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Old 08.10.2012, 15:14
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

Dear OP, I am so sorry about your experience. Hope you are able to win your case. I think you should also be compensated for your psychological damage, i.e. the SBB should give you two complimentary day cards to go on another trip.
As for SBB day cards, I have validated them plenty of times in Zurich ZVV machines and never had any problems with inspectors.
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  #42  
Old 08.10.2012, 15:26
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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You have tried with the train inspector, you have tried with Zurich station.

I would contact 20 Minuten, it makes a nice story, Geneva resident called a liar by Swiss German ticket inspector.

Write to Bern and ask for an apology, and a clean record.
Thanks for the good suggestion! My husband also felt it was a fine idea and so I have written to our local 20 Minutes and sent them all the documentation. They are on the case.

My letter to Bern should also go out tomorrow.

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There was recently an article in the Blick am Abend about over-aggressive inspectors on the night trains, trams etc in Zürich. The ZVV representative quoted said customers should take down the details of such individuals and report the matter in writing if they feel wrongly treated.

Cheers,
Nick
Pity I did not think to write down this lady's name; I shall keep it in mind for next time.

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Only the train or station personnel are permitted to validate the ticket by handwriting (although it is not written on the ticket...):
http://data.ch-direct.org/Tarife/SBB/T652_d.pdf

Next time ask the bus driver to validate the ticket, if he doesn't or can't, validate it at the next train station.
This is the first I am hearing of it; it never came up.

Not with the SBB lady who fined us.

Not with her colleague on the same train, who did not care that we had been fined unfairly.

Not with the fellow in Zurich who "could not believe" that there were no validation machines at Geneva bus stops.

Not with his counterpart in Geneva who refused to get involved and redirected me to Bern.

Not with the two Customer Service ladies I spoke with this morning who, after hearing all the facts, admitted I was right.

If this is the case, then someone should have said it and it should be made more clear on the actual ticket. I do not believe it is the case.

No one ever asked me whose handwriting was on the ticket, and whether it was a bus driver's. In Geneva, it is not customary to show your ticket - whatever it is - to the bus drivers; it only comes up when ticket checkers get on board for a spontaneous check.

In fact, all the SBB personnel I have spoken to have confirmed that it is fine for passengers to write the date themselves. The only issue is that you can only write in the event that there are no machines available. I contended that this is the case with Geneva bus stops, and three SBB staff told me straight out that I was lying. How would that make you feel?

The Customer Service reps I spoke with today, who were French and knew the situation in Geneva, agreed that I was right after much hemming and hawing. Apparently, if I had asked for the bill to be sent to my address (I wasn't even given that option), it could have been cancelled, but now it is a bit more complicated to get a reimbursement. I shall send all the documentation to them and see what happens.

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Interesting to know this. But I wonder what is the difference between the handwriting of a station personnel and yours?
Exactly.

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Maybe she couldn't read your handwriting?
It is not that hard to write a date legibly, and we did. Believe me, this never came up either.

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add: CC to Transport ombudsman !!
If only I knew his/ her name!
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  #43  
Old 08.10.2012, 15:43
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

Good luck OP, hope your case is resolved soon!
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Old 08.10.2012, 16:32
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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In the morning in the crowded bus, the driver often refused to sell tickets and you had to buy your ticket at the train station. With the bus being usually a few minutes late during the rush-hour, I missed my train on many days.
Is this legally allowed, (the bus driver) refusing to sell a ticket simply because (actually the bus is running late) you're running late? I'd expect this sort of thing in the UK, but not here in Switzerland...

Otherwise, I'm with the OP (who did nothing wrong!) and the many who suggest a formal letter of complaint and demanding a refund; not a bad idea targeting the CEO. I also like the idea of pitching the story to Blick/20 Minutes if no joy from the letter to the CEO.

