BBC News recently reported that fare dodgers throughout London have cost Transport for London, or more commonly known as TFL, over £100 million per year. Each year fare dodgers find different ways to avoid paying fares when travelling across buses, trains and throughout other forms of transport in London. However, in recent months there has been a crackdown on those thinking they can avoid these fares, where a journey that costs less than £2 can then turn into a journey that costs £40 or £80.
There are a lot of reasons why people decide that they’re exempt from paying the full fare for their journey. Throughout living in London I really have heard every excuse under the sun, ranging from they forgot to top up their Oyster Card or their phone ran out of battery so they cannot prove they had tapped in. In other circumstances, the bus driver may let the passenger onto the bus in full knowledge and awareness that they have not paid their fare but may be fooled by the excuse “I’m only travelling for a few stops” or “I’m waiting for my pass to arrive in the post”. Even though these are valid reasons, they aren’t valid enough to excuse one person being exempt from paying when every other passenger has paid their fare. In a sense it’s like a slap in the face, if one person is let off then why shouldn’t everyone else be?
Many people will question how fare dodgers get through the barriers at stations as well as get onto buses without touching their Oyster Card or credit/debit card onto the yellow reader. The answer is unfortunately a lot easier than it sounds, on buses, passengers can simply state that they’ve lost their pass or simply jump on the back of the bus and move undetected. The most easiest maneuver would be following a passenger when they’re tapping in or out at a station, since some passengers will go through barriers that will stay open for longer. Even with the rise of technology that Transport for London are using to catch these fare dodgers, there will simply be too many people to catch and the cycle will begin again. Regardless, this is not an excuse for fare dodgers to keep on carrying out their act of avoidance since eventually they will be caught. Bus inspectors and plain clothes detectives could be anywhere and could be anyone - they simply hide in plain sight and wait for the right moment to confront those avoiding paying the full fare.
Fare evasion happens in many shapes and forms, there are hundreds of different reasons as to how fare evasion is committed. The most common being that people may not touch in and out when travelling throughout London - whether it be at their original destination or at their final destination. Another form of fare evasion would be using an Oyster Card that’s registered to someone whose entitled to free or discounted travel, these people being those with a Freedom Pass or an 11-15 Oyster Card. If caught by a ticket inspector then you would be charged a penalty fare for knowingly using a pass that doesn’t belong to you and the pass will then be taken off the person for abuse of the card. If you’re carrying an Oyster Card which requires additional information to be carried at all times when using the card and you’re found without this information, another penalty fare will be given out. Fare evasion has even gone as far as people buying an Oyster Card with Zones 1-2 on them and tapping in or out at these destinations and then avoiding tapping in or out when travelling beyond these zones. Therefore, they will avoid paying the correct fare that’s a lot more than what their current fare already is. Or more simply people will jump the barrier or walk straight through if the barriers are open, this is blatant fare evasion for fare dodgers that really have no care for paying their way.
Unsurprisingly, fare evasion happens a lot more commonly to those who do not commit fare evasion on purpose. For example, if I was travelling throughout rush hour and I tapped my Oyster Card on the reader while the barrier was open then I may mistake my card tapping for the person in front of me. Then if I got to my final destination and I was caught out by a ticket inspector then even though I didn’t evade the fare on purpose, there is no reason as to why I shouldn’t be given a penalty fare. It also happens to those travelling on London buses who may not be able to reach a reader if they get onto a packed bus or simply because they’re told that the machine isn’t working. Regardless, passengers have a responsibility to make sure that they have made an effort to pay their full fare. There is simply no excuse that will stand with a ticket inspector when you’re face to face with one throughout an unpaid journey. Moving forward, passengers should make sure that they’ve tapped in and out when travelling on the London Underground or tapping your card onto the reader when boarding a London bus.
Even though a journey here and there doesn’t seem much, in a sense it may be only a couple of pounds and pence, the overall reality comes out to over £100 million in unpaid fares for Transport for London. With this extra money Transport for London could easily make major improvements to the network as well as employing more people to make the transport network more efficient. In a sense, imagine having a smoother journey as well as improved station facilities across London. Even though those will argue that these penalty fares in turn cover the losses that Transport for London state, people forget that members of staff will be using their time and efforts elsewhere - these people also needing wages and essentially resources from Transport for London. As someone who travels throughout London it’s infuriating to see members of the public try and avoid a fare that can be as little as £1.50 - something that everyone needs to pay regardless of your objections as to why you shouldn’t.
Boxing Day, instead of spending the time at home with family or friends and enjoying the merry season, there are a large handful of people who just cannot miss out on incredible deals. In 2018, The Mirror reported that over 28 million people were out on Boxing Day all across the country spending millions upon millions - with discounts ranging from 50% to 90% at some stores. These deals can last for either a day or a few days but each year it’s dependent on stock.
How Are You Going To Get There?
As all public transport ceases to run on Christmas Day, Boxing Day will see some public transport running but with a limited service. For example, The London Underground will see a reduced service with it being compared to a Sunday service as tubes will depart later than usual as well as less tubes being available throughout the day. Regardless, I’ve used the Jubilee Line on Boxing Day and there was around a 8-10 minute wait for a tube whereas during the week I’d be able to wait less than a minute or two for one. Before going out to enjoy the sales make sure you check your route of transport - TFL provides a lot of information regarding services across numerous stations. More information can be found by clicking here.
