Missing Contactless touches

Time for another update on my personal adventures.  On Monday evening I decided to visit some of the new Overground lines and stations in North East London.  I also took along my son with his zip card for company.  Everything worked fine on the night, but examining my history the next day has highlighted a couple of missing touches, all of which were recorded on the zip card.  At least one of the missing touches was made on the exact same reader within seconds.

The first miss was at Walthamstow Central which was a touch out on a validator.  When we touched in at Walthamstow Queens Road my contactless has treated that as a touch out (it was a validator again).  We touched the pink validator at Blackhorse Road which has been used as a touch in for me, meaning that I was outside the system between Walthamstow QR and Blackhorse Road.  Not a disaster, but if I’d been revenue checked in that time?

Next stop was Tottenham Hale where the logical link between the LU and NR stations has been blocked off so that everyone has to go through two sets of gates.  My son did the hokey-cokey at the NR gates (in-out-in again) so that his Oyster history wouldn’t end up in a circular journey or exceeding maximum journey time.  Experience says that contactless will break an OSI to achieve this so I didn’t need the extra touches.

Onto Liverpool Street and my entry to the LU station has been missed.   This was probably at the adjacent gate to the one my son used, but the gate definitely opened.  Thus when I touched out at Bank it’s shown it as an incomplete journey and is offering to allow me to update the journey.  I’ve declined at this stage because I’m not convinced it will then join all the segments together, especially given the other missing touch earlier on.  It also didn’t join Bank and Cannon Street NR together, presumably because of the incomplete journey.

I have to stress that I’m confident that this will all get resolved, probably by the missing data mysteriously turning up in a day or so.  It’s happened to me once before and all was fine.  However, if the delay causes additional money to be taken from my account then it’s not really an ideal scenario.  The other time I was actually undercharged to start with because the system tried to guess what I’d missed out and made somewhat of a hash of it.

And the really annoying thing?  Google maps isn’t letting me show the new quick walking route between the Walthamstow stations yet, so the map page isn’t quite right.  The route is signposted in both directions so people shouldn’t get lost, hopefully.

20 thoughts on “Missing Contactless touches”

  1. Back in June, I went from Heathrow to Wanstead via Clapham Junction, avoiding Zone 1. I used a credit card because I’d forgotten my Oyster card, and I ‘went pink’ at West Brompton and Canada Water.

    I expected – well, hoped – to pay £2.80. But I ended up with TWO incomplete journeys at £7.60 each: one where I touched in at Heathrow but not out at Wanstead (it picked up the pink touches), and another where I touched out at Wanstead but not in at Heathrow. Madness.

    Long story short, I eventually got the £12.40 back, in three payments – one to the credit card, and two to my bank account. One payment they said they’d sent didn’t arrive, and they wanted to see my financial records as proof. I wasn’t prepared to share my statements with them, and they eventually sent the missing money “again, as a gesture of goodwill”.

    What a palaver.

    • Hi Luke,

      I suspect that your journey took longer than the allowed maximum journey time for 7 zones (6-5-4-3-2-3-4). You also technically went the wrong way. The single fare finder gives two avoiding zone 1 routes but they both go round the north of London. However, I’m glad they eventually compensated you. This is certainly a journey where circling to the south makes as much sense as to the north.

  2. Hi Mike,

    I am trying to work the best fare/ticket out for me when I start work in London.
    The station I travel from is outside London on NR Stevenage. In London I could exit at either Hampstead Heath or Belsize Park.
    I know for either I would have to go via Kings Cross or Finsbury Park to change from NR to tube or overground.
    I tried online to get cost for an annual ticket for both part of the journey. I do have an oyster card, but it does not cover Stevenage.
    Could you give me some advise how to get the best ti ket combination sorted please.


    • Hi Christiane,

      If you can travel via Finsbury Park and Highbury & Islington then you’ll avoid zone 1 which will be cheaper. A Stevenage to zones 2-6 travelcard is £3784/year. If you make it zones 1-6 then it’s £4776/year. You can save £16 if you split the ticket into a Stevenage to zones 4-6 travelcard and a zone 1-3 travelcard where the latter ticket could then go on your Oyster card. There are no splitting anomalies if you don’t include zone 1.

  3. Hi Mike, I wonder if you can help a very confused parent of 11yr just about to start secondary school in Potters Bar, Herts. Occasionally my child may have to get a bus either to or from school, does he require an Oyster card (am I right in thinking buses no longer accept cash, as you can tell I am a car user!) or a bus pass (if that still exist so).

    Many thanks,


  4. Hi Mike,

    Could you please help me by suggesting the cheapest option for going from Westbourne Park tube station to Dagenham east tube station Monday to Friday at peak time for the next month. I greatly appreciate any advice.


    • Hi Andrew,

      There are no alternative routes between Westbourne Park and Dagenham East. If you only want to commute then PAYG is probably cheaper than a monthly travelcard. If you might also use buses or trains at the weekend or in the evenings then you’ll need a zone 1-5 travelcard.

