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Beware buying GNR train tickets online with PayPal

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I bought two sets of tickets online at the Great Northern site this morning, expecting to pick them up at the machine at Brookmans Park station in half an hour. The payment options were 1) PayPal, and 2) credit card. I chose PayPal, paid, and then received a confirmation email with a transaction code. The email said I could collect the ticket in half an hour. An hour later I went down to Brookmans Park station to get my tickets. At the station ticket machine I followed the onscreen prompts for picking up pre-paid tickets, but came a cropper at the prompt to "please insert the credit card used to purchase the ticket". I pressed next, because I paid with PayPal (the first option on the GN site) and I don't have a credit card for my PayPal account. I was then taken back to the start page. I read through the info on my print out, which I had with me, and saw it reads "To collect your tickets from a ticket machine you will need both your collection reference and any credit or debit card. So conflicting information between what is printed on the booking confirmation and what appears on the screen at the station. I tried again with one of my credit cards. It then asked for my transaction number. I tapped it in and it started to print. At that point a big red cross came up on the screen saying transaction void 'please contact ticket office' (which is closed on a Sunday). So why does Great Northern encourage people to pay with PayPal for collection at the local station when the machine at the local station won't process the transaction? A question I have asked on Twitter.

Why does @GNRailUK let passengers pay for tickets online with PayPal but ask for credit card used at machine and then voids ticket?— bpnewsletter (@bpnewsletter) July 16, 2017
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They need better software testers!

I had the issue where the machine would not dispense off-peak tickets for the first off-peak train of the day. They answered my complaint with a boiler-plate response along the lines of their continuously improving their systems. Presumably, getting things right first time would impact their ability to follow this mantra.

After that issue, I too ordered on-line, to work around it, but avoided PayPal as I wondered about validation issues when collecting tickets. Having been a software tester, I'm suspicious like that!


--- Quote from: Nimbus on July 16, 2017, 04:23:00 pm ---After that issue, I too ordered on-line, to work around it, but avoided PayPal as I wondered about validation issues when collecting tickets. Having been a software tester, I'm suspicious like that!

--- End quote ---

I have learnt my lesson. Back home, I went through the process again (without buying) just to see if there was a warning during the transaction that people buying with PayPal would not be able to print their tickets out from the station ticket machine. But, unless I missed it, and I did look carefully, there is no warning. So they should really say that if you want to collect from the machine you should not use PayPal.

It will be interesting to see what I am told when I go in person to collect my tickets from the ticket office. I hope they don't need to see the card that I didn't use to pay via PayPal. If they do I will be really stuffed.

An update on the PayPal train ticket saga. The guy at the Brookmans Park station ticket office was able to issue my tickets without any problem this morning. It took less than a minute. And if the machine does refuse to print out tickets for trips on the day of travel you can claim your money back using the online form on the Great Northern money back guarantee page.

I presume that so long as you've got your reference number as proof of payment you can get on the train anyway and get your ticket from, either an inspector or office.  The problem with that is if you have a connection to catch.
As you said, 'lesson learnt'!


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