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Examples of typical mediation cases

Customised investigation of each complaint

Customers file complaints relating to a wide range of disputes. Examples include problems occurring when purchasing a travel subscription or ticket, difficulties understanding the Île-de-France fare system, misunderstandings of transport regulations and terms of use, problems with equipment or travel subscriptions and tickets including the demagnetisation of tickets, and disagreements with the circumstances leading to the issue of fines for breaches of regulations. In some cases, customers find themselves in difficult circumstances despite their best efforts.

The Mediator investigates each case according to the law, in an equitable and impartial manner. Each case is reviewed individually, and the Mediator is not bound by any recommendation that may have been issued in a previous case.

The Mediator listens to the customer and aims to understand the sense of injustice they may feel, considering objective evidence that the customer acted in good faith and seeking additional information from RATP or the relevant subsidiary to help her understand the situation.

After examining all of the documents at her disposal, the Mediator issues a final recommendation, bringing the mediation process to a close. Each recommendation is unique and does not set a precedence. The Mediator makes clear that the customer is free to accept or refuse the recommendation, and to refer the case to the competent jurisdiction to enforce their rights irrespective of her intervention.

The Mediator’s annual report describes the different types of complaints that were filed over the past year.

Example: ticket lost, then found

THE FACTS

Mr. A could not find his ticket when asked to produce it by an inspector. The employee recorded a breach of regulations, issued an on-the-spot fine and gave Mr. A a receipt. Mr. A then found his ticket after having paid the fine. The inspector advised him to apply for a refund.

THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE

After examining the evidence, the Mediator observed that Mr. A’s ticket had been validated 15 minutes before the fine was issued. The evidence backed up Mr. A’s statement and confirmed that he had acted in good faith. In addition, the Mediator examined an additional report appended to the employee’s copy of the receipt explaining the situation. The Mediator recommended that RATP should pay Mr. A compensation equal to the amount of the fine, as a gesture of goodwill.
Favourable recommendation

COMMENTS

The employee’s additional report was instrumental in reaching a consensus opinion. The employee clearly had no option but to issue a fine, but had also explained the circumstances. The evidence from the employee shed light on the situation from the company’s perspective. A recommendation to mainstream this practice was included in the Mediator’s 2017 annual report.

Example: misplaced Navigo card?

THE FACTS

Mrs. S explained that she had forgotten to validate her travel subscription on the bus. She was unable to produce her Navigo smart card when asked to do so by an employee, but found it later, hidden inside her chequebook. As a subscriber, she requested that her fine be cancelled.

THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE

After checking with the Solidarité Transport Agency, the Mediator confirmed that Mrs. S had topped up her card several hours after the fine was issued. In any event, there was neither credit nor subscription on her smart card when she was fined. The Mediator upheld the customer service department’s decision. Unfavourable recommendation

COMMENTS

When investigating a case, the Mediator reconstructs the sequence of events based on the information provided by the customer and the company. In this case, there were no contextual elements that shed light on the situation. It is important to make clear that customers have a duty to comply with the regulations, and that operators have a duty to enforce them.

Example: Navigo cards swapped by mistake

THE FACTS

Mrs. D accidentally picked up her partner’s Navigo smart card instead of her own. She was fined because she could not produce a card bearing her name.

THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE

When examining the case, the Mediator checked the electronic records and found that Mrs. D did indeed have a valid annual Navigo subscription on the day she received the fine, as did her partner. However, ticket inspectors are unable to check these electronic records. The Mediator did not question the fine but found that Mrs. D had acted in good faith, and that this should be taken into account in the handling of the dispute. She recommended that RATP drop the case. Favourable recommendation

COMMENTS

A fine was rightly issued in this situation, and Mrs. D could even have had her pass confiscated. However, the Mediator has encountered many similar situations. In recommendation no. 2018-03, she proposed that RATP should show leniency when processing claims relating to this specific type of situation. Upon investigation, it is easy to see that in circumstances where every family member has a Navigo card, this type of error is purely accidental.

Example: two-part journey

THE FACTS

Mrs. M bought a ticket on-board a bus. Part-way through her journey, she gets off to wait for a friend, then continues on another bus. She was fined because her ticket was no longer valid. She believed she was entitled to do so, since the time limit on her ticket had not expired. She explained that the “no connection” rule applicable to her ticket was unclear for customers.

THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE

The Mediator examined the regulations relating to tickets purchased on-board buses. The rules state that such tickets are “only valid for travel on the bus on which they are purchased” and that “no connection” is allowed. The same terms were clearly stated on the ticket itself. The Mediator upheld the fine. Unfavourable recommendation

COMMENTS

This case hinges on two aspects: the customer was duly informed, and the customer had a duty to validate her ticket. When Mrs. M resumed her journey on a second bus (the bus on which she was fined), her ticket was no longer valid when she attempted to validate it. Mrs. M could have spoken to the driver.

Example: broken validation machines

THE FACTS

Mrs. R was fined for failing to validate her ticket. She explained that she had validated it when entering the metro, and that she had no idea why she had been fined. She complained that RATP had failed to check whether the station’s ticket validation machines were working properly.

THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE

The Mediator investigated whether the station’s validation machines were working properly on the day Mrs. R was fined. She found that the machines had suffered intermittent problems on the day in question, which could explain Mrs. R’s circumstances. The Mediator asked RATP to refund the amount Mrs. R had paid to the collection department. Favourable opinion

COMMENTS

In 2016, the Mediator recommended that ticket inspectors should check whether machines are working when customers raise concerns. This has been a long-standing professional practice. In this particular case, the intermittent nature of the problems likely meant staff were unable to diagnose the situation in real time.

Example: passenger over the age limit

THE FACTS

Mr. A was travelling with his son, who had turned 10 the previous day. He was fined for travelling on a concession ticket, which is only valid for children under 10 years of age.

THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE

First of all, the Mediator found that the wording used on the website was somewhat ambiguous:
“fares for children aged 4-10 years old” and “children under 4 years old travel free, older children up to 10 years old...”. Although the wording was clearer on subsequent pages, this  fact needed to be taken into consideration given that, according to the evidence submitted, Mr. A’s son had turned 10 the previous day. The Mediator also found that Mr. A had held an annual Navigo pass for several years. She asked RATP to drop the case. Favourable recommendation

COMMENTS

The wording is problematic and has given rise to misunderstandings in several cases. For that reason, the Mediator’s 2018 annual report included a recommendation to clarify the concession fare terms applicable both to children under 4 (i.e. aged 3 or under), who travel free, and to children under 10 (i.e. aged 9 or under), who travel at a reduced fare.

Example: refusal to affix a photo to a Navigo Découverte card

THE FACTS

Mr. G was fined for failing to affix a photo to his Navigo Découverte smart card. He said he hated the way he looked and refused to have his photo taken. He invoked his image rights and said that, in his view, having a photo on a Navigo card is no proof of the bearer’s identity, since only official documents can serve this purpose.

THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE

The Mediator explained to Mr. G that the terms and conditions of use for the Navigo Découverte smart card are crystal-clear: the card is only valid if carried along with a named card bearing the customer’s first name, last name and photo. By accepting the terms and conditions of sale for the Navigo Découverte smart card, Mr. G could not invoke his image rights. The Mediator upheld the customer service department’s decision. Unfavourable recommendation

COMMENTS

It could be argued that the terms and conditions of use for the Navigo Découverte smart card are out of sync with changing practices. For instance, a family spending a few days on holiday might struggle to take photos of everyone and affix them to the card. However, a regular user who has opted for the smart card must be aware of, and bound by, the terms and conditions.

Example: feet on a seat

THE FACTS

Mr. P was fined for “damage” after putting his foot up on the seat. He contested the fine, claiming that his foot was in fact resting in the corner next to the edge of the seat. He attached a photo and a diagram describing the situation. He asked the Mediator to watch the CCTV footage to confirm his version of events.

THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE

The Mediator found that the employee who had issued the fine had written an additional report stating that both of Mr. P’s feet were on the seat and that he had not removed them after being fined. She informed Mr. P that, under CCTV access rules, footage is only retained for a maximum of 72 hours. Access requests can be made to the Data Protection Officer by telephone (dedicated line), by post or by email ([email protected]). These rules are clearly stated on the “Mode d'emploi” poster and on the RATP website. The Mediator, recognising that passengers may be unaware of this information, will include a recommendation on improving communication about access to CCTV footage in her report. Based on the available evidence, the Mediator was unable to confirm Mr. P’s version of events. Moreover, reports for breaches of regulations remain valid unless proven otherwise (article 2241-7 of the French Transport Code). On that basis, the Mediator upheld the fine. Unfavourable recommendation

COMMENTS

People often fail to understand why they are fined for putting their feet on seats. However, doing so inconveniences other passengers and adversely affects vehicle cleanliness. This case also raises issues around accessing CCTV footage. Anyone has the right to contact the person responsible for the CCTV system to request access to footage in which they appear, or to verify that the footage has been destroyed within the time frame stipulated in the prefectural authorisation (article L.253-5 of the French Internal Security Code). However, although access is entitled, it is governed by law.
The person in question must submit the request to RATP’s Data Protection Officer, who will then follow up under the terms set out by law after first carrying certain checks as to the basis of the request. For privacy reasons, footage is only retained for a limited time (no longer than 72 hours), in accordance with the French Data Protection Act of 1978 and the requirements of the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL).
Moreover, since the right concerns access rather than recording, it is not possible to obtain a copy for use as evidence. Given that CCTV systems are primarily intended to protect people and property, footage can only be obtained by an investigating officer as part of a formal investigation.
Moreover, in order to access footage in accordance with the law, all faces other than the requesting party’s must be pixelated, along with all other elements that could potentially identify third parties. Only an investigating officer can obtain a non-pixelated copy of the footage as part of a formal investigation, if the officer considers the footage is necessary for the purposes of the investigation. This is the only situation in which non-pixelated footage can be used as evidence.

Example: noise and vibrations on lines 5 and A

THE FACTS

Mrs. C had been complaining for several years about noise and vibrations in her apartment when RATP trains on RER line A and metro line 5 passed under her building. She explained that, in her view, the problem has recently become increasingly unbearable.

THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE

The Mediator contacted RATP’s infrastructure management department, which explained that the most recent investigation had found no evidence of specific issues on either line directly under Mrs. C’s building. There had been no major engineering works that could have explained the increased noise and vibrations. This version of events was upheld by a new investigation. Grinding work was carried out on the rails, as part of wider engineering work, to improve the situation. The Mediator contacted Mrs. C by telephone to gain a clearer picture of the situation. In summer 2018, the track and ballast were set to be replaced on the section of RER line A running under Mrs. C’s home. With Mrs. C’s agreement, the “before and after” measurements would include the section of track under her apartment. Following the work, the measurements confirmed that the situation had been resolved to Mrs. C’s satisfaction. Favourable recommendation

COMMENTS

Noise is often a difficult issue to handle. The problem can stem from a range of factors, including rail operations themselves, the condition of the infrastructure, the contact between the rails and the train and, in some cases, changes made by external parties (such as engineering work by concession-holders or work within the building itself).

Example: inaccessible stop

THE FACTS

Mrs. P, a wheelchair user, had experienced numerous problems accessing route 239 because the bus ramp often failed to work. She explained that she had spoken to RATP’s Accessibility Division at the Autonomic trade show in 2016, and that she was aware of the work the division was doing to support passengers with disabilities. However, despite these efforts, the situation on the route in question had not improved. Mrs. P therefore referred her complaint to the Mediator.

THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE

During an interview with the Mediator, Mrs. P explained that the bus ramps on route 239 had failed to work on numerous occasions throughout the year 2017, and that the problems had continued in the first quarter of 2018. The Mediator found that ramp availability figures were particularly poor in January and February. However, at the same time that Mrs. P had filed her complaint, a mother travelling with a child in a wheelchair had contacted the bus depot. The depot had taken remedial action and the figures had improved markedly, rising to 100% availability from March onwards. Although occasional problems could not be ruled out, the Mediator and Mrs. C both agreed, at a subsequent interview, that RATP had significantly improved accessibility on route 239. The mediation request was therefore withdrawn. Favourable recommendation

COMMENTS

Since wheelchair access ramps are located under the chassis of the bus, they are inevitably prone to damage from inclement weather and road-surface defects. However, any “accessible” bus stop should be genuinely accessible to all passengers.