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
    0

    Comment number 89.

    In some countries the card reader detects more than one contactless card and requests which one to use. TFL notifies you by email that auto top up has taken place. So why not send an email to card users who have not completed the touch in/out process? The reason is simple. These errors are to TFL’s financial benefit.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 88.

    VoyagerBlue is correct about the "shield" it doesnt matter which side of the contactless card the shielding card is placed it does prevent contact, I several have tried this with several different scanners and with different contactless cards. Another item it will block is the new style of hotel room key based on the same technology. There are some apps on the web that claim to copy these.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 87.

    It's actually quite difficult to detect 2 cards in a field. Usually the first card in the field powered on and used. The other card might try to power up but there will be insufficient power available. It depends on the strength of the field and the speed at which the cards enter the field. So if you want to be sure which card will be charged, only put that one in the field.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 86.

    Hi @Patrick (84) - It is what it says - a "shield" (compare it to the medieval definition - you're right, it's not "armour") - and this is how it is designed. It does work - believe me, as an engineer it's been through years of design and extensive testing! You tend to present one side of your wallet to the terminal - with the shield, you can expose one card while protecting others.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 85.

    Any chance of bringing back the bus conductors? Good for antisocial behaviour, good for unemployment, and good for dealing with the plastic.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    There's a VERY good reason to keep your Oyster card & main wallet/bank cards completely seperate - the hurly-burly at crowded ticketing gates during rush hour means your wallet, held out in one hand while you're pre-occupied, is easily grabbable.

    And ID carried with the Oystercard means someone can read that card & see what your daily journey patterns are, a gift to potential burglars/rapists.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 83.

    @VoyagerBlue (82) a shield card would only work if it enwrapped the card that's not to be debited - but if it just goes between, and the person makes more journeys the same day using the other card/side of their wallet they'll lose the benefit of the capped daily maximum fare - and if they swipe in the tube with one card & out with the other they'll pay the maximum single fare x2 AND lose the cap.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 82.

    As a human factors engineer you can never assume the intelligence or knowledge of the user - this is truly a "system" fault. We knew this was coming, and patented a shield card which you slip in your wallet, and it renders a card behind it as unreadable - effectively shielding it. The lack of security is concerning - even NFC enabled mobile phones can be turned into "readers".

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 81.

    This ISN'T about a flaw in the system, it's about people being daft enough to keep two chargeable cards together where the reader will debit them both because it doesn't know any better.

    I can see how a normal person could slip up but it's a bit worrying TFL staff are in that much of a daydream since I'd hope the people with my life in their hands would understand a fundamental concept like this!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 80.

    Technology is doing a fantastic job at creating more and more ways to accidentally spend money. It's almost like it's deliberate.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 79.

    This is an incredibly badly written article; the grammar, spelling and punctuation are appalling. Why does the BBC run such a sloppy website?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 78.

    Since I was wrongly fined by a train company going into London, I vowed I would never use that train service again. Since then it has been my pleasure to use the car every time I go into London. I do not need to use the bus service either. I only travel into London a few times a year with partner and child I find costs the same by car as by public transport and much more comfortable!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 77.

    To all those stupid enough to castigate people for the offence of having an Oyster and Credit card in their wallet, I would only say this:-

    Who would be stupid enough to design such a flawed system in the first place and even more serious who would spend YOUR money implementing it?

    These systems cost millions!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 76.

    All these cards will eventually be combined into 1 - Barclays nearly managed it. Effectively the day of the single purpose card is over, and the provider will probably be your bank (oyster is just a stop gap solution)

    Solution to todays problem - introduce a gaffer taps and tin foil card (faraday screen) between oyster and bank card - now you have a 2 sided wallet, 1 for oyster, 1 for banking.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 75.

    So if I put my hand in people's pockets, take money out and only give it back if they catch me and ask me for it, that's OK now is it?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 74.

    Why should TfL *not* be criticised for introducing a system which inconveniences and potentially overcharges the huge majority of its customers- Oystercard holders? Why should I now have to remove my Oystercard from my wallet when I did not have to before? If TfL had properly specified the detection software so as to prioritise Oyster, this silly inconvenience could have been avoided.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 73.

    "The only explanation I can come to is that the card reader registered my Visa card from my jacket pocket as I walked past. I rang TFL & they refunded the fare." - plain old pickpocketing with a modern I.T slant. I wonder how much they are making from folks who don't notice this mugging?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 72.

    For those individuals that hold their purse (or even handbag) to the card reader - with the inevitable rejection tone, rather than take out their Oystercard - your time-wasting deserves the occasional double-charging. Don't be so lazy and get your card out - preferably before you board the bus.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 71.

    I've a Hants CC old person's bus pass. This uses the contactless system. It had never occured to me that there might be a risk that the contactless readers on the buses might take a payment from my Visa debit card. I've never needed to take out my pass from my wallet and would not.particularly wish to do so on each journey,
    I find this news item scary and have written to the council for advice.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 70.

    Is this an opt-in service by Visa, Mastercard, etc? Or can some hapless clown like me be charged without my card leaving my wallet? What's to stop a mobile version of such a machine being brushed against the pocket of every passer-by?

 

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