The purpose of this message is to raise awareness about SBB’s fining methodology, and to expose such behaviour among this community.
A couple of months ago I was given a fine for activating the easy ride 20 seconds too late. Departure time: 15:02 hs, activation time: 15:02. So, within the same minute.
I understand the terms and conditions, but in the end, rules and laws must be interpreted and analysed consciously. A plain text cannot consider all possible scenarios.
As I got to the train platform I needed to make a decision and had two options:
1- Miss the train.
2- Get on the train and buy a ticket or activate easy ride.
i chose option 2, and easyride activation. As you may have realised, the app takes sometimes several seconds to complete the geolocation. But I was finally able to activate it on time (or that’s what I thought).
Half an hour later, the controller came and I confidently showed my ticket. She said I activated it too late and gave me a fine. I am not going to elaborate here on how much I tried to explain that she was making a wrong decision, that there is no way someone could conclude I was trying to cheat; nor will I comment on her rudeness and unprofessional attitude.
Long story short, I was given a fine for not having a valid ticket. Total amount: 125 CHF (35 CHF for the ticket, 90 CHF for the fine -“surcharge”-).
Not to my surprise, and contradictory enough, I received an invoice from SBB for my trip using easy ride, and was charged for it 35 CHF. Therefore, the ticket, as per SBB, was valid.
So, as funny and annoying as it sounds, SBB charged me for a valid ticket and -at the same time - gave me a fine that included the ticket fare and the surcharge for “not having a valid ticket”.
When I called customer service, they offered me a discount of the surcharge from 90 to 30 CHF, and of course removed the ticket value from it. So, the debt was immediately changed from 125 CHF to 30 CHF. What a nice gesture from SBB, isn’t it?
This, and many other cases I’ve known of, tell me that SBB considers fines a profit centre. And while 125, or 30 CHF, might not be too much for one customer. Imagine how much money they make taking money from millions of passengers just because they think they can do it.
The majority of the people will pay because they don’t want to spend time arguing, simply don’t want to argue, or because they are afraid of being involved in the bigger problem: “the debtors black list”. Ihave exchanged too many emails with the SBB team and we have not been able to solve the dispute. For me, It’s not about the 30 CHF, which would have actually been 125 CHF had I not called SBB to complain. It’s about fairness, customer abuse avoidance, and differentiating right from wrong.
I encourage us to stop this.
Because SBB knows that we can’t choose another service provider, they do whatever they want. Those of us who don’t own a car have to use the train. And SBB is the only option.
Note: lately, we’ve been experiencing a poor service on a regular basis, with cancellations, delays, missed connections, that make us arrive late to work or home. BUT, SBB gives me a fine because I activated easyride 20 seconds too late.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.