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The HOP Blacklist

Auckland Transport’s HOP card generally works pretty well for most people and is a vast improvement from what we had before with different ticketing systems for each mode/company. But almost 5 years on, it still has some amazingly annoying and very customer unfriendly bugs/features that they’ve never fixed. One of the chief among these what happens when an auto top-up fails due to a credit card expiring. The issue goes like this:

  1. Person sets up for their HOP card to be automatically topped up by a chosen amount from their credit card every time the HOP card drops below a pre-set balance. A great feature when it works.
  2. When the credit card expires – unlike most companies which a) stop attempting additional payments and b) contact the customer to get them to update the credit card details – AT keep on trying to charge the existing card. After failing a three times, AT then block the HOP card. The customer is blissfully unaware the payment has failed as the system will have already put money on the HOP card, until it is blocked.
  3. The customer then has to shell out $10 for a new card and in many cases loses whatever credit was left on their HOP card.

To make matters even worse, it appears that the original card and ‘stolen’ balance still show up when people log on.

Thanks to an OIA from one person affected, the herald have now revealed just how much this has happened.

More than 12,000 people have had their AT Hop cards blacklisted because their automatic top-ups failed.

And Auckland Transport is now reviewing its processes around how it notifies customers that their card is about to be blocked.

Yve Bourke was left stranded in July when her card was blacklisted and depended on the kindness of a stranger to pay her bus fare because Auckland Transport hadn’t told her that her card had been blocked.

“I went to get on the bus one morning and it declined and I thought, ‘That can’t be right’ so I tried a few more times and the bus driver told me I had to get off the bus.

“Luckily some lovely man paid for me who said to me, ‘You should check your credit card if you’ve got an auto top-up because mine expired mine last month and I got blacklisted.”

That turned out to be almost exactly what happened Bourke.

While I haven’t had it happen to me, I know it is incredibly annoying and embarrassing to find your card not working. I had it recently when an online top-up was delayed despite being before AT’s 10pm cutoff. This particular customer seems quite lucky that AT both transferred her balance and refunded her the cost of a new card. Most others I’ve heard this happened to aren’t so lucky.

So infuriated with the process, Bourke fired off an Official Information Act request to find out how many others had gone through the same ordeal.

Since their roll-out in June 2013, 12,124 people have had their cards blocked because of top-up failures totalling more than $330,000 in remaining value – however this figure includes the amount of the automatic top-ups even if the payment didn’t go through or whether the customer transferred the value to another Hop card.

Auckland Transport was not able to provide the actual amount of customers’ prepaid credit which it’s seized.

HOP actually first rolled out to trains at the end of 2012 but I’m guessing June 2013 is the date that AT pulled the data from. Based on that, it works out at AT blacklist an average of almost 11 cards every single day, that is huge. If it caused say 5% of those people to stop using public transport, that could equate to 300,000 trips a year.

Given the numbers this has happened to and the comments here and on social media we’ve regularly seen over the years, AT’s explanation that it they notify customers appears to be complete BS.

Spokesman Mark Hannan said three attempts were made to complete Bourke’s automatic top-up and admitted a trigger email wasn’t sent because there were two email addresses attached to her account and there “was some confusion”.

Usually, a customer would be notified of the problem twice before the card is blocked.

The agency is working on an AT Hop website improvement project which includes reviewing the notification process to “improve both the content of the email notification, and the subject, to make it clearer for customers”.

 

As mentioned this is only one of the many annoying quirks of HOP that exist and which have never been fixed. Some others include, but not limited to:

  • If you top up online but don’t tag on within 60 days the money disappears into a void.
  • Tagging on, then topping up as your balance is low, then tagging off can charge a penalty fare.
  • They still advise it can take up to 3 days for an online top up to occur – even only updating daily was archaic four years ago.

HOP Top Up Delay

I was aware the upgrade to Simplified Fares (this Sunday) involves some significant software upgrades to the HOP system. As such and not long before the fares were announced I asked Auckland Transport if the upgrade would also address some of these frustrations. The only answer I got was that they wouldn’t comment on it.

If improvements aren’t coming as part of the changes this weekend, then AT need to get on with it and with some urgency.

73 comments to The HOP Blacklist

  • MikeM

    Also if you lose a card with a balance you need to call customer services to get it moved to your replacement card

    • fab

      Yes – and apparently it can take up to 10 days for the balance to be transferred. Seriously?