Shopping Centres or The High Street?
On Boxing Day you should have a plan of where you’d like to go - list down all of the shops you know have discounts and deals that you simply cannot miss. For example, every year Lush have a 50% off sale on their Christmas items - the only sale throughout the whole year that Lush have as well as Next having a sale with up to 50% off. If you know the stores you’d like to go in then plan where you’d be better off going to. For example, if you live near a shopping centre but there’s nothing there - then don’t bother going! You’ll be caught up with the thousands of shoppers who have the same idea as you. If you visit Oxford Street then you’ll have a wide variety of shops to go to as well as being able to go outside and grab some fresh air if needed to.
Opening & Closing Times
Except from Next, which is set to open at 6am, there are reduced hours for shops and businesses opening on Boxing Day - similar to Sunday trading hours. If you get to a shop at 8am, which is the usual opening time, then I’d hope you’ve got your thermals on since you will be in for a shock. Even through using Google Maps the opening and closing times may not be fully listed as “hours may differ” - I’d do my research through social media and if anything ask the retailer themselves. However, if you’re an early bird then I’d recommend arriving around 10-15 minutes before opening and if you’re a late riser then around 1-2 hours before closing. These workers want to go home as soon as they can - not spend the last two minutes before the store closes serving customers who couldn’t come earlier.
Could You Avoid The Crowds and Shop Online?
Most companies will have both an in-store sale as well as a sale online whereas companies that only operate online, such as Amazon, will have unmissable deals on their website. If you can avoid the crowds and stay at home, with the chance to order your favourite items at the click of a button - then do it! You’d be able to relax from the comfort of your own home and avoid being shoved from side to side in the attempt to get £30 off a jacket you know you just don’t need. The only downside to shopping online throughout Boxing Day will be a long wait for your item as not only will the company be overwhelmed with purchases but postal companies such as Royal Mail will not deliver on New Year’s Day.
Returns & Exchanges
All these deals and offers may be exciting, so much so that you forget to ask the store you’re in what their returns and exchange policy is. The reason being is that Boxing Day allows retailers to get rid of merchandise that’s either going out of season or merchandise that they need to get rid of in general. Retailers are not obligated to give customers a refund nor exchange - so you may be stuck with that jacket that’s two sizes too small for you. Either way, there should be signs located near the tills and staff members should be able to explain the refund and exchange policy, if they have one, as some returns may be reduced from 28 days to 14 days. There may be the option of a credit note given instead of a full refund either in cash or on your debit/credit card.
Do You Really Need That?
The excitement of getting money off products that you would’ve paid full price for may lead shoppers to grab as much as the can for the sake of it. My advice would be to withdraw a certain about of cash, whether it be £20 or £100, so that once your money has run out - you can call it a day and return home. I admit I’m guilty of picking up bath bomb after bath bomb in Lush simply because it’s 50% off - I spent £70 in Lush in less than 5 minutes and my bank account really took a hit that day that it never recovered from. If you make a list of items you’d like to get, then stick to it - don’t feel tempted to buy something that you know you will not use and won’t come in handy in 6 months time. When you look at an item think if you will use it and if not then put it back on the shelf - someone else will find a use for it.
Bags, Bags & Even More Bags!
We’ve all been there - you spend £101.20 on an item but 5p for a plastic bag? Utterly outrageous. Even for online shopping, I’m willing to pay £400 for an item but £3.95 for delivery? No thank you. To avoid having to buy plastic bag upon plastic bag then buy durable and reusable bags. There’s bags that you can buy in Sports Direct or even Tesco which are around £1 but can carry a lot more than the standard 5p plastic bag - which also prevents the embarrassment of your bag ripping and clothes going everywhere. Not to mention you’re not doing anything for the environment if you keep buying bag upon bag that you know you don’t need, especially when you have another 100 in a cupboard at home. Additionally, keep your shopping separate from your receipts - you will spend hours upon hours searching for your receipts if you just shove them into a bag.
You’ve got your list, you’ve planned where you’re going to go and you’ve made a budget but have you thought about the weather? It could be raining or snowing, this weather is really unpredictable, you don’t want to be walking down Bond Street with Louboutin’s on trying to keep your balance. For just this once, I’m sure you can leave the heels at home and wear trainers or boots with a low heel. Make sure you’re warm by wearing a jacket that will keep you warm but not to the point where you begin sweating when shopping. If you’re going to leave early then make sure you have a good hearty breakfast and bring some water with you - there’s nothing worse than going out and possibly feeling faint as you’ve barely eaten or drunk anything.
Buy Ahead For Next Christmas!
As much as the idea of getting a t-shirt or a bag discounted is fun, think ahead - further, further and go 330 days ahead. One of my favourite places to visit on Boxing Day and the days towards New Year has to be Clintons and Card Factory and even stores such as Poundland, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Simply because all of their Christmas items will be reduced. Last year I bought most of my Christmas cards for 2019 for under £10 - which I would’ve spent around £30 on if I had bought them at full price. Even wrapping paper can be as cheap as 30p per roll compared to £1, it all helps and saves me buying it the following year. Even if I find Christmas books or books that children can colour in - I save it for a stocking filler for next year as they can cost as little as 10p. Either way, there are items such as luxury crackers that can be saved for the year after, with everyone thinking you spent a fortune but instead you've simply spent a few pennies or pounds.
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