London bus contactless system charging wrong cards

One of the new contactless card readers on buses

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One hang-over from introducing contactless bank cards on the buses to pay for your fare, is that some people are being charged on the wrong card.

This happens when your bank card and your Oyster card are next to each other in your wallet.

Transport for London (TfL) did warn passengers this could happen.

It could mean you could be charged twice for your fare, for example if you have a weekly travelcard loaded on your Oyster card and when getting on the bus you are charged on your bankcard.

I've also been contacted by TfL staff who are getting charged on their bank card instead of their free staff Oyster card.

Not high number

The numbers are not high at the moment, Tfl claim they have only been contacted 60 times so far about incorrect charging.

But many people do not check their Oyster or bank statements.

That means the real number is certainly higher and as this system gets more popular it will only increase.

It is certainly worth keeping an eye on and keeping your bankcard and Oyster card separate.

Blocking sleeve

Another solution suggested to me is an RFID blocking sleeve. That would stop the radio signal needed to take money off your bankcard.

TfL's Shashi Verma said: "When a contactless payment card and an Oyster card are presented simultaneously to an Oyster reader, bundled together in a wallet or purse for instance, the reader will reject the tap and no payment will be taken from either card.

"There is no possibility of both cards being charged.

"However, if a customer presents a wallet with two or more cards and there is a significant time gap before the second card is detected, this can result in the first card being charged which may not be the card the customer wanted to pay with.

Start Quote

We have had no instances of two cards being charged simultaneously for the same fare”

End Quote Shashi Verma TfL

"Since the launch on 13 December, 245,000 bus journeys have been made using a contactless payment card, now around 8,000-per-weekday.

"We have been contacted by just over one customer per day on average who have had their bus fare taken from their contactless payment card when they intended to use their Oyster card and we have given these customers a full refund.

"From our liaison with the payment card issuers, we believe that collectively they have dealt with a broadly similar number.

"However we have had no instances of two cards being charged simultaneously for the same fare."

Let me know how you're getting on.

Tom Edwards Article written by Tom Edwards Tom Edwards Transport correspondent, London

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  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    This entire report and half the comments are pathetic.

    Anyone with a brain would have known this was possible the second they introduced the ability.

    In the future all these systems will run from our phones or a single card (or maybe a chip in our wrists); but for now people need to grow up and except responsibility for their own idiotic mistakes.

    FYI: This is a great addition to the service.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Yet another BBC non-story
    "Poor people moaning about their own stupidity"


  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    @18.Bos Kabouter
    "I would have thought that most people are smarter than using two payment cards at the same time. "
    I have a debit card but I did not ask for it to be "contactless".
    If I was to use a contactless card, I would want a card for that specific purpose and load it only with a small amount of money.
    I would have to separate the cards - more likely to losethem

    As things stand

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I quite like the new contactless payment system and I love the oyster card system. Both of these make life that little bit easier when (and this is the important bit) correctly used. Yes it's not perfect and yes TFL need to take the initiative with people who may have been double charged but I dont see the need for people to get so vitriolic about it !

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Not a good idea to get your wallet out on public transport anyway. So just leep your oyster card in the smal; wallets provided and in a different wallet. Really is a noon-story and tthe figures are small. I have contactless cards (a number of them) in my wallet and not had any problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    laughingdevil - you will collect a string of encrypted gobbledygook which is useless unless compared with a database back at base. That said, no system is ever completely secure: if there's a way for it to be used honestly (it would be rather pointless if there wasn't) there's bound to be a way of using it dishonestly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    TFL did make this potential problem clear in the emails in they sent announcing this new way of paying. Perhaps for people not on their mailing list, the information was not so readily available. People should also be aware that payment by debit card is not capped so it's only really of use if you are making three bus journeys or less in a day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    #6 Theresa. Why attack Boris? You will only get charged in this way if you are dim enough to keep your bank card next to your Oyster card. TFL have warned people not to do that. You can moan as much as you like at Boris, it ain't his fault. There's no saving people from their own stupidity!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Is this not a system open to abuse?

    I don't mean double charging, but I doubt it would be hard for somone to stick a little chip and transmitter in one of these readers while the bus is in the depot and hey presto! You are suddenly collecting peoples bank card and/or oyster card details every time they open their wallet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Surely it is obvious not to present several cards over the reader at the same time otherwise expect to be charged more than once.

    If I were to have six hankies together and placed them in water, I wouldn’t expect only the top one to get wet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Assuming you do not want your bank or credit card to work at all as contactless, then sticking adhesive Aluminium tape over parts of the card disables the antenna while not affecting its normal chip'n'pin operation.
    I have used this for several years now with no problem, alongside my Oyster card in the same wallet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I fail to see why people are getting upset by this news. The reader is a dumb machine. I would have thought that most people are smarter than using two payment cards at the same time.

    Just mark me down!

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    London buses, dontcha just love em?

    I saw 4 young Italian tourists try to board a bus the other week with pre payment cards. One of the guys tried to pay for him and his girlfriend on one card, but was refused as one card can be used numerous times but only for one person, and the driver ordered her off the bus. What lovely memories she will have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Surely the answer is to not keep both oyster and bank card in the same place. I keep my oyster in a separate plastic wallet and just take that out- no chance of the wrong card being charged!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Rajagra - Oyster works by taking the maximum sum when you enter the system then refunding you the difference if you make a shorter journey. It has to be like this as it can't know how far you're going when you tap in, but needs be certain you've got enough credit for most eventualities. If things go wrong there are ways of clearing it up and getting a refund

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I just pretend to put my oyster card to the reader and then make a "beep" sound. The drivers never know!

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Don't know about in London but in N Essex I'm definitely overcharged on my bus route.

    It's run by First Group (remember them from the recent rail scandal?) and the journey is about 1 mile. It costs me £3.60 for a return ticket!!

    However, another (smaller) company, manages to run an 11 mile journey on return fares of £4.50, just 90p more.

    And it's not a case of one having more passengers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Another 'system' in our society where the end user gets ripped off.

    Sign up for a service? - payment taken and instant connection

    Cancel a service - 30 day wait + cancellation fee


  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    @1 & 2 I keep my Oyster card and bank cards in separate flaps of the same wallet. So no problem - except that I don't always put the right flap on the Oyster reader, and my bank card can get charged even though my Oyster has a travelcard on it. How much extra is LT going to make on this kind of honest mistake? Rajagra, I agree - a private company acting like this would be prosecuted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The rest of us should be so lucky to have Public Transport, and Oyster Card and a Credit Card.

    Where I live we have a pack horse and a muck cart twice a month!


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