Brilliant as Transport for London’s Oyster card system is, it is not perfect. Using the TFL website to monitor and manage your Oyster account will show up any problems with overcharging and allow you to complain and get a refund. It also allows setting up an auto top-up service which means you never have to top up due to “seek assistance” messages on the barriers. To use this service visit the official TFL Oyster website where you can sign up for an online account or log in to an existing one. Due to various ticket barrier issues, it is common to be charged for additional journeys or be charged a higher amount due to a journey being logged as incomplete.
Using this site will allow you to see if this has happened and resolve the problem. Unfortunately, it is still time-consuming to complain about being overcharged, and TFL staff seem to have the attitude they are doing you a favour by giving you a refund. There is a facility to get a weekly travel statement emailed to you, which will show when mistakes have happened which is very useful as most of us have got better things to do than continually check.
There is now an iPhone app which allows users to do this on the go. This is a great ideal and makes users more likely to manage their accounts actively. Even with good connectivity the app currently seems a bit unreliable and slow compared to using the website, but hopefully, this will improve.
No doubt TFL make a considerable amount of money from accidentally charging additional journeys and probably don’t want to lose that revenue, but at least they have given us some tools to see when it happens and get a refund.
In September 2013 TFL released an updated smartphone App. This app requires a payment of £1.49 to enable it to apply for refunds. Bearing in mind a high proportion of overcharging is due to issues with the TFL system it seems immoral that TFL should charge for the mechanism to reclaim your money. Also, TFL should consider the cost of answering the phone to the extra people who will now call their helpline.
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