Costly Opal Card Errors

I enjoy using Sydney’s new Opal card, I enjoy not having to queue and remember to buy weekly and travel-10 tickets. I especially enjoy the free travel after 8 journeys, especially as it is generally saving me money.

What I’m not enjoying is continually encountering problems using the Opal card. At least once a week I’m encountering buses with readers that aren’t working. And it seems to be getting worse.

In the last two week’s I’ve experienced a bus that I was able to tap onto, but not tap off of – encountering the dreaded default fare. I’ve encountered a bus where the two back door readers weren’t working – sending me on a mad dash to the front of the bus to tap off before the bus drove off.

But the two most annoying issues this week have been overcharging. The first is a tap on and a tap off being recorded as two tap on, encountering two default fares.

Opal Double Charging

The second is being charged $4.70 for a fare from Town Hall to Central (instead of $3.30).

Opal Overcharging

And making the problems even more annoying, the complaint form on opal.com.au times out and loses the message you are sending if you take too long to fill it out.

I’m assuming that many others are experiencing these overcharging issues without even realising it.

2 Replies to “Costly Opal Card Errors”

  1. Baring a reader being dead totally, most of the ‘default fares’ shown on the web site are a failure of the bus to upload it’s data to head quarters and not a real default fare. The web site lies.

    A default fare doesn’t get a journey number, so if the next trip you take skips a journey number the previous default fare shown on the web site is a lie.

    Opal really need to make it clearer that the web site’s travel log is advisory only and may not be accurate if not all data from the field has made it to head quarters.
    It would help if they added logic to detect the missing journey number and use that information to say ‘to ‘unknown’ or ‘missing’ instead of ‘no tap off’ and suppress the ‘Default Fare’ text, as it simply isn’t true.

    There is some automated resolution in the system as if the data is missing for several days they will start putting false top ups in to make the totals balance out.

    In of 6 months of using Opal and now 1200 transactions (mostly trains, but quite a few buses too) I’ve had one problem where I asked Opal for a refund and it was a bus 🙂

    I’ve had bus data delayed by a week and some records appear to have been lost entirely, but i’ve always actually been charged the correct fare. (I look at the screen when I tap off on a bus).

    In my area they seem to gave gotten on top of the bus readers dropping like flies, after a bad patch, I don’t see so many off line readers now. Seems the designers didn’t quite appreciate how rough a Sydney bus can be.

    1. I most definitely got charged twice with the bus tap on/tap off error.

      Additionally the worst thing about default fares is as they don’t count towards the weekly journey cap. So if you encounter them at the start of the week you end up paying more than you should for that week.

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