Posted by: scottishboomerang | February 29, 2008

Getting the better of Rip-Off Britain

The life of the ordinary Britisher is one long merry-go-round trying to  prevent greedy corporates whacking you with extra charges, in an effort to keep the spiraling cost of living down. Part of this is of course our own fault. Unlike the French, who will merrily overturn a bus or block a highway in order to voice their protest, the British are a hopelessly law abiding accepting bunch, who put up with stuff, moan about it, but rarely every involve themselves in direct forms of negotation with the Powers that Be, who are more often than not corporates, rather than government agencies.

It’s my hope that Brits become more “turning worms”. Things are just too expensive here, and needlessly so. But its all the sneaky extra charges – from vending machines and bus drivers that never give you change, to those premium rate numbers  you have to call to get any kind of customer service (these days, I fax their head office with my efax or write an old fashioned letter to their legal department, not their customer service department.  Oh yes. They ALL have legal departments).  I come back to Britain and am depressed with the situation.

But when you score a point against the system, it feels good. Damn good. Like this Tuesday, when the ticket barrier at Liverpool Street Station let me through, but ate my ticket.  Other people were given back their tickets. Mine was eaten. My train due to leave for Standsted Airport in in a few minutes. I boarded the train. (The cynic in me thinks that these ticket barriers are set up to randomly swallow tickets to get more money from passengers, but let’s give National Express the benefit of the doubt).

When the ticket inspector came round, I said.

“I’m sorry, the ticket barrier ate my ticket.”

The inspector was about to start on the standard ” you must have a valid ticket to travel” speech when I stopped her dead in her tracks:

“But thats ok, ” I said. “Because you have CCTV footage of me at the station at 7:30am buying my ticket, and at 7:35 putting my ticket in the barrier and walking through the open gate, and at 7:36 trying to get my ticket out of the barrier. So there’s no need to charge me for another ticket, is there?”

There wasn’t.

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