Dumb as an Oyster

The Oyster card was a fabulous innovation, in its day.  For anyone who might not be aware of it, it’s a pre-paid card for use on London tube trains or buses, you don’t need a ticket but just touch it on the screen and it opens the barrier and deducts the cost of the fare.  You are charged less than the standard ticket rate and, if you reach the cost of a daily pass, it stops charging you.  Splendid.  When introduced, you paid a deposit of £3, which I think is now £5.

I bought two of them years ago, when they were first introduced, registered them on the London transport website and registered a credit card for automatic top-ups – this was mainly for Russell’s benefit as he would have been puzzled to manage that at a station if he ran out of credit.  But I mislaid both those cards a few years ago, replaced them – but one can also use a contactless debit card, so it doesn’t much matter if you don’t have it with you.

Last week, I found an old wallet with various cards in and there were both my original Oyster cards, so I logged on to my account and found that one had about £25 on it and the other had about £17.  So I thought I’d cancel the automatic top-up and use up the money – to do so, you had to use it.  It said, touch onto a yellow reader by 1st December, three days hence and it would be cancelled.  So we did, LT with one card and me with the other, when we went to London the next day.  But they didn’t cancel, I had an email to say I owed £20 (that is there was £25.20 on my card but it hadn’t been able to take payment because my credit card was out of date) and if I didn’t pay it, the card would be cancelled.  Pay or phone.  So I phoned.

Helpful chap with a Scottish accent, said neither card details had gone through as having top-ups cancelled.  And he couldn’t prevent the card itself being cancelled if I didn’t pay.  I explained that, as the same fault had occurred on two cards being used at different stations by two people, it indicated a problem in the system and asked him to report it.  I also said I didn’t want that money outstanding any more.  Could I apply for a refund?  Yes I could.  So I have.

So, instead of them holding on to my £5.20 plus original £3 deposit, because they took another £20 that I instructed them to cancel, I’ve taken the whole lot back again – assuming the refund goes through.  Christmas is paid for, darlings, clearly.  I’m £8.20 in profit here – indeed, you can point out that it was my money all along and I would have to agree, but it was paid so long ago that it counts as new money, innit?  And, as LT points out, that £8.20 will buy his Christmas present, for sure.

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