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 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

    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

    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

    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

    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.


Comments 5 of 89



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