Contactless charging less than Oyster

I’ve recently had several queries where people were charged less than they expected using a CPC, or even less than they were charged making the same journeys with Oyster at a different time.  The reason is the different way that capping is calculated when using CPCs.  There’s a new page which tries to explain the detail.  It’s quite complex in places, so I welcome questions and comments.

12 thoughts on “Contactless charging less than Oyster”

  1. Where is the nearest tube station from Kingston upon Thames where I can cash in on my oyster card which isn’t registered and has £70.00 on it and what identification do I need

    • Hi Rachel,

      You’re looking at either branch of the District line, but not actually Wimbledon or Richmond. I’m not convinced that any tube stations will refund more than £10 on the spot though. You normally need a recent bill or bank statement with your address on it.

  2. Hi Mike,
    I have been following your site for a while and thought I’d share my latest weekend travel experiences.

    I was showing my parents around London on Saturday and they were using Adult (pay as you go) Oyster Cards and I was using my Contactless Credit Card.

    We started and ended our trip in Hackney Central where all westbound London Overground trains go to either Clapham Junction or Richmond.

    We decided to go to Richmond, followed by a lovely walk along the river and into Ham where we caught a bus to Kingston.

    In this case, the Oyster users were charged less for the same bus journey and we were all charged more than justified for Kingston – Hackney Central on the way back.

    Looking for a convenient way to get home with only one change, we could have travelled via Richmond (avoiding Zone 1) but the next train wasn’t until 15:59 which meant we would have arrived at Hackney Central by 17:18.
    Instead, we took the 15:48 to Clapham Junction, transferred to London Overground and got to Hackney Central 10 minutes earlier, also avoiding Zone 1 but this journey is unfortunately not recognised as such.

    Oyster Journey details:
    Saturday, 13 August 2016
    £6.80 daily total

    15:45 – 17:09 Kingston [National Rail] to Hackney Central £5.30

    17:09 Touch out, Hackney Central £0.00
    16:11 Touched pink card reader, Clapham Junction [National Rail] £0.00
    15:45 Touch in, Kingston [National Rail] £5.30

    14:11 Bus journey, route 571 £0.00

    11:22 – 12:17 Hackney Central to Richmond £1.50
    12:17 Touch out, Richmond +£3.80
    11:22 Touch in, Hackney Central £5.30

    Contactless Journey details:
    13/08/2016 £8.30

    Hackney Central to Richmond
    11:22 – 12:17

    Bus Journey, Route 571

    Kingston to Hackney Central
    15:45 – 17:09

    Details for the last journey:
    Saturday 13th August 2016
    Fare for this journey: £5.30
    15:45 (yellow reader) Kingston

    16:11 (pink reader) Clapham Junction

    17:09 (yellow reader) Hackney Central
    from Transport for London:
    Monday 1 August until early September 2016
    Petersham Road, between Sandy Lane and Star and Garter Hill
    will be closed for utility works.
    Route 65 will be diverted, route 371 will not run. Free routes
    565, 571 and 572 will run instead. You will still need to tap in,
    but won’t be charged.
    Buses will serve all stops on each route.

    • Hi Matthias,

      Re: the bus, that looks like an error which may get corrected. Check your online history tomorrow or Wednesday to see if a credit is applied, otherwise call the helpdesk and ask them to adjust it. The reason I suggest waiting is because the helpdesk will almost certainly need to take bank details for a transfer, whereas if it’s sorted automatically it will go back to the credit card that it came from. However, you may decide to call anyway because …

      As for the routeing issue I can only sympathise. There won’t be many instances where travel via Clapham Junction is faster than via Richmond for that journey. Having said that, I see no reason why they shouldn’t allow it as an alternative route. If/when you call the helpdesk you could ask whether they will refund the difference as a goodwill gesture. It’s clear that you avoided zone 1 by the touch at Clapham Junction. You could also ask them to consider adding the route. They may ask you to email the request in.

  3. Hi Mike,
    You were absolutely right regarding the bus: cannot be refunded to the same card and so had to provide my bank details.
    I had to speak to two different advisors because the person who handled Oyster issues would not deal with Contactless matters.
    The “Oyster guy” came up with a seemingly random “correct fare” of £3.50 for Kingston-Clapham Junction-Hackney Central and thus offered to refund me 2x £1.80 = £3.60 but the “Contactless guy” who I spoke to afterwards, insisted that the journey was defined as Z1-6 and I should have looked it up online or phoned in if I wanted to know which route was allowed and which was not. He also insisted that a bus journey costs £1.50 until I quoted the TfL publicity regarding the free shuttle.
    This is all rather unsatisfactory, so I put my expeience in writing, sending a letter of suggestion / complaint to TfL now ending:

    “I am hoping you will find a way to updating the charge system to treat Kingston – Clapham Junction – Hackney Central as Zone 6 to Zone 2 and in the meantime, I would be most grateful for clarification and a refund of 2x (£5.30 – £2.70 – £1.80) + 1x (£5.30 – £2.70) = £4.20”

    • Hi Matthias,

      That’s frustrating when you get two people with different views as to what is reasonable. Let me know what you get back from your letter.

  4. Hi Mike,
    The response to my first class letter came via email today. This was a nice surprise as I had not even included my email address in the letter.
    TfL do not comment on my suggestion to include Clapham Junction and then repeat that some journeys are defined as going through Z1 which I already knew.

    In any case, from an operational point of view it probably makes sense to deter passengers from using CLJ as an interchange because it is a very busy station.

    To me it does seem rather punitive though to charge KNG-CLJ-HKC at £5.30 when separately KNG-CLJ is £2.70 and CLJ-HKC is £1.50 (off peak prices).

    After a lecture on allowed routes and pink validator usage, I was still offered another refund of £7.80 “on this occasion” which is just as well I think for the trouble I have had.

    • Your email address will be attached to your online account. Good to see you got a refund. Not so good that they don’t want to add via Clapham Junction route. Once you’ve received the refund you could still respond back stating that you know all the rules about defined routes and all that, but please could they either add via Clapham Junction or explain why they can’t or won’t.

  5. Hi Mike,
    my and my family are about to visit London next weekend.
    We will stay in Ilfor close to the TFL rail station.
    We are 5 of us 2 adults and 3 children of 5, 10 and 12 yo.
    Both me and my wife have a contactless debit card (Maestro).
    Do they work? Do we need anythink alse?
    Our children will travel with us on the TFL network, of course. Does any of them need a Olyster card to have the Young Visitor Discount? It could be charge on our card?

    • Hi Guiseppe,

      The 5 and 10 year olds travel free on the TfL network. The 12 year old will need an Oyster card with the Young Visitor discount. You can use one of your debit cards to top up their Oyster card at ticket machines. As long as you both have contactless cards then you and your wife should be fine with them. I’m pretty sure that European cards all work ok.

  6. Perfect Mike
    I think it’s too late to be posted to me a visitor olyster card.
    Where and when can I do it once we arrived?
    Thank you

    • You can buy an Oyster card when you arrive. Non visitor cards are actually better as you can get the £5 deposit refunded at the end whereas the visitor card has a £3 non-refundable fee. Details for getting the young visitor discount are on the TfL website here.

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