      I has an issue similar to the one mentioned in the Herald – when I first got the HOP card and set-up an automatic top-up online, I set a date for the top-ups to stop – a year down the track (what was I thinking?). A year later, I boarded the bus and tried to swipe – card refused. The system does not issue a warning that the top-ups are about to stop. Surely it is a very straightforward thing to set-up – we get emails when a top-up has been done, we should get emails when the top-ups don’t work or are about to stop? AT’s response to Yve Bourke (that they had two email addresses for her, which caused confusion) is pathetic.

      My other gripe is that the value left on the card can vary dramatically between what is shown at MyHOP online, a HOP counter at Britomart, and the reader in the bus. It’s like there is no instant synchronisation between the different platforms.

    • T

      On MyAT I see the option to Transfer Balance when reporting a card as Lost
      http://i.imgur.com/OfAR6re.png
      Can’t confirm if it works, but the option is there!

  • T C

    Yep happened to me. I emailed AT to ask why they didn’t inform me that my card had been blacklisted. Was told that it was an error on my end for not setting my auto top up to expire shortly before my credit card expiry >:(

    • iiq374

      Yeah – they told me it was my fault for not checking I’d updated my credit card expiry.
      When I asked *where* and *how* I could check my expiry the conversation stopped.
      Literally – I’ve never had a reply to that question

      • T

        I went and changed it this morning after reading this article. (myhopaccount.co.nz -> My AT HOP Cards -> Manage auto top-up).
        Just revisited the site now, and have noticed my changes didn’t save.. Tried again, still didn’t save.. Guess you’d have to actually Stop your auto-topup and start a new one with the new parameters. That hop account website is dismal…

        • Yes see my comment further down. Just set it and leave it…won’t show as saved on the website until you tag on again.

          • T

            “won’t show as saved on the website until you tag on again.”
            Oh OK.. Now that I have made multiple changes and clicked to Stop/Disable the auto-topup multiple times, I wonder what will happen next time I tag on!

        • Seems the whole problem to me is that it’s centered around the fact that your balance is almost exclusively stored on the card rather than in hyperspace somewhere. I can imagine it is a challenge with moving vehicles etc to keep everything in sync but still – we have 4G mobile etc.

    • iiq374

      Not that anything is likely to come of it – but there is slight possibility of getting more acid put on AT over this by alerting the reporter to the incorrect information they have been provided.
      My feedback to them provided below FYI:

      I would like you to consider amending a grevious error in your story:
      “Usually, a customer would be notified of the problem twice before the card is blocked.”

      This is completely false – I am not aware of any situation in which any of the people I know (including myself) have received *any* notification before being blocked.
      By advising that the customer is notified is a total mis-statement of fact and leads to a mis-representation of the situation.

      I understand you were taking the word of AT to make the original representation – however it would be prudent to advise the correct situation.

      If you want to verify this with many of the people who this has occurred to you may want to refer here:
      http://transportblog.co.nz/2016/08/10/the-hop-blacklist

    • iiq374

      But of course we have complete faith in the design and assessment skills of this organisation to pull off a multi-billion dollar project; when they can’t setup a ticketing system.

      And of course the mobile app version that was ‘in Beta’ multiple years ago justifying why they didn’t go with the other option that already had app capability etc has also been a great success right?
      Oh; right; *vapourware*.
      Still I’m sure somebody had some nice trips to France

      • Bigted

        AT wanted to set up their own system rather than use one that already existed so they held the unspent and ‘missing’ money that disappears into the black hole.

        • Nick R

          Not true sorry, NZTA created a national ticketing standard and required Auckland Transport to comply. When Snapper couldn’t be make to work with the national standard it had to be dropped in favour of the Thales solution that could.It’s for the best in the end, Snapper was slow and crappy old technology and AT Hop is a far better system.

          And to be honest, Hop went in very easily and cheaply. Read about the debacles they had with Oyster, Myki, Opal and various other smartcard schemes. Auckland’s was a dream in comparison.

          • iiq374

            My understanding was that the National Ticketing Standard was put in place *after* Hop and it was Wellington, not Auckland that was forced to comply?

          • Bigted

            Is WRC not looking at using Snapper? I heard they were, but it just something I heard.

          • Nick R

            Snapper was setting up in Auckland. NZTA created the standard. Snapper lost the tender for Auckland by being a crappy technology that required all of the data and the float to sit with Infratil instead of the government. Snapper appealed the decision and lost again. Snapper rolled out anyway and tried to force their way in by fait accompli. They delayed things for ages trying to get their obsolete technology to work with the modern system, but failed. Eventually the pulled out.