Last edited by c123; 08.10.2012 at 16:42. Reason: clarification
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Old 08.10.2012, 18:38
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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I also like the idea of pitching the story to Blick/20 Minutes if no joy from the letter to the CEO.
Don't think you will get too much traction. There was already a story on this type of situation in 2007:
http://www.ktipp.ch/themen/beitrag/1...werter_defekt_
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  #46  
Old 08.10.2012, 19:11
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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Is this legally allowed, (the bus driver) refusing to sell a ticket simply because (actually the bus is running late) you're running late? I'd expect this sort of thing in the UK, but not here in Switzerland...
The bus driver is not allowed to sell tickets while the bus is in motion. This leaves us with two options a) The bus driver sells tickets but the bus will be late for the train for absolutely everyone on the bus. or b) most of the people will catch the train but the few that will need a ticket at the train station will miss the train. I think most of the people will prefer option b).
Solutions: Get a multi pass or buy your ticket in advance through the Internet.
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  #47  
Old 08.10.2012, 19:12
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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Interesting to know this. But I wonder what is the difference between the handwriting of a station personnel and yours? Or station personnes must have a handy validating device or so, otherwise how controllers can distinguish whose handwriting it is?
I had similar case last week. The ticket validating machine in one of our local buses is broken. Which is good, because during the previous 3 months it stamped the time on the wrong line and crumpled the ticket so that the other machines do not accept this ticket afterwards - now I have a hope that it will be fixed finally. So, the bus driver wrote the date, time and the name of the station where I entered the bus on my Tageswahlkarte by hand.

On my way back I got my ticket checked by the inspector and he said that it is not valid. I said that the bus driver did it. He got out of the bus with me on my station and called someone (probably at his office), then that person contacted the driver and the driver confirmed that I tell the truth. The inspector said that the drives should have left his signature on the ticket. So, he put his own signature and made a square hole in the ticket with the special device. He claimed that after that my ticket became valid, but I had no chance to check because I did not met other inspectors anymore on that day.

The good thing is that I was alone, had plenty of time and did not have to change to the train. In 99% of cases I am travelling with my small child and have very little time between arrival of the bus and departure of the train.
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  #48  
Old 08.10.2012, 20:09
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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Don't think you will get too much traction. There was already a story on this type of situation in 2007:
http://www.ktipp.ch/themen/beitrag/1...werter_defekt_
That does not make it a story any less worth telling, as a cautionary tale to my fellow travelers coming from Geneva. I guess I was fortunate my fine was so much smaller!

As for traction, I don't really have any stake in what happens to the story once it is published; I would just like the SBB to acknowledge that to treat me the way they did - when I was acting in good faith and following their own instructions - was wrong.

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I had similar case last week. The ticket validating machine in one of our local buses is broken. Which is good, because during the previous 3 months it stamped the time on the wrong line and crumpled the ticket so that the other machines do not accept this ticket afterwards - now I have a hope that it will be fixed finally. So, the bus driver wrote the date, time and the name of the station where I entered the bus on my Tageswahlkarte by hand.

On my way back I got my ticket checked by the inspector and he said that it is not valid. I said that the bus driver did it. He got out of the bus with me on my station and called someone (probably at his office), then that person contacted the driver and the driver confirmed that I tell the truth. The inspector said that the drives should have left his signature on the ticket. So, he put his own signature and made a square hole in the ticket with the special device. He claimed that after that my ticket became valid, but I had no chance to check because I did not met other inspectors anymore on that day.

The good thing is that I was alone, had plenty of time and did not have to change to the train. In 99% of cases I am travelling with my small child and have very little time between arrival of the bus and departure of the train.
How interesting! And what if in the meantime your driver's shift had ended and he could not be reached by phone? Really, if it is absolutely verboten to write by hand on the tickets, then they should change the wording and be explicit about that instead of going on about only using a ballpoint, etc, etc.
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Old 09.10.2012, 08:12
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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The bus driver is not allowed to sell tickets while the bus is in motion. This leaves us with two options a) The bus driver sells tickets but the bus will be late for the train for absolutely everyone on the bus. or b) most of the people will catch the train but the few that will need a ticket at the train station will miss the train. I think most of the people will prefer option b).
Solutions: Get a multi pass or buy your ticket in advance through the Internet.
Ok, i'll go for option a .
Seriously, if tickets can be bought on the bus, then I see no reason why I should not be able to buy one. Sometimes it's not possible to plan everything in advance. If this causes problems, there's a simple solution - stop selling tickets on the bus!

As for the rules (according to the sbb PDF from June 2012) saying that you may not write the date in, the ticket itself contradicts this rule.

I'm with the OP who did nothing wrong, and had the day spoiled because of what sounds like a power crazed inconsiderate ticket inspector.
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Old 09.10.2012, 12:01
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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I'm pretty sure that no Swiss town has bus-ticket machines that can be used to validate day cards.
Solothurn buses have "Entwerter" machines on the buses, and on the machines at bus stops. Bern bus stop machines have built in slots for "cancelling" the tickets.

