Since the beginning of July there has been a slight change to the display when you touch in or out. I’m still trying to get full details, but this is what I’ve worked out so far. Whenever you touch in and your balance is below the maximum journey charge the system will display a “Low Balance” warning message. This also happens on touch out. There appears to be account taken of whether you have already capped or are close to doing so, certainly on touch in but possibly also on touch out. If you have auto top-up enabled then it is unlikely that you will see this warning as the top-up will happen before it decides whether to display it.
This isn’t all good news though. If the device displaying the message is a validator, or certain varieties of gateline, then the message will replace the actual balance, and the journey charge if you were touching out. So far I’ve checked various Southeastern gatelines and some tube gatelines, either personally or via my kids using their zip cards. The gates at places like Crayford appear to display both message and balance whilst those at Waterloo East only displayed the message. On the tube it was only the message.
This is clearly not ideal as people may be frightened into checking their balance at a ticket machine when they have enough for the journey(s) they are making that day. Worse is that on touch out they are deprived seeing the deduction which many people like to see to assure themselves that nothing has gone wrong.
On Friday I managed to get a letter printed in The Standard which touched on this issue. It had to be edited from my original submission, but at least it’s got the concern out there.
This post replaces an earlier version where the facts were less clear.