            I’m not sure what is happening in Wellington, maybe they’ve been thrown a bone.

          • iiq374

            You keep quoting “crappy technology”; yet every empirical data point seems to point to the current system being worse.
            So if the other one was “crappy” would the words that should describe the current one be allowed to be printed?

            Also the part of the tender you’re referring to seems to be after Thales was awarded the billing portion of the system, then refusing to give Snapper the interfacing specifications.
            And the justification of using Thales as the billing engine based on its ‘flexibility’ seems somewhat flawed given the ‘development’ excuse that has been trotted out as the reason for delay ever since for every fare change

          • Wellington Commuter

            I’m pretty sure the GWRC has rejected Hop for the time being and will now expand base the integrated ticketing for the upcoming PTOM based bus services on Snapper at least for the Interim (refer their Press Release a month ago http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=90404) … it seems that the endless delays by the GWRC on every major transport project they are involved with can sometimes have a silver lining …

          • Nick R

            Empirical yes, based on using it and the slow read times and fail rate.

  • iiq374

    “AT’s explanation that it they notify customers appears to be complete BS”.

    The notification they are referring to is the one that gets sent every time a topup is triggered.
    No, really. That’s what AT think is a notification and is helpful is the:
    “Please check we can successfully process your payment” email that you get for *every* top up.

    And not only do they taunt you with the phantom card – it *still* does *not show the failed transaction*

    Dear xxx

    An email was sent (see screenshot below) to karllaird@gmail.com providing all information needed to ensure a successful auto top-up could occur.

    Customers are responsible for ensuring their payment account is active and has sufficient funds to cover their auto top-ups.

    When an auto top-up is triggered Auckland Transport HOP add the funds to your AT HOP card in the meantime of recovering this payment from your account. If the payment is unsuccessful three time the card is block to ensure no more use of Auckland Transport monies are used.

    If you have any further feedback or enquiries you can contact us on (09) 366 4467 or alternatively you can send a webform.

    Kind regards

    • Greg

      What email is this?

      I have auto-topup triggering at some random amount left. Not one single time have I ever had an email indicating it has been topped up. I only know about it because it tops up an amount that triggers an alert from my credit card company.

      • iiq374

        Your AT HOP card has been automatically topped up. Please check we can successfully process your payment.

        Your AT HOP card xxxxxxx was automatically topped up with $ $‎50.00, as per your current Auto Top-Up settings when your HOP Money balance reduced to $ 20.00 .

        This amount will be debited from your bank account, credit or debit card on the next available day. If the payment is declined for any reason, we will attempt to debit the amount up to two more times.

        If your payment is declined three times, it will result in your card being permanently blocked and any remaining products on this card being forfeited. Your bank or credit/debit card provider may also charge you dishonour fees.

        If you change your bank account, credit or debit card, please login to your MyAT Account at AT.govt.nz/athop and update your payment details. To make changes to your payment details, or Auto Top-Up settings, login into your MyAT Account and click on View Transactions, then Manage auto top-up.

        If your credit or debit card has expired recently, and you have not yet updated these payment details for your AT HOP card in your MyAT Account, your card provider may decline your payment.

        We value you as a customer, so if you have any questions, please call us on 09 366 4467.

         

        AT HOP Team

        Terms of use and registered prospectus for the AT HOP cards are available at AT.govt.nz/athop or at the Transport Information Centre, Britomart. The obligations of Auckland Transport under the AT HOP cards are unsecured.

        AT HOP 1585

        WARNING This email may contain information which is CONFIDENTIAL and may be subject to LEGAL PRIVILEGE. If you are not the intended recipient, you must not peruse, use, disseminate, distribute or copy this email or attachments. If you have received this in error, please notify us immediately by return email, facsimile or telephone (call us collect) and delete this email. Thank you. Phone: +64 9 355 3553 or Fax: +64 9 355 3550. AUCKLAND TRANSPORT ACCEPTS NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR CHANGES MADE TO THIS EMAIL OR TO ANY ATTACHMENTS AFTER TRANSMISSION FROM AUCKLAND TRANSPORT. Nothing in this email designates an information system for the purposes of section 11(a) of the New Zealand Electronic Transaction Act 2002, unless expressly stated otherwise.

      • T

        Can confirm I too have never received an auto-topup confirmation email. I did receive an initial email that my auto-topup was set up successfully. My email address is correctly registered, is a bog-standard gmail, and it’s not ending up in the spam.

        This has me worried about the Simplified Fares launch, if they haven’t made some serious improvements to their software development then it does not bode well.

  • Trundler

    I had to go into the suburbs of Melbourne the other day and realised I had to have a myki card to go anywhere on the train. I remembered I had an old one that I had put $20 on about 3-4 years ago in my wallet but not used since (I normally stay and work in CBD when in MEL). Tried to top it up on a machine and it said card had expired, so I trotted off to the ticket office and asked the lady to buy a new myki card. She laughed at me and instead gave me a brand new card for free and transferred the remaining $15 from my old card onto the new one and wished me well.

    Why HOP can’t be this customer focused is a mystery!

    • I used my old Metrocard in Christchurch recently about four years after I last used it, had no trouble at all. It’s the same one I’ve had since the system was introduced in around 2003. I see no reason something should be blocked after a period of non-use.

  • Sailor Boy

    It’s pretty simple surely for the system to send an email to all associated accounts and a text to the phone associated with the account,stop the auto top up and then do nothing else?

    Surely this current process cannot be legal?

    • Agree, I just can’t see any reason to blacklist a card for this reason, just send a notification and let people continue to use their cards until the balance is zero. If they don’t get the notification the cardholder will likely attempt to do something about it then. It’s completely baffling. The reporter needs to ask AT why they block the cards in this situation.

  • Bigted

    Rumour has it that there is around $1M per year that just disappears into the HOP system never to be seen again.

  • MikeG

    With regard to point 3 “The customer then has to shell out $10 for a new card and in many cases loses whatever credit was left on their HOP card.” in the post, my experience was slightly different. In my case, the HOP balance showed positive, but because the money was never extracted from my bank account I owed AT money. I had to pay $10 for a new card etc, but the amount I owed AT was greater than that. However, I would have preferred not to have gone through the hassle of getting a new card etc.

    • iiq374

      Yeah – that raises the other issue that I’ve hit before around disputed transactions which has never been answered either; why is the transaction history for the Hop card that they allow the customer to see *completely different* to the transaction history that they have internally?

  • I am the victim of this. When contacted AT HOP customer care via email and asked the same question
    on this process they dont even reply to the emails.

  • Craig

    Its not just credit cards that expiring. I had two hop cards blocked with a valid credit card and plenty of credit left on the credit card.

    AT said my HOP cards were blocked because of a payment error, ans passive aggressively pointed to the HOP T&Cs saying that I accept if there is a payment error that AT has the right to blacklist my card.

    The credit card was working fine, and I even contacted my bank to check, and I still have the same number and expiry today, so watch out, even if it isn’t your fault they will still quote the T&C in your face and refuse to refund you your credit and cost of a new card.

    The system is so stupid. They should be confirming the payment first, before topping up the card. This will forfeit the need to blacklist so many cards due to payment issues.
    Even if they did keep this stupid system in place, wouldn’t it be better to make the user go into negative balance, and force them to top up manually (e.g. at a kiosk or machine or online one off Top up) to restore the use of their card? It would have the same effect as blocking the card until the issue has been rectified by the user.

    Stupid system.

  • I had a friend who lost $100 of credit on his HOP card when getting on a bus that then cancelled due to breakdown or what ever. He did the online request for refund (but didn’t ever phone up I think), never heard back & has reverted to using cash for every trip.

    Things I have noticed are (have several kids cards):
    If you setup a Auto top up online and before it gets applied to the card – ie before you tag on, & you want to check what was setup, it reverts back to the default figures $1 etc. You have to set, apply and leave it. Very user unfriendly & confusing.

    Missing tag-off’s don’t affect the running balance when you look at the transactions, until the next line…very weird and confusing.

  • Alex B

    Not sure if anyone ever had this issue, but I have the monthly pass activated on my HOP, as well as some extra dollars just in case. For few days the monthly does its job, however few days in I noticed that everytime I tag on and off money gets deducted from my main balance even though I got a monthly. Took this with the customer service at Britomart and they offered no explanation and offered a refund. Nearly a month later, still have no refund.

  • GlenK

    I have to admit to being intrigued about the drama that seems to come with owning a HOP Card (and to a lesser extent, a Snapper card in Wgtn). As well as these two, I have also had a MetroCard for Chch for ~12 years with barely an issue:

    – If I do an online topup via credit card, it comes through virtually instantly (very handy when my panicky children inform me just before they’re heading out the door that their card needs topping up)
    – It has an “IOU” function that allows your card to go slightly into debit to complete a trip, on the assumption that 99.9% of people will subsequently top up before next time.
    (Not to mention the free transfers and $5.10 daily max that the MetroCard system also allows)

    There are some nice features of the other systems that would be great to have on MetroCard. Notwithstanding the gist of this article, the idea of automatic topups would save me a lot of topping up cards for me and my children. And I like the ability of Snapper to be able to topup directly with a NFC smartphone. But the grief experienced when HOP/Snapper get it wrong makes me quite thankful for the apparent simplicity and reliability of the MetroCard.

  • Bruce

    The website for HOP isn’t particularly user friendly either.
    I do find it amazing that they just keep trying to charge a credit card though.

  • I have several cards, one for myself and others for my wife & children. 2nd one I got NEVER had the auto top-up work consistently for some mystery. Identical setup to all the others, just never got applied it seems (says auto top-up status is “disabled”). Tried several times, phoned AT help desk and he just tried setting it up also. Seemed it’s the card itself won’t apply it…weird. You can top it up at a machine I’ve left it in a negative balance for about the cost of the card and have left it in a bottom drawer somewhere. Wasted so much time on it.

  • John p

    The day they fix the auto top up problem will be the day I set it back up. My debit card declined and they still credited my hop card anyway. Which is a joke. My old blocked card has almost $10 on it, so it basically cost me $20 after a new card.
    I don’t know why they do it this way.
    So until they fix it I’m topping up at the shop as my bank account is often empty a day or 2 before payday, so auto top up is risky.

  • Waspman

    Unable to log on to my account as it won’t recognise the password, despite many resets all recommended by AT. They are bereft of ideas. 2016 and AT can’t set up a functioning website.

  • Mike (the longstanding one)

    A suggestion for those with money on blocked cards: why not use the Disputes Tribunal process http://disputestribunal.govt.nz/ to get your money back? I suspect that a few such claims would help concentrate AT’s mind on this issue.

  • Kevin

    I had two cards blocked. The first one because in the early days some of the readers on Birkenhead buses weren’t functioning properly and you couldn’t log off so they blocked the card. Second time I hadn’t used the card for 3 mths so they blocked the card – 3 mths!!!

    So I gave up. I’ve emailed AT Len Brown, Lester Levy…..

  • Chris S

    This happened to my girlfriend as well. She cancelled her CC as she lost it but forgot to cancel the auto-topup, card blocked and had to buy a new one.

    The email notification informing her of the failed transaction looked just like the normal top up notification on first glance, that’s definitely something they need to improve.

    I don’t understand why they don’t just remove the money they couldn’t get from your account balance, or let you top up manually to reactivate the card.

  • Stephen

    I’ve also had this problem, and it has cost me a lot and their web site for trying to transfer funds from lost cards is just as bad. I still have funds on lost cards that I need to transfer, but when I try it on the website it often blocks the card befpre transferring the funds, and after that you can no longer transfer them. Glad something is going to be done at last.

  • And for all the effort, it isn’t even a smart card (it can’t calculate multiple trips into a single fare, or combine bus & train fares, and has very slow transaction times of hours or days).

    Snapper on the other hand has none of the issues mentioned, and is available at over 120 retail locations. How many places can you buy a HOP card? Ten?

    Wellington certainly made the right call when recently deciding to stick with Snapper.

    • bjfoe

      https://at.govt.nz/bus-train-ferry/at-hop-card/at-hop-retailers

      It was really really easy to find this list.

      136 outlets total, it looks like about half are AT facilities of some kind.

      Snapper was so determined to hijack the system selection process for Auckland that ever since then I tend to suspect some shill factor whenever anyone says anything positive about them.

    • “it can’t calculate multiple trips into a single fare, or combine bus & train fares”

      Yes it can, AT are using hop to roll out integrated zone fares shortly, and are implementing fare caps. It does exactly those things.

    • It’s hard to take you seriously when you say in the same week that integrated fares are going to make it possible to take multiple trips across multiple modes using your hop car you say “it can’t calculate multiple trips into a single fare, or combine bus & train fares”.

      Snapper are reducing the number of retail outlets you can top up at, as a result of their failure to capture the contactless payment market.

