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Southern Trains at Gatwick Airport Train Station are rip-off merchants preying on the unwary traveller.

The Fast Ticket Machines are seemingly set up to cheat foreign visitors and others who are unwary or have limited english.

if you want to go from Gatwick to London Victoria there are 2 options (i'm not counting Blackfriars then Tube for the purposes of this rant)

1 hideously expensive Gatwick "Express" - the fact that there are no stops en route is about the only thing going for it, except perhaps at peak times in terms of space on the train and extra luggage space.

2 Southern Trains - only a few minutes slower than the "Express" and stops at East Croydon and Clapham Junction.


When you first approach the machine you can choose London Victoria (any Service) or London Victoria (Southern Only)  the bits in brackets are shown much smaller than the destination on screen.

OK at this point you know what service you want and make your choice:

I chose Southern Only - I expected to then have to choose whether I wanted to travel First Class or Standard but no, despite clearly making a choice to travel via Southern Only - the choice of prices showed the (via Any Service) prices including First Class.

The Southern Only service was NOT displayed on this first screen-full of prices - I had to choose the Next Page Option to see the (via Southern Only) Price.  I.e the machine is set up to make every effort to obscure the cheaper price from you even when you have specifically requested it.

So, as far as I am concerned, this means that the Fast Ticket machines are set up to over-ride any specific choice of service that is made and try to overcharge every customer (I don't think that you can legitimately call it up-selling in this case).

I feel sorry for anyone who cannot read english well enough to catch out the machine, is jet-lagged, or assumes that having made the choice of via Southern Only that they wouldn't have to make it again.

It makes me wonder how many passengers get onto a Southern train heading for Victoria when they've actually paid for a Gatwick Express ticket?
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May 2009

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