09 January 2007
Oyster card charges a pound for a free journey and three more pounds for not having enough credit
Brian Micklethwait

London Mayor Ken Livingstone is demanding that the rail companies make more use of Oyster Cards.  Meanwhile, Rob Fisher complains about Oyster idiocy:

Tube travel was supposed to be free on New Year’s Eve, something to do with NatWest sponsoring tube travel. On the way home the gates were open but I touched my Oyster card anyway because we are constantly told to ”always touch in and touch out” on posters and in P.A. announcements. I didn’t want to find a closed gate and have to pay the £4. When I got to my destination the gate announced that there was not enough credit on my card. What? Not enough credit to pay for a free fare? I was tired and no-one was around to help, so I walked through the open gate.

When I checked a few days later, it turned out I had been charged for an incomplete journey on that New Year’s Eve. £4 for a free journey seems a lot. When I challenged it at the counter, I was told that I could only be refunded £3. So that’s £1 for a free journey. I am sure that NatWest would not be happy at their money being stolen by TfL in this way.

TfL means Transport for London, by the way.

To me the real rip-off here is that you only get refunded the mere cash that you lost, or in this case not even all of that, rather than all the cash you lost plus ten quid minimum for all the bullshit involved in getting the cash back.

Rob also links to an article about what programmers can learn from the good and the disturbingly numerous bad things about the Oyster system.

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