In a day over two months time the OEP will be no more, but this is not stopping South Eastern from making a fast buck. They are blatantly targeting people who are about to have the correct fare for their journey deducted from the PAYG balance on their card. And these are people with travelcards stored on their Oyster card, often expensive annual ones. The phrase “biting the hand that feeds you” springs to mind here.
Here’s what happens. A passenger has a travelcard which doesn’t cover zone 1 and makes a journey into Central London. They probably haven’t heard about OEPs because very few people have. They go to touch out at Charing Cross and the gate rejects their card instructing them to “Seek assistance”. When they do they are issued with a £20 penalty fare. The gateline programming has been altered because Revenue Protection staff are present. At other times the gate would let people through and deduct the correct fare.
South Eastern, like all TOCs, have made very little effort to publicise OEPs. They were only bought in in January 2010 along with the roll-out of Oyster PAYG to National Rail in London. Many of the people being targeted will have had Oyster cards long before then because travelcards on Oyster have been accepted on National Rail for many years. They will not have received a leaflet telling them about OEPs. There are no posters at stations explaining about OEPs. Just how can issuing penalty fares for a requirement that has not been sufficiently publicised be fair?
Furthermore, OEPs were bought in to protect revenue when passengers were travelling out of London to where many stations are ungated and unstaffed. They were not intended to target people who would be forced to touch out anyway because the stations are fully staffed and gated.
Roll on May 22nd when this odious bunch of parasites will be forced to find a different way of making a mint.
See also this earlier post including a comment received this morning.