As the OP has explained, many times, where she lives there are no machines.
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Old 09.10.2012, 13:05
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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In fact, all the SBB personnel I have spoken to have confirmed that it is fine for passengers to write the date themselves. The only issue is that you can only write in the event that there are no machines available. I contended that this is the case with Geneva bus stops, and three SBB staff told me straight out that I was lying. How would that make you feel?
.
TBH, I wouldn't take it personally. In all these years I've been here, I've encountered more than one Swiss German who is 100% convinced that everything in the French part is exactly the same as it is in the German part when we know that is not true.

It's their hard-headedness/refusal to believe anything could be different that is a problem, not you. At a certain point there is no use arguing with them as they are not going to change thier minds. You told them what's what. They still believe they are right. Now take it up with HQ and then let it go. I know sometimes it's easier said than done.

Remember, it's not you, it's them.
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  #52  
Old 09.10.2012, 15:28
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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Ok, i'll go for option a .
As for the rules (according to the sbb PDF from June 2012) saying that you may not write the date in, the ticket itself contradicts this rule.
... and end scene. Thank you. I got quoted that line by a couple of SBB personnel (and the reporter from 20min who is following up got told this too) but it is not stated anywhere on the ticket. There is lots of space for more fine print - which maybe they think no one reads, but we did - so if they want to stipulate that, they should go right ahead and add it. Bringing it up after the fact seems like entrapment to me.

As for the PDF, I don't even know how one could find that (and in French) starting from their home page.


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TBH, I wouldn't take it personally. In all these years I've been here, I've encountered more than one Swiss German who is 100% convinced that everything in the French part is exactly the same as it is in the German part when we know that is not true.

It's their hard-headedness/refusal to believe anything could be different that is a problem, not you. At a certain point there is no use arguing with them as they are not going to change thier minds. You told them what's what. They still believe they are right. Now take it up with HQ and then let it go. I know sometimes it's easier said than done.

Remember, it's not you, it's them.
Thank you so much for the reassurance; I do see things in a new light after reading your post. The controller kept going on about how ticket machines in Fribourg and Palezieux can validate SBB tickets, so she was sure it was the same in Geneva. As she has now been informed (I hope), even if those towns are also French-speaking it doesn't mean everything there is exactly the same as it is in Geneva.

Be that as it may, I am still appalled when I think of the Customer Service agent's flat-out refusal to call his colleagues in Geneva to check my story. Isn't that his job? Oh, well.


Thank you very much to everyone who has read and commented on this unfortunate episode. An update:

- Yesterday morning, I called Customer Service in Bern, was put through to a French speaker, and after I explained the entire story, she agreed I was right to seek reimbursement. She redirected me to Service du Contentieux.

- I spoke with a staff member at Service du Contentieux, who after quizzing me on several aspects (including how far it was I lived from the station that I could not have walked there to validate my ticket!) agreed that I was right but said that it was impossible to cancel a fine I had already paid (which also could not be traced in the system since it had simply been recorded as a payment) and so asked me to send in all the documentation so they could see if reimbursement was possible. My letter is in the mail today.

After these two - mostly positive - developments, I decided it was not necessary to write to the CEO as well, at least for the time being. After all, both SBB agents I had spoken with via phone seemed to see my side of things.

Still, I wanted the cautionary tale to be told to other Geneva residents who might have purchased these Migros tickets (there was a large ad campaign to sell them), might need to get from their homes to the station, might write on their tickets to validate them for the bus in the absence of a machine... and find themselves in the pickle I was in. You know, like EF'er Anjela.

So I sent the story to 20min, they are following up, and it should appear tomorrow. Apparently the SBB agrees I should be compensated, and agrees their staff should be better apprised of the lack of validation machines on the TPG network. Hopefully that will be that and everyone will have learned something from all this.

And I feel vindicated, so all is well. Will let you know if and when I am offered that promised reimbursement.

@Anjela: the answer to the question of whether you should write on your ticket is still maybe. I asked the journalist to follow up with the TPG on whether their drivers really do have appropriate stamping equipment...
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  #53  
Old 09.10.2012, 15:40
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

Having a little date-stamp seemed to depend totally on which driver was working the line, some did, some didn't. Most not.
So it was usually a quick scribble onto the card, not always signed, just dated.

Annoyingly I'd bought my travel pass in early September just before the offer ended (it's still valid until late November), then went on holiday for two weeks and can't remember where I'd put it 'for safely'!
Hopefully it'll turn up soon and I can test the system.
I'll be setting off from Carouge and that's certainly not within walking distance of Cornavin.
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Old 09.10.2012, 15:53
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

What a mess. I thought Swiss transportation was the envy of the world. I thought nearly every rule was so carefully constructed that there was no ambiguity (and thus no need for lawyers).

