28 March 2015

Contactless card quirk sees London buses charge commuters twice

17 March 2014  |  5074 views  |  3 London bus

Transport for London has wrongly charged bus passengers several thousand pounds because its Oyster readers have taken money from the wrong cards.

In late 2012 TfL began letting commuters pay for their bus journeys with a tap of their contactless bank cards.

If a traveller has an Oyster card and their contactless card in the same wallet, either one could be charged. If a passenger has paid for a season ticket on their Oyster and the bus reader detects their bank card instead, the passenger is effectively charged twice.

So far nearly 1800 travellers have been double charged, forcing TfL to hand over around £11,000 in refunds, according to figures obtained by the Metro newspaper through a Freedom of Information request.

The errors represent a tiny proportion of the six million journeys made on London buses every day but the figure is likely to rise significantly when contactless bank cards start being accepted on the underground and overground systems later this year.

TfL is already using posters, e-mails and public-address announcements to warn commuters about 'card clash' - where readers pick up a bank and Oyster card and rejects both.


Comments: (3)

Andrew Smith - CloudZync - London | 18 March, 2014, 08:27

This isnt the first time this has been exposued. The same issue was found on busses quite some time ago, and again at some high profile hight street stores (M&S jumps to mind).

I am quite a fan of NFC as a technology, but its application for making financial transactions just doesnt fit correctly. IMHO we are trying to use a square peg to fit a round hole.

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Jane Adams - Currently looking for a job - Edinburgh | 18 March, 2014, 09:14

Given that this is now a known issue, I don't get what is so hard about keeping your Oyster card separate from your bank card. If you left your season ticket at home and had to buy a day ticket would that be a system flaw? No, it's a user flaw and so is this. While beforehand, you might have argued that TfL didn't do enough user education on this usability question, you can barely move for public service ads on the subject now so I think the way this story is reported is a bit misleading.

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Andrew Smith - CloudZync - London | 18 March, 2014, 10:15

@jane...Sorry if its that easy for a user to get things wrong then it is very much a system flaw. Most systems can be broken by users, but they then trap for that, basic software development and UAT, so that customers / users dont end up with a poor experiance. This is just a poor system, no excuses and no pushing blame onto users.

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