Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 16 Jan 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about a penalty charge notice. This is because she has exercised her right of appeal to the appropriate body.
- The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mrs X, complains she was issued with a penalty charge notice because she did not have enough credit on her Oyster Card.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
- it is unlikely we would find fault, or
- there is another body better placed to consider this complaint.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered Mrs X’s complaint to the Ombudsman and the information she provided. I also gave Mrs X the opportunity to comment on a draft statement before issuing a final decision on her complaint.
What I found
- Mrs X complains she was issued with a penalty charge notice due to insufficient funds on her Oyster Card. Mrs X says she alerted rail staff as soon as she was aware of the situation.
- Mrs X has unsuccessfully made representations to TfL and then appealed to the Independent Appeals Service (IAS). The IAS is run by the Independent Revenue Collection and Support, which was set up to facilitate appeals against penalty fares and unpaid fare notices. The IAS did not uphold Mrs X’s appeal.
- I understand Mrs X is unhappy her appeal was unsuccessful. But this in itself is not evidence of fault. The Ombudsman is not an appeal body, and we are not an alternative to the IAS. Mrs X has exercised the appeal right available to her and so the Ombudsman will not investigate her complaint.
- Also, if Mrs X wishes to continue to dispute the penalty, she can refuse to pay it. It would be for Transport for London to decide whether they should recover the penalty through the courts. Mrs X would then have a final opportunity to put her case to a magistrate, although she would run the risk have having a criminal record if she lost her case.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint. This is because she has exercised her right of appeal to the appropriate body.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman