A couple of weeks ago I had a surprising email from Transport for London. It told me that I was due a refund of £4 because of an ‘operational issue’. It said that the refund was ready to be picked up from London Bridge Underground station. This was just the start of a whole new discovery. I rang the Oyster helpdesk because I had several questions. First and foremost, what was the ‘operational issue’. Would you believe it, no-one could tell me the answer to that question. The closest I came to an answer was someone suggesting that the issue occured at London Bridge station which was why that was where the refund was waiting to be picked up. Great, I thought. They’ve finally fixed the OSI between the gatelines and decided to refund me because I’d suffered overcharges. Then it suddenly dawned on me that the refund was at London Bridge Underground station. That blew his suggestion out of the water because I had never been through London Bridge Underground with that Oyster card ever. I did, just once, touch in there, but that was to pick-up my auto top-up instruction in the days before South Eastern accepted Oyster. Plus, that entry was immediately cancelled by the ticket office as I already had a paper travelcard for the day.
My next question was could I set it so that any future automatic refunds were sent to Crayford station. No, that’s not possible apparently. I have to wait eight days for the refund to fail, then phone up or email and ask for it to be sent elsewhere. Great. What a palava this would be.
Eight days later and I phone up the helpdesk again. The operative tells me that my refund is now at Crayford and gives me a new reference number. They still can’t tell me why I’m due a refund, and still can’t tell the system to send refunds to a station of my choice. Two days later I go to Crayford and touch in, but no refund. Just before I pick up the phone again I get an email telling me that the refund at London Bridge has failed and inviting me to reactivate it online with a new station. I’ll try anything once so I do this. The next day I get a confirmation email telling me that it’s ready, and yesterday I successfully collect the refund.
So, the moral of the story is be patient. Let TfLs system do it’s stuff and it’ll all work out.
As for the reason, well I’m still puzzled. I’ve always claimed a refund immediately whenever something has gone wrong and I check my journey history regularly to spot any errors. I think it probably is the failed OSI at London Bridge mainline, but I may not be doing that journey again for a while to find out.