Now the mighty SBB can't agree with itself that the terms printed on the actual ticket are the truth? Really??? If the new rule is that one cannot handwrite the date, then there needs to be a policy in place for what one does when there is no machine or bus driver with a puncher to validate the ticket. And THAT needs to be on the ticket itself.

Okay, suppose the old rule is pre-printed on the ticket paper, and they have not run out of that paper yet. Fine, make the new rule effective once all the old paper has run out.

Surely this should not be so complicated.
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Old 11.10.2012, 07:22
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

Dear All -

Here is the link to the article on the 20 Minutes website. It appeared in their paper today:

http://www.20min.ch/ro/news/geneve/s...mende-15476481

I chose the pseudonym "Angela" because my own first name begins and ends with an "a" and is often mispronounced as such... nothing to do with fellow Geneva EF'er Anjela . Chose not to attach my face and real name to the story either, there IS as a limit to how far I will go to get CHF 20 back...

The story ended up a bit abbreviated - all the facts are there but I do wish the journalist would have added a line about how not just one controller but three SBB agents, including their Customer Service, were ignorant of the facts about Geneva buses. But the point seems to have been made anyway and the commenters on their website are sympathetic.


Conclusion (taken from the article):


- The TPG has confirmed that their ticket vending machines DO NOT validate SBB tickets.

- The TPG advises passengers who find themselves in a similar situation (taking the bus/ tram to the station with an undated ticket) to write on the tickets, following SBB rules on the back of the tickets, exactly as I did. Note that they did not suggest approaching the bus drivers...

- The SBB admits that it should educate agents better about the non-availability of ticket validation machines on public transport networks in Geneva and Lausanne.

- The SBB also admits that what happened to me should not have happened, and that my fine will be reimbursed.


I will leave things here for now and see what happens in terms of getting my money back - if I hear nothing from them in a couple of weeks and I still have the energy for this I might do a bit of "prodding".


As for whether I will be following this article's advice and writing on a blank ticket myself a next time- no, not after what happened. Once bitten and all that.

If someone else (Anjela, once you find your ticket? ) wants to give it a try and report back... please do, by all means. We are all curious...
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Old 11.10.2012, 08:32
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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Dear All -

Here is the link to the article on the 20 Minutes website. It appeared in their paper today:

http://www.20min.ch/ro/news/geneve/s...mende-15476481
I think it's really great that you got this story published! Well done for going all the way!
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Old 11.10.2012, 08:47
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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I think it's really great that you got this story published! Well done for going all the way!
Yes Angela, good for you, I read it in the Lausanne version this a.m. and immediately linked it up to this thread.
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Old 11.10.2012, 08:48
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

I was just reading the article in the French version of the paper. I felt great that the took up the case. Well done. But the "color" of the hand in the picture was also saying another "story" the paper used for making the story more spicy!
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Old 11.10.2012, 09:30
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

Saw the story in 20 Minutes and am glad for the OP that it has sorted itself out.
Actually, in my opinion, the requirement to write the date by hand, written on the back of the ticket, over-rules the standard terms and conditions of the CFF.
Remember, ticket inspectors have very limited rights. They cannot arrest you and you aren't even obliged to show them ID (other than a half-price card or GA if they're inspecting tickets). They would be obliged to call the police to do that. Also, under no circumstances should you sign anything you don't agree with. If they present you with a document that has something you don't agree with (for example, the document says you don't have a valid ticket), cross that bit out and write by hand exactly what you have - Migros day pass, with date written by hand, in accordance with the instructions on the ticket, in this case. You haven't committed any offence and leave the ball in their court - force the CFF to take action, not the other way round.
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Old 11.10.2012, 09:51
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Re: SBB Complaint: Fined for handwriting date on day pass

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I was just reading the article in the French version of the paper. I felt great that the took up the case. Well done. But the "color" of the hand in the picture was also saying another "story" the paper used for making the story more spicy!
That was indeed MY hand, and those were indeed our tickets.

I asked the reporter not to make that a central aspect of the story, but readers and observers are free to draw whatever conclusions they want.

Now, if they had taken a picture of my husband's hand, it would have been less "spicy" as you say...

I think all of that is beside the point, though; our controller was in a bad mood that day and in fact she had been arguing with the passengers in front of us even before she got to us. I didn't know what the issue was in that case, but I remember thinking; "Good thing we have everything in order!". Famous last words.
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