Anyone who's set foot in the bubbling cauldron of London's transport network since 16 September 2014 will have encountered the change-busting revolution that is contactless payment.
Posters, pamphlets and voice announcements have long heralded the benefits of the new technology, that incorporates the near field communication (NFC) capacity of modern bank debit cards to do away with topping up Oyster cards or tedious exchange of cash for a paper ticket. By tapping your NFC bank card "in" at the beginning of a journey, and "out" upon reaching your destination, your bank balance is charged for your fare - a process that's cheaper for Transport for London (TfL) to operate, and has the potential to save passengers money with maximum fare caps.
However, the new system also has the potential to make TfL a whole heap of cash. Around £8.374 million of it - collected between the introduction of the contactless system in September 2014 and May 2015.
Discovered after passenger Ben Schofield put in a freedom of information to TfL, the newly released statistics show that of the 58 million journeys paid for using the new technology between September and May, 1.38 million were classed as "incomplete" - with travellers being charged the full fare when they fail to tap out. Of the resulting £8.374 million collected by TfL in excess charges, only a third had been reclaimed by passengers, leaving £5.776 million in TfL's accounts.
TfL is by no means looking to exploit the contactless system to collect more money from its service users - you can easily reclaim money charged for an "incomplete" journey by visiting this section of their website, entering information on your journey and allowing TfL to work out if you missed tapping out.
A further £2 million has been collected as a result of "card clash" - when one card is registered at the start of a journey, and a second on reaching the destination - but all of these charges have been refunded.
Lauren Sager Weinstein, head of analytics at TfL, told the Evening Standard: "Just 2.4 per cent of journeys using contactless are incomplete, similar to Oyster, and we work hard to remind customers to touch in and out.
"We know some customers sometimes make honest mistakes and miss touching out at the end of their journeys. We use their journey history to try and work out their likely destination and automatically refund them the difference between their actual journey fare and the maximum fare. Customers can also can use their TfL online account to get a refund or contact our customer services team."
[Via: Evening Standard]