Sunday, it simply isn’t worth the hassle.

Well I challenged my rail company on this very point at a ‘Meet the Managers’ thing at a London mainline station and push them for an answer. I got “you may travel on Monday and give it to your wife [another] to use on Tuesday”. Oh please. When I’m sitting in an office in London? Foxtrot oscar, Foxtrot oscar. It’s pathetic and do you know the real reason why it’s pathetic? Because they are missing the big fraud. And I’m going to tell you what it is and how it is done.

Users only buy Travelcards for zones 1 to 3 to cover them in central London (and automatic ticket barriers) despite the fact they commute in from zones 5 to 6, etc. These stations usually don’t have ticket barriers. I know people who do this and they save thousands. They know the rail companies only perform limited ticket inspections on trains and stations in the outer zones, so will only get caught ticketless and fined once in a blue moon.

So, you can see that insisting on a photocard with a weekly rail ticket is a pretty small beer in the grander scheme of things.


1. ITmonkey101 - October 8, 2012

It’s the illusion of doing something. It’s what keeps people in jobs but without the hassle of actually doing anything constructive.
I would question why you can’t transfer the ticket if you don’t use it. What’s the cost to them? It should be yours to use as you see fit. If it’s only used once per day then what’s the beef?

2. Audit Monkey - October 14, 2012

I just think if the photocard system was used in NYC.

Tourist “Can I have a seven day metro card please?”

Ticket Office Clerk in board New Yorker accent “Have you got a photocard?”

Tourist “Er..no. I’m from Chipping Sodbury in England.”

Ticket Office Clerk “Look Mac, you need a photocard. You are holding up the line”.

Tourist “Where does one get a photocard?”

Ticket Office Clerk “The Drugstore across the street on 8th and 34th”.

Tourist “Excuse, I know we’re two nations divided by a common language, can you please say that again?”

Ticket Office Clerk “Across the street at the Pharmacy. Next! Move along now. Next!”

Tourist in typical British mode “How much will it cost?”

Ticket Office Clerk “Next!”

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