      • Mike (the longstanding one)

        Just to clarify, fare systems people differentiate between contactless cards, meaning credit or debit cards, and smart cards: Snapper is in the latter, not the former. It has withdrawn from the non-transport retail market, but Snapper cards can still be bought and topped up at retailers.

  • Tim G.

    This has happened recently to me also. There is no ‘warning’ email that the transaction has failed. The only emails they send are standard “Your AT HOP card Auto Top-Up has been triggered” messages which are sent every time. Even though the transaction fails an additional two times, they don’t send you an email to let you know that’s the case. Even though they clearly want to be paid, AT don’t think contacting the customer might lead to them getting their money faster. Clearly they know it fails, but don’t specifically let the user know that’s the case. I spoke with AT on the phone and apparently this used to happen, and will happen again soon, but for some reason they stopped doing it. Also, considering all IP payment gateways provide real-time payment status I’m unsure why they can’t clear the payment directly before the new balance is triggered.

    Further despite the ‘Transfer Balance’ function appearing as an option online, this won’t work for transferring a balance from a blocked card, you need to call them. Once that happens, your balance, even on a card that’s blocked and can’t be used takes 10 days to transfer. Just credit my new card and take your time with the old card, why keep the customer waiting. It’s just poor process and architecture. Excuse the rant, but the lot of it isn’t at all designed for a customer focussed experience.

  • Kelvin

    This had exactly happened to me. Notification email went to junk, card blocked.
    What makes it worse is the customer service doesn’t give a shit and refuse to refund my forced purchase of new card.

    Never use the visa auto top-up anymore

  • And here I am, able to get $20 paid with cash on to someone else’s card (inconveniently left in the machine, which I didn’t realise until it was too late*) put on to my card. In fact, a quick glance at the comments suggests that AT is fairly good (possibly slow) after the fact, but not so in terms of preventative measures.

    *Turns out the machines only display the “what do you want to do screen” when there is a card in there. Lots of other things keep such things open after people have changed their minds. I cleared that, stuck my card in, it opened again and then I realised the mistake when consulting the receipt. I think this was possibly still when there were transaction costs for topping up.

  • Sam F

    I’ve avoided online and auto top up like the plague ever since I got my AT HOP card four years ago, and every time I see these endless posts and comments calling for a fix, I feel I’ve dodged a bullet. It’s astonishing that all this has been public knowledge since easily 2012, yet still remains unsolved.

    • I’ve done the same as you, I just top up at the train station. It’s a real blight though on a system that has otherwise been rolled out relatively trouble free compare with the systems in either Melbourne or Sydney.

      • Nik

        I’m in Sydney and the roll out of Opal, while a little slow and annoying in terms of getting hold of a card, wasn’t too much of a drama from a user perspective.

        In terms of Auto Top-up, I’m against it and normally top up every fortnight, after I get paid. The only time I’ve had an issue is when I forgot to top up and topped up online and had to wait 10-15 minutes before the balance appeared.

  • Dev

    Hi, I faced the situation. Recently when I tried to use my AT HOP card, I shocked to know that it got blocked. Luckily I have 5$ left in my picket which saved me from dropping the important trip, otherwise it would be miserable for me.

    I thought it’s a nice feature and activated it, I never thought this featured will be a night made for me. I still don’t understand the reason for auto topup failed, when I have sufficient funds in my linked debit account. I never got any notification or email suggesting about my card blockage. When I approached the AT HOP guys in Britomart, AT representative asked to show my bank statement, I showed and proved that I have balance in my linked AC. Then he simply asked to contact the bank without explaining the reason for my failure of Auto topup. I have spent 2 hrs at Britomart on this issue which went waste, I don’t wanted to waste again going to the bank and again going back to AT. I lost around $17 balance in my AT card and $10 spent on buying the card. It is not legitimate and fair that this AT is not able to look into such technical errors and not able to advise the customers. I am very disappointed about the immaturity of the AT. Please improve the system.

    • Ian

      Pretty much exactly what happened to me as well. Plenty of money in the bank account to cover a $20 auto top up, and instead I’m out ~$16 and another $10 for a new card – plus the inconvenience of having to miss a bus and be late. Just absurd and insulting.

  • Dan C

    The worst thing about this issue is that AT have no plans to fix it. I guess they are doing quite handsomely out of all the seized cash balances!

