We just concluded an excellent tour, Paris and the Heart of France which I'd recommend. We were warned to carry our Metro tickets after entering the system as they may be checked, so we were careful to do so. We used two tickets we were issued for the tour, both went though the turnstile system as usual. Mine went in a dedicated pocket to not get lost, my wife still had hers in her hand when we were stopped by the Metro security. They scanned both tickets and we were told that the tickets were not good. We protested that we had just used them about 30 feet before the stop, and that they were issued by our tour group. Another agent tried them and said no good, although we were not shown the result on the screen. We were moved to the side and more came over, it was becoming intimidating with the first agent shouting "rules!" and showing us the laminated fine schedule. It was becoming clear that we had little choice but to pay the $50 each fine before it got worse. Luckily this happened our last full day in Paris, which we were more than happy to leave. This was a new experience to our tour guide. Has anyone else experienced this? Did I have options?
"issued for the tour"
"both went though the turnstile system as usual"
Please be a little more specific.
1)What did the tickets you were issued look like? What did they say on them? Had you inserted them in a turnstile at any time before the shakedown occasion? Why were you not with the group at the time you used these tickets? (I haven't been on the tour, so please say if they gave you a handful of tickets!)
2)Did the tickets come out at a distant slot, or return to your hand where you inserted them?
3)Did anything get printed or punched out on the tickets? We need to know that you looked at both sides of the ticket and actually saw that something happened, inside the turnstile.
Good questions Tim. And what does this mean… “This was a new experience to our tour guide.”
Whatever your answers are, this was not a shakedown. The tickets (for whatever reason) were not good. It is very common to be asked by Security in the métro to show your ticket or Pass.
If a person (anyone, French or tourist) cannot show a validated ticket or Pass, you have to pay a Fine. Very common and not a shakedown.
Security can also board a Paris bus at any time and check tickets/Passes.
It’s not clear but i got the impression jerund and his wife were on their own after the RS tour ended.
Jerund, why don’t you contact the RS Tour office and talk to them?
Maybe the tickets had expired, since this was your last day.
Tickets don't expire and they can't be used twice.
The turnstile and the doors open only if the tickets are good, so these two tickets had to have been good or they couldn't have entered.
The officers usually snag young people who force their way through the turnstiles and doors behind others.
This is very strange but one or two others have mentioned in previous years sweeps at tourist-heavy stations with officers yelling and intimidating them.
Sorry this happened to you. There might be an explanation, which others are trying to discern.
Our tour delivered us to the Louvre as the last part of the group tour for that day, the rest of the day was out own. This happened at the station there, Palais-Royal. So we were not with anyone else from our group. Others were checked at the same location and were fine, including our guide. The tickets went into the near slot, then came out of the second slot, the same as all the other times. I kept the two tickets we used plus a third ticket that they checked and said was also bad. I don't see anything printed on them that is different, but our guide said it is common for the printers to not be working properly. She also said that the tickets were from a new packet for the tour, and worked for everyone else. I did have my phone in the same pocket as the tickets part of the time, but if that affected them then they probably wouldn't have worked in the turnstile.
I suspect this isn't all up and up because while others passed we both failed, and we used different adjacent turnstiles. It wasn't crowded so I don't think we could be mistaken as turnstile jumpers, which for the record, we didn't do. Being older and obvious tourists it feels like we were targeted; I may be wrong. Again, my wife's ticket was in her hand from removing it from the exit slot.
In Oct 2021 and Sept 2022 it was very common to see 3 or more Security Police together throughout the métro checking everyone’s ticket or Pass. They weren’t targeting anyone, they were checking everyone. And i saw them occasionally on busses.
Just for background information, on a Rick Steves tour like this the guide usually goes and buys 4 tickets for each person on the tour either at a Metro station or at a Tabac (I've had guides use both methods.). They distribute them to tour members, sometimes for use with the group (like going to the Louvre) and also for use on free time. One of the things the RS tour guides do is to teach you how to travel independently including riding the Metro when you are not with the group.
They are new and unused tickets and as Bets says, have no expiration date (although I guess will expire some time when paper tickets are no longer being accepted).
Jerund, I am sorry you were targeted because I believe you were. I love Paris and I hope you'll go back. I'm sure this was terribly upsetting.
When you are there on your own, get the Navigo Easy or other Navigo card for your Metro transport.
The other people who were shaken by what they considered aggressivity had their encounter at Palais Royal, too, but these people were at fault for tossing the tickets too early. The officers saw them do it and wouldn't let them retrieve their tickets.
