Monday, February 19, 2007

Oyster Glitch

The oyster is a fantastic way of paying for the london transports. It adapts the fare on one day to what is cheapest for you. You can have weekly, monthly, quaterly ... cards for any zone and then ponctually extends your subscription to another zone. It's great and most of the time it works fine.

But this morning... It did not really.

Nowaday you can't use the oyster pre-pay on all the transport system. It's accepted on all the tube/dlr and the buses but only on some overground station - and to be useful you need both end and start point to accept it -. But the train companies are eventually moving to a full oyster pre-pay support, to do that they've got to put oyster born to go through. At Blackfriars there is some but you don't have to touch in to go through, as you would imagine, nobody touch their oyster. That's fine for a weekly card, but not for prepaid. So they decide to first do some random control, and this morning they put one small girl in charge of dealing with the crowd of potential commuters-criminals.

I bought a quaterly card, it's valid until May, so like somebody who is proud of not being part of the no-paying scum I present my oyster at the mouth of the magnetic reader. Ready to continue my journey (10 minutes walk), this Oyster Frauding Patrol Control girl stop, and start to speak to me. She told me that I did not touch in at the start ? Why should I care I've got a quaterly card ? But that's not what the buggos reader told her ... After being quite convincing, or maybe she was afraid of me, she let me go. She was quite cluless though, and did not know how to deal with that. They don't have a backup reader, and she anyway don't understand how it works. She probably had a 5 minutes training, from which she just remember the butt of the instructor... anyway ... I want downstair to the assitant point.

A friendly guy checkout my card and say that everything was fine, I've got my subscription. He gave me a receipt with a lot of info. And what you can see on the receipt is that also I've got a valid zone 1-2 card, the stupid system decide to mark a pre-pay entry ! So I went up flash that at the Frauding Is a Crime Unit, Which did not what to do or to say except Oh.. That's not what magnetic god tell me ...

I touch out - still got to check they're not gonna take money out of my card for that - and went.

So if you are on the card, or pre-pay be careful and check regulary that you are not billed for what should not be.

NB: I do understand as a IT guy that complex system got bug, also I don't understand how the you've got a subscription then do nothing code can be bogus (synchronization, multiple process, dirty data ...)
NB: I do also appreciate how good the Oyster is, in Paris you don't have this flexibility, at least 2 years ago.

PS: the fact of making you pay a maximum fee if you forget to touch, is it not a bit against the innocent until proven guilty principle ?

2 comments:

Vonric said...

In Paris you have the Navigo card. And you can get the Carte Orange on it, so it is similar to the Oyster Card.
Except that French don't consider that the navigo system should be a rip-off for the customers and a way for Red-ken to full-fill the tranport system with money of all the prepaid Oyster users that have not used it entirely yet... !!

French Fry said...

@Vonric
the navigo card is fair less flexible than the oyster can you extends your Orange card if you need to, I don't remember you can.

TFL is expensive, probably because it less subsidized by as much by taxes.
There is a lot to say to much for a comment, and I can here the sound of the beer !