  5. Hi there,

    I received a letter demanding £80 for traveling without valid ticket or Oyster on London Overground. Apparently, as I have not paid a £40 fine it has doubled to £80 but I did not even know about this, nor have i ever received a penalty fine! The letter said I went through an Overground Station about 3 weeks ago without a ticket or oyster card, however I have never even stopped or changed at that Station? And I was at work at the time, as I only finish at 7pm and this was in the afternoon. I am confused as to how this could happen. Could someone have used my name and address after being caught without a ticket or is this some kind of admin error? I have never received a penalty on any public transport, and don’t use an Oyster as I get a weekly travelcard between my home and work station for £31.20 which works out cheaper and I have been getting this and travelling the same route for over 6 years now. If someone could please advise me on how to deal with this I would be grateful. Many thanks

    • Hi Debbie,

      It sounds like someone has used your details when stopped. Firstly, don’t panic. I would simply write back and explain that you are not the person who has been stopped. Briefly explain where you work and that you were there at the time, then ask them to confirm that the matter is now closed without a stain on your character.

      The inspector should have taken details of the appearance of the person who was stopped, so if they do try to take it any further it is going to end badly for them. I’m sure you won’t be the first innocent victim of false details and they must have procedures in place to deal with it. As I say, whatever else you do, don’t worry.

  6. Hi Mike,

    Thank you so much for your advice, it’s really appreciated. I am dealing with a lot of financial issues with my mortgage etc. right now and don’t need additional stress at the moment, so this has reassured me a lot. Also, I forgot to mention, the letter was addressed to ‘Dee’ not ‘Debbie’ (Surname correct) and while friends and family abbreviate my name to ‘Dee’, I never use it officially – all official documents and bills are always addressed to ‘Debbie’, so perhaps it was a former friend or acquaintance who happened to know my full address…. Not difficult I guess, as I have lived at the same address for 15 years. Still, I have witnessed people being given penalties on trains and the Inspectors ask for ID so this also baffles me as if someone happened to have i.e. an official letter with my details and used it as proof it would have said ‘Debbie’ on it and not Dee… Anyway, I will follow your advice, my Manager just said she would write a supporting letter stating I was at work. Many thanks again! Debbie

    • Hi Debbie,

      More likely is that whoever gave your address didn’t have any verifiable ID on them, which is not actually against the law. Obviously if you have verification then the train company prefer it, but giving your name and address will have matched the address checks that the TOC make, so they’ll have been none the wiser at the time. If you’ve already spoken to your manager and they are prepared to do a letter (on headed notepaper of course), then include that with your response. It’s not essential, but helps to convince them they’re dealing with mistaken identity as soon as possible.

      Feel free to come back to me if you need to.

  7. I think LU need more money and are just (missing) taking gate info to allow them to take more money of the cards
    in the hope we wont claim it back.
    I have Ocards for weekdays and another for weekends
    to help get more back and quicker

  8. Hey Mike,

    Got a couple of questions. You mentioned that your son had to touch in-out-in at NR gates to avoid a circular journey. What happens if you don’t do that?

    Also I’m wondering what happens if you tap out of a station (though gates) and then tap back in (within ~30 mins). Does this break your journey in two, or is the journey continued? I assume you it breaks your journey, in which case can NR gates be used to get the journey to be continued?

    • Hi Thomas,

      On Oyster, if a journey ends up being here to here (ie same station at each end) then it is charged as two incomplete journeys. This is because the Oyster system only looks at the origin and destination when deciding the final charge. Any via points are encoded separately and are only looked at if the journey has route options. A here to here journey does not have any route options.

      On contactless the charging is worked out at the end of the day and all touches can be taken into consideration. If there is an interchange where the journeys get joined together, contactless will break that to make two valid journeys rather than one invalid circular one.

      Under normal circumstances, touching out and in again at gates will always start a new journey. The only exception is where an emergency OSI has been set up by the Oyster control centre in response to some sort of disruption. In that case re-entry within 30 minutes will continue the journey. This can sometimes have undesirable consequences, but the helpdesk will sort it out if this happens.

  9. Hey Mike,

    Sorry I wasn’t very clear in my last question. I was interested in seeing if it was possible to use NR gates to create journey continuations, allowing you to re-enter the same station without creating a second journey.

    I sounds a bit stupid, but the use case is dropping people off at NR stations. It’s nice to be able to accompany out of the Oyster system, but that would create a second journey. So one method of saving some money (only a tiny bit) is to pass in-out through the NR gates. You incur the NR upgrade fee, but get to continue your journey, this could be particularly useful if you enter the Oyster system just before Peak. But of course you now can’t return to your original station.

    It was something I tried last night at Waterloo (but couldn’t check the results), and it seemed to work :). Saving me the grand total of £0.00 as I had hit my cap…

    • Hmmm. I think I see what you mean now. You need to be very careful about maximum journey times if you use two stations nearby at the other end of your journey. In my opinion it really isn’t worth it. You could end up going through a lot of palava and save nothing, or even end up incurring an incomplete journey and the hassles that will take to resolve.

  10. Just a comment on how much extra money TFL must make on incomplete Js. last year we had a two day stay in London I have an oyster60+ as I live there 3 or 4 day a month but mostly say with my girlfriend in Whitstable anyhow we used my oyster to travel around but on day two my girlfriends oyster stop and wanted more money it had used 50 plus quid on the first day???
    we had to add 10 more pounds to complete that day on returning and looking at the history a day or so latter we had to claim back £45.00 for two day in london and we are stilled owed £10 of that and both of us used the gates where we could.
    So Just how much bonus fares do Tfl get to keep..

    • Well I’d say £50 on one card in one day is pretty extreme. You do realise that if there are no gates you need to use the validators which are usually sited near station entrances.

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