    Forget starting a project to ‘improve the subject line of the email’. Start a project the fix the blacklisting. Its quite simple, if a CC transaction doesnt go through, instead of blacklisting simply reverse the credit to their hop balance. User will hit negative balance eventually and notice when they cant travel. User can then resolve by topping up.

  • Chris Randal

    Perhaps an investigation by the Fraud Squad might help concentrate the brilliant minds ar AT into implementing a fix.

  • Dave B (Wellington)

    Might as well just go back to paying cash fares. One inadvertent HOP penalty incident or accidental forfeiture of HOP balance can wipe away any supposed HOP savings for months. The way it’s set up, the system is a crock.

    Much better to have a simple magnetic-strip cardboard-ticket system whereby you pre-purchase unlimited travel for a defined time in a defined zone and don’t have to think any further about balance, top-ups or penalties.
    When the card expires you simply throw it away and buy another one, if you want. You are in control.

    This system has worked well in many metro areas for many decades.

    By contrast, smart-card systems with balance deducted per-ride and penalties if you forget to tag-off or hold your tongue the wrong way, offer a significantly inferior service to customers. All the gain is to the operator who can stingily charge for every metre travelled and can amass lots of tag-on/tag-off statistics, and of course to the middle-man administering the card system.

    I believe we have been collectively very un-smart in embracing the so-called ‘smart-card’ system.

  • Gillian

    Glad to know I’m not the only one this has happened to. In my case, the bus driver was kind enough to let me travel – I got the feeling this had happened before. At the Newmarket railway station “customer service” desk it quickly became apparent why they needed a sign up asking people to be nice to their staff. I couldn’t believe I had no option but to buy a new pass. My bank will let me block and unblock my own credit card, in case I misplace it. Why should this be any different?

    Even more unbelievable was the official explanation that it was their policy not to contact customers about auto-renewal failures because “people don’t read their e-mails”. Here’s a novel notion – if your current means of communication with your customers is not working – try another one!

    I rarely get the opportunity to use public transport – it doesn’t serve the area I work in. Experiences like this do not encourage me.

  • Stranded on the North Shore

    Answer to all and more of these problems – contactless credit cards. Oyster is basically the same as our AT Hop – run by Thales also – just with different business rules set by AT. Introducing London Contactless – the “upgraded Oyster” – https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/contactless – basically use your credit card instead of Oyster Monday to Sunday and the system will automatically work out the best fares (ie. capped) for you and will even interpolate/guess any missing tag-offs so that you’re not charged penalty charges. How about that? Why have NZ government insisted in implementing yesterday’s technology? Added bonus – AT doesn’t hold any of your money!

    • Dave B (Wellington)

      Sounds way better. Why can’t New Zealand lead rather than lag when it comes to this sort of thing?

    • Sailor Boy

      “basically use your credit card instead of Oyster Monday to Sunday and the system will automatically work out the best fares (ie. capped) for you and will even interpolate/guess any missing tag-offs so that you’re not charged penalty charges” that is a service difference, not a tech difference. AT could do that tomorrow, with HOP if they wanted to make PT use a positive experience.

      • Stranded on the North Shore

        There is still hope… The Thales system is definitely compatible with contactless (paywave/paypass) credit cards, AT just needs a new backend to process these. The current (prepay) AT Hop would most likely stay for people without credit cards, and that’s exactly what Transport for London did.

        • Mike (the longstanding one)

          SotNS: I agree in principle, but IT and transport are always more complex than they appear. “AT just needs to” will almost cettainly embrace a whole host of legal, political and operational minefields, with lots of digits at the end.

          • Stranded on the North Shore

            Agreed. What I’m trying to point out is that the missing component for AT to accept credit cards is purely software – ie. the current physical infrastructure supports it already. And, yes that “software” is not small by any means in many ways, however it has been implemented somewhere else, so that could potentially mean we don’t have to reinvent the wheel completely.

    • Mike (the longstanding one)

      I think that the development of contactless since AT Hop was being developed is at least part of the reason by Wellington isn’t going down the Hop track – it doesn’t want to spend money on what has become a legacy system. Hence Snapper as short-term option – at least GWRC is making sure that free bus transfers are in place when the new network is rolled out, now anticipated to be in July 2018.

      • Stranded on the North Shore

        I recall that the specs for AT Hop were dictated by the government as they wanted a nationwide system. Snapper wasn’t compatible apparently. That would mean Wellington would need to comply too at some stage… unless of course government changes their mind… they wouldn’t, would they?

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