This happened to me in 2017. Metro security stopped me and asked to see my ticket. After I gave it to them for scanning, they said the ticket was no good. I protested that I had used it 2 minutes prior, but they insisted it was a bad ticket. So I handed security another ticket, but they said I had to show them the same ticket. I had no choice but pay the 50 Euro fine.
Others have said the same or similar stories.
I love Paris and wouldn't hesitate to go back, but a scam is afoot on the Paris Metro.
So, just to be clear, and to make sure I do what I can to avoid anything like this, using a Navigo card (as opposed to a paper ticket) avoids the potential for either a malfunctioning ticket, malfunctioning machine, or a shakedown? I realize it may not always be cost efficient to have it, but for me probably would be.
@Texastravelmom - I got the Navigo Decouverte pass for my Oct 21 trip (and since the Navigo card is good for 10 yrs, I'm using it again in April) - and my train to Versailles did get boarded by the transit police - they came to me, I pulled out the pass, they looked at it and moved on, easy peasy. So that definitely was worth the $$ for me.
I’ve gotten the Navigo Easy the last couple of times which is where you load a carnet of 10 onto a chipped card but I know you’ve used them before, lol!! In April I wasn’t stopped but the previous September I was stopped every time I changed at the Concorde station. Sometimes they just looked at the card but a time or 2 they used a scanner on it.
I’m not sure how the OPs and Craig’s issues can be avoided since they were using valid tickets.
For the Paris folks…is it possible to ask to be taken to a supervisor?
This sounds bad, I admit, but I hate to think that some of the transit police are crooked. I wonder (as a non-techie person) whether there's a possibility their ticket-scanning equipment was in the process of failing. I've had experiences of burning DVDs that, when checked in a DVD player, didn't play, causing me to curse the DVD manufacturer and switch to a different brand of DVDs. I later realized that the problem might have lain with a failing DVD burner rather than the blank DVDs. Could something like that be happening here?
Thanks, guys. Since it looks like I will be back in Paris in December, I will probably opt for the Navigo Easy and load my carnet again. It might cost a few dollars more, but will be easier than paper tickets even without a potential ticket fail. This year’s Dec. travel companions would totally come unglued if the OP’s situation happened to them…..
If you have time, you can stand your ground, refuse to pay on the spot, and wait until they call the police. The police then takes your ID and sends you the fine.
EDIT: actually now that I remember, they don't even have to call the police. They are authorized to take your details and send the fine later, adding 50-70€ of fees but giving you a chance to dispute the fine.
Thank you Balso. Good to know that.
TxTravelMom….woohoo! Another Christmas trip!! Fun!
Very true....Every one is checked, not merely at random.
I have been through those moments when you are called upon to produce your ticket on the Metro and on regional trains and that ticket had better be in order., and more funny are those moments when you see guys are "thrown off" ,ie, are asked to get off at the next station. The culprits know it, and they're being stared at. This was on a RER train.
In a situation if my ticket turns out to be a bum ticket, ie no good, I just get out another Metro ticket from my pocket, since I have several on me anyway. One just needs to know what to do in Paris as to avoid being hit with a fine, certainly no shake-down. Never happened to me in Paris or anywhere else in France. I've never happy to leave France , much less Paris.
Thanks for all the feedback, I have a better idea what to do in future travels, mainly get a card or transit pass and not rely on little paper tickets.
As for having to produce a valid ticket, I understand that. I'll simplify what happened:
-We received tickets from our guide, we used them properly as we were shown and as we had previously done a few times, and about 30 feet later we were stopped with those very tickets and told they were no good and fined. I produced another ticket and was told that was no good as well. I guess I'm lucky I didn't get a fine for that one too. I stand by my description of the incident.
Really makes me wonder if I want to go to France, especially Paris. Cops working on commission seems like a bad idea.
There is one last possible scenario: you could have been given reduced-fare ("demi-tarif") tickets by mistake. They look exactly the same, but have "demi-tarif" printed on them. Only valid for children under 10.
Otherwise, well, this is a bit concerning on the part of the ticket inspectors (like, do they have fine quotas or what??) and I certainly hope such incidents don't become more common!
For the time being, no need to overreact I guess. Just remember that there is no obligation to pay fines on the spot, since nobody is obliged to carry a credit card or sufficient cash!
Jerund, thanks for coming back and for sticking with an unpleasant but important advisory to travelers. I admit that I was once ready to "blame you" for an error (although I tried to take a neutral tone in my first reply.) But we all have experiences with shameful government errors like no ink in a ticket-validating printer, or a toll gate the fails to rise. I am inclined to accept that explanation, as well as excessive rigor (what we call in the US "end of the month summons quotas") by the enforcement team.
