What can go wrong with top up?

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    Chris Hein

    So this morning at 1008 I went on the TfL app and topped up my other halfs Oyster card by £10 as she only had £1.55 on it. Got confirmation to pick up within the set amount of days and that it would be available after 30 minutes by tapping on a reader.

    Just after midday she goes and gets on a bus and instead of topping up it’s taken £1.65 and said emergency fare – despite being way over the 30 minutes.

    So now concerned she has a negative balance on her card she calls me and I call TfL who tell me that their live system shows she hasn’t made a journey yet and the top up is awaiting collection!

    She’s in Dartford for a few hours now but is worried that she won’t be able to get back on her Oyster.

    What would possibly cause this sort of thing to happen. TfL tell me there’s no issue with the app.
    Can a faulty reader on the bus not detect an available top up for example?

    She’s now petrified of the oyster saying no on the return journey so I’m now having to take time off work to go down to Dartford! Not particularly impressed but at least it’s a good excuse to go out in the sun!!


    Hi Chris,

    It probably is a faulty bus reader or computer which hasn’t picked up the latest FUL list. If she’s coming back on the bus then for simplicity I’d add whatever was needed to make a zero balance at a shop. There are several in Dartford. If she decided to take the train then I’ll pretty much guarantee that the top up will be there and will be collected before any deduction is made.

    Chris Hein

    That’s my plan to just go there and top it up manually at a shop. It was an Arriva 428 bus she got first of all so nothing would surprise me if it was faulty lol

    Chris Hein

    Thought I’d feedback what happened in the end.
    So I used the app to top up my wife’s Oyster card by £10 at 1008.
    I can now see the journey history online which shows that two hours later at 1208 she boarded a 428 bus but the top up did not go on and took her to a -10p balance so an emergency fare was indeed charged.

    Fortunately, the top up went on when I was there on the return journey at 1508.

    So it seems that sometimes it can be more than two hours for a top up to go on. Lesson for me in the future is to top up the night before to make sure!!!

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