Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Letter: Stand firm on Tube

I read with sympathy Graham Webb's account of his experience with 'blockhead London Underground staff' (26 September). I, too, have innocently fallen foul of the penalty fare system, but only had to wait five weeks for a curt and dismissive reply from the same Mary Miller. Perhaps this was because, unlike Mr Webb, I refused to pay pounds 10.

On 9 August I used the Underground for the first time in six months. I entered Royal Oak Station at about 4.30pm with the intention of buying a Travelcard to travel to Aldgate East then homeward to Rayners Lane. There was no staff to be seen.

To purchase my ticket I needed

to change a pounds 10 note. As far as I was then aware, ticket machines accepted nothing higher than pounds 5 . Believing that I had no other option (apart from going by bus) I boarded the train to Aldgate East. As I approached the Excess Fare window with my pounds 10 note, intent on buying a Travelcard, I was apprehended by an extremely rude employee who demanded pounds 10 and said it was too bad that I was unaware machines had been altered. Despite further demands for pounds 10 I insisted on paying only the cost of a Travelcard and was eventually issued with an inappropriate travel document (another cause for complaint) and a demand for the balance of pounds 10.

The 1994 LU Customer Charter says penalty fares are 'to protect the honest fare-payer from fare-dodgers'. A leaflet, Penalty Fares, states they 'are not there to catch the innocent', adding 'staff are trained to use discretion and treat every incident fairly'.

I wrote a detailed letter to London Underground. Mrs Miller's curt reply takes no account of this but demands pounds 10. By refusing to accept my explanation,

London Underground suggests I was behaving dishonestly. I am prepared to defend this gross slur on my character through the courts if necessary. If I end up in

prison perhaps Mr Webb will come and visit me]

John Baldwin Harrow