London Transport Oystercard.

  Simsy 10:46 05 Jun 2006


In London you can pre-pay bus and tube fares. You credit something called an "Oystercard", which is scanned when you get on a bus, (which are all flat fares), and when you enter/exit a tube station. The appropriate amount for fares is deducted automatically. By using Oystercard the fares are considerably less than paying cash each time.

Though the system has been in place for some years I only got one in January.

Being somewhat cynical, I made an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of what was being spent, to make sure that the correct amount was being debited. I used this for about 3 months, keeping careful track of my journeys and deductions, and checking my card balance online. In that 3 months all was well apart from one day when my balance was showing the price of one bus fare less than I reckoned. I presumed that I'd forgotten a bus journey somewhere so didn't persue it. I also figured 3 months was a reasonable time to test the system and I figured that it had passed. I have got better things to do with my time than enter every bus/tube journey on a spreadsheet!

So I stopped checking a couple of months ago.

However, in the past week or so, I've been geeting some strange figures.. my balance, (displayed on the scanner/readers when you use it), has been dropping very much quicker that I though it should.

Now we come to the reason for the thread... so I can rant about the awful system.

It is possible to go online and check the balance of the account. However you cannot check the useage online. I've just rung up to ask if I can get a record of the card's usage. This can be done; It can either be posted to me, or sent by email... but in either case it will take about 5 days.

Now maybe I'm not being fair, but it seems to me that all the relevant information is in a database. Why can't I just get in online? Surely it isn't more complicated than a bank providing statement details? I would have though that it would be a simple case of entering the card number and doing a query of usage and coverting the answer to a simple file, text or .pdf, that can be emailed almost immediately. They have email address on record with the card number.

Why so difficult? Am I missing something and being unfair?



  €dstowe 10:53 05 Jun 2006

While you're in that frame of mind, you can ask why payments from my credit card are immediately deducted but payments to my credit card can take five days.

Likewise why do cheques still take five days to clear even from two accounts at the same branch?

  walesrob 12:17 05 Jun 2006

Theres a similiar system in Hong Kong, called Octupus Card, but over there you can use it not only on public transport but to pay for shopping as well. I think its a great idea, but sadly I doubt it will be rolled out nationally here in the UK.

  Jackcoms 13:53 05 Jun 2006

"can use it not only on public transport but to pay for shopping as well"

In the UK, it's called a credit card. ;-)

  spuds 09:03 06 Jun 2006

€dstowe-- If reports are anything to go by, then 'people power' are trying to address this issue with some success, especially in terms of compensation for people being forced further into the red with excessive penalty charges.

  jack 09:29 06 Jun 2006

To address Simsy's original point it is I guess all to do with what the system planners and writers decided what information is going to be accessable,and having put such a system in place
would find it impossible to revise it without a major rework. One could also guess that just like a 'Windows' O/S there are out there standard modules to be cobbled together for a job- and other modules to do more -at extra cost - and someone has to double guess what the likely need is to be at minimum cost.
Then of course some 'jobsworth'/MP/No nothing newly appointed cabinet minister cames along with an 'Ah but'- and before you know it the system is £4Bn over budget and 5 years late- and does not work.

  Fellsider 09:32 06 Jun 2006

Why not get a second Oystercard and not use the original for say a week, leaving approx £5 credit on it.

Check after the week. There should still be the same amount of credit, if not it proves that there is fraudulent use in the system.

You can then decide what action to take

  rmcqua 10:37 06 Jun 2006

I used to use the Hong Kong "octopus card" a lot. It was a great idea, simple and convenient to use.

  zincy 18:04 06 Jun 2006

Yeah I used too its easy for people who dont use credit cards.. but why is it called octopus and osyter card here??

  spuds 19:00 06 Jun 2006

Octopus card as many tentacles (outlets) perhaps!.

Here in the UK, we have the Egg and Goldfish cards :O)

  rmcqua 10:23 07 Jun 2006

Don't know about the name. The Octopus card chip is now available embedded in jewellr, like rings!

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