I'm still troubled by this, in your new post:
I produced another ticket and was told that was no good as well.
It just sounds like a basic misunderstanding of the public transit payment process. A properly validated ticket from yesterday, or early morning, at a station OTHER than one where you were challenged, is NO DEFENSE against what you were (probably unfairly) accused of. A fresh, unused ticket is also worthless for such a defense. I'm old enough to remember when suburban rail station parking sometimes had numbered slots that you stuffed money into. If you accidentally put your money in the slot for a different parking space, is it wrong to get a parking summons on your car?
It makes it harder to give you the benefit of the doubt. (I know it doesn't sound that way, but I don't mean to sound cruel. I'm just writing with the experience of hundreds of public transit trips in Europe.) Right now, NYC has a confusing situation where some busses require pre-payment and carrying a paper slip, while most others take your money upon entry, at the driver's position. So at some stops you get in any door, and at others, you must enter by the front door.
I must reply to Joe, While this wasn't a fun experience, it does not diminish Paris to me. Whether you get a pocket picked, or something like this, it can happen in any major city. For me the take-away here is use the Navigo Card. Even the Metro gets an overall good score from me; clean, efficient, and smooth (they run on tires!) I keep meaning to add this COULD be a technical glitch, except of the group only we two failed, in two adjacent turnstiles, so it's not that either. But like I say- come enjoy and love Paris, just spend a little more and get the card. the 'free' tickets didn't pay off for me.
For the other details, they aren't the demi tickets, they were issued for our tour, series R408 Z. The third presented ticket was unused. Unused in the upper left pocket, current front right pocket, used discarded on leaving the station.
Do you or your wife still have the unused tickets, the ones you showed the officer who said it was no good?
I'd like to take it to a window and have it tested. Sometimes they demagnetize. If you have it, I'll send you a private message.
Or, maybe someone is coming over who could bring it or have it tested.
Update: Jerry mailed me the three tickets so we could see if the contrôleur was shaking him down when he said ticket #3 was no good. My husband and I took the three tickets to the service window at Metro Poissonnière today. Result: all three were demagnetized. The employee marked them, registered the Tix with other demagnetized Tix and gave me 3 replacements. He said the old tickets demagnetized near cell phones and other magnetic objects, which could have happened at any time.
Lesson: avoid the old paper tickets. Use the new Navigo Easy.
Thank you very much Bets. I agree with the lesson learned. I'm not sure how two of them opened the turnstiles, maybe a technical glitch, but I'm glad that this thread may help someone else in the future, and I will certainly learn this lesson for other cities.
Bets, thanks for the effort. I do wonder, was there any evidence of printing on the tickets? I also wonder if a demagnatized ticket is presumed (in Paris) to be fraud, or does it call for a closer search for a printed/dated cancellation of the ticket?
In modern times, enforcement agents have computer tools to read magnetic subscription cards. What is their responsibility to a patron with a demagnetized carnet?
This is not an idle question, because for most crosstown busses in NYC, you have to pre-pay and carry a paper receipt. (This is simply to speed up bus boarding.) You use a proprietary magnetic stripe card (or a credit card) to buy the paper receipt. If the receipt is illegible, is the (invisible) credit card transaction or stored-value stripe card a defense against prosecution? I don't know, and I do it once a week.
The tickets had no marks or anything to distinguish them. The agent didn't say the two tickets had already been used, but he did say all three were demagnetized. I assume their machines can distinguish the two or everyone would be turning in used tickets for new ones .
In Paris, people need to get the Navigo Easy which replaces paper tickets. If someone does get a magnetic strip ticket, they need to be careful to keep it away from magnets. It's incredible that this guide gave out paper tickets instead of a Navigo Easy. The tickets could have been very old or kept near a magnet.
Obviously the contrôleurs considered using the tickets an infraction because the OP and spouse had to pay a fine. The mystery is still how they were able to access the platform.
Thanks for reporting back.
One quick clarification: does the fine have to be paid on the spot, or can you ask that it be mailed?
The newer iPhones have a big ole magnet underneath the back cover - is that the demagnetizing culprit?
Bingo Périscope. Upstream, jerund said he put the tickets in his pocket next to his phone. Perhaps they had been weakened by the phone then completely finished off by the turnstile.
Bets, I think doing a Navigo Easy for the Paris tour groups is an excellent idea then people can load more rides onto the easy card as they need them. I am going to make a suggestion to the tour office to read this thread and consider issuing Navigo Easy cards. For the Best of Paris they already do a Navigo Decouverte.