Watch how you touch in to avoid paying your fare twice

A London commuter organisation is warning rail and Tube passengers to avoid using separate smart devices to pay for their journeys – because they risk paying twice.

Watch how you pay: using two different smart devices to pay a TfL fare could see you pay twice

London TravelWatch says that passengers who touch in with their mobile phone and out with their smartwatch at a Transport for London station may be charged the maximum ticket fare twice.

The double charge occurs because while the same bank account is usually registered to the smartphone or watch, they carry separate unique device codes – Permanent Account Numbers. Therefore, the ticket readers think that two separate journeys are “incomplete” as the person using their mobile phone did not touch out while the person with the smartwatch seemingly did not touch in to start their journey.

This could affect double-device users riding the Tube, DLR, London Overground, Elizabeth line and Thames Clipper boat services – although Croydon Tram passengers are probably unaffected because they only have to tap-in before the start of their journey.

Joanna Davidson, CEO for London TravelWatch, said: “We’d like TfL to work with the issuing banks to see if this issue can be resolved in the interests of hard-pressed passengers where every penny really does count right now.

“We don’t think it should matter if the devices being used are different, only that the same registered bank account is paying for the journey.

“We know that once someone works out they have been charged twice due to a ‘mixed-device payment’ issue, requesting a refund is relatively straightforward. But it is not immediately obvious that a double charge has taken place as the ticket gates still open as normal.”

Transport for London encourages passengers to always touch in and out using the same device.

The London TravelWatch casework team has received concerns from passengers, who said that they did not find out about being charged twice for some time, with multiple journeys affected. “Ticket gates open as normal, even if you’ve used multiple devices to complete your journey,” TravelWatch says. “They do not beep to warn passengers there might be an issue.

“In industry speak this issue is called a ‘mixed-device payment’. People either touch in and out on card readers using different devices in error, or because they believe the system will be able to tell it is the same person making the journey. Either way, the result is that they then need to request a refund.”

London TravelWatch is recommending that if you do pay for travel using smart devices you should check your bank statements regularly and keep on top of any of these potential issues so you don’t lose out.

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