Conclusion

Array

Finally got through to someone on the phone today, which is a shame, because as a consequence I had to pay the two fines. If I hadn’t been able to get through today I would have tried again next week, and if that still failed, well, I would have forgotten about it.

They wanted to charge me an extra $19 or so per fine for paying it late, but after I contested that with the lady – explaining that I’d been trying to get through for about a month – she put me on hold for a bit, and inevitably put the charge through for $300 total. Or at least, she better have, otherwise they’ll be getting a nice shiny charge back come next week.

Anyway, it’s kind of annoying to do this, but ultimately I’ve still won in all senses. The first fine I think was disproportionate, but in principle not unwarranted, so I can cop paying that. The second was of course complete bullshit, but I know that, and payment certainly isn’t a concession of morale victory.

In fiscal terms, I’ve garned thousands from Centrelink over the years, so all things considered I’m still way out in front. As for Yarra Trams, well, they pocketed a whole $40 from this little escapade, which is about two or three weeks tickets. But now I’ve got a license and I’m getting a car, and sure as hell won’t be using trams anymore, so, it won’t be long until it becomes their loss, well and truly.

A very sad debacle. But, pretty trivial all in all, so I won’t be worrying about it further. Time to start getting excited about my trip, and all the shiny red tape I’ll have to barge through once I get there – SSN’s, licenses, bank accounts, etc… great fun. 🙂

So, do you want my money or not?

Array

So I got the usual response back, yadda yadda, boilerplate, insert generic statement here, another 30 days to pay. All the usual. Given I’m about to go overseas (hopefully :/ ) I don’t really need to deal with this now, so the easiest option – although it definitely doesn’t sit well with me – is to pay the fines for now and pursue the issue later, when I get back.

So, for the past two weeks I’ve been trying to do that. The first two times I rang them, I went through the standard computerised menus and then went into the queue waiting for a “customer service representative” or whatever they call themselves… after twenty minutes of dial tone (both times), I gave up.

I then tried again last Sunday, only to be booted off because they were closed. Boink.

I also tried this morning. Not only did it fail to put me through to anyone at all, but rather it seemed to transfer me to some random internal department – options included browsing the employee phone directory and speaking directly to tech support or somesuch.

I’ll try again tomorrow, perhaps – if I get through to that again, I’m going to start noting names and numbers… 🙂

One stop shop for none of your needs

Array

I wrote to the Public Transport Ombudsman to have them review this mess I’m in. Their reply is, as received via email on the 4th of October (2005), as follows:

Dear Mr Tregaskis

The Office of the Public Transport Ombudsman has been established to
receive, investigate and facilitate resolution of complaints against
providers of public transport services in Victoria. However, the
jurisdiction of the PTO does not extend to matters required by
legislation, including fines.

If you believe that the decision to issue the Infringement Notice you
have received is inappropriate, or that the Department of Infrastructure
has not adequately considered your request that the Infringement Notice
be reconsidered, I would suggest that you re-contact the Department of
Infrastructure - Infringement Administration at Level 6/80 Collins
Street, Melbourne 3000, and request a review, or further review, of the
Notice.

Alternatively, you may wish to seek independent legal advice. Should
this be the case, the Law Institute may be able to assist you in
locating a suitable legal advisor.

With regard to the prescribed penalty amount of $150.00, this is a set
penalty and there is no provision for a reduction of this penalty as you
have suggested. The decision to increase the prescribed penalties from
$100 to $150 was made by the Victorian Government. If you believe that
these penalties are inappropriate, I would suggest that you contact your
local Member of Parliament.

I trust that this information is of assistance to you. Thank you for
contacting the PTO.

Regards

Kerry Free
Conciliator
Public Transport Ombudsman

Not so helpful, really. And this is despite the fact that this page on the DOI’s website specifically lists the responsibilities of the Ombudsman as:

The Public Transport Ombudsman hears complaints relating to matters such as:
failure to provide services
fares and ticketing
conduct or behaviour of staff members
use of public transport land or premises

Of course, the “official” PTO site has in it’s “what’s not handled by us” section the following:

Matters that are required by legislation.

So all right, I guess it is there. Nonetheless, my legal advice indicated this was a valid route to pursue.

So there goes that option. I think I’ll write to the PTO again and request compensation or other action against Yarra Trams for their B.S. service. That should at least piss them off a little, although I don’t doubt the PTO will ignore the request. Still, they did reply to my original complaint promptly enough, which is saying a lot for a government entity (which they really are, despite their claims otherwise; someone has to be paying them).