We have changed multiple terms relating to:
- the reasons for which we will cancel a card,
- the length of time before a card “expires” changing from two years to six
- terms relating to the Areas of Liability to be more easily understood by customers
- the overall wording of the terms have been made clearer
- formalised the timeframes for notifying the public of fare changes
The intent was to make the terms more customer friendly and simpler.
AT have now updated the website with these details (although it’s right at the bottom of the page). Hopefully they think to add this from the start next time.
While we’re on the topic of HOP, there have been a few articles in the last few days about the issue of online top up money expiring if you haven’t tagged on within 60 days of the transaction. The articles make out that AT are effectively stealing money from customer. Here’s what AT have to say about it.
“When you complete a transaction online, an action is added to the system which requires the HOP card to be tagged on before the action can be completed, which is when the balance is officially loaded on to the card,” AT’s James Ireland said. “Several times a day the new actions get added to the list, which is stored in every tagging machine.
“The main reason for the 60 day tag on limit is to ensure the amount of data held does not cause the tagging system to slow down, as it has to search the database when each card is tagged on.
“Between May 2016 and April 2017 $342,000 worth of transactions expired due to not being used within the 60 day period,” Ireland said.
That didn’t reflect the amount kept by AT, as it also included money “reinstated” when people complained.
“If someone does not tag on within 60 days, they can call us and we will reinstate the money.”
This is pretty inconvenient for customers, especially those who are not regulars and therefore might be put off using PT. However, at the same time it seems like it’s one of those tricky issues that will have bad outcomes either way. As ATs suggest, and this post points out, without this process the tagging machines would need to store and sort through a lot more data and that would make journeys slower for a lot more people.
A typical HOP transaction takes around 350ms to occur – in this time the card is read, the database queried to see if the card is valid or blocked, the top up database is checked to see if a top up balance needs to be applied to the card, and lastly the new balance is written back to the card. Every step of this process takes time, and time is critical. If transaction times were doubled to 700ms for example it would cause considerable delays to the tag on process and would create significant delays for people boarding their bus.
As it is I think we need to be looking at ways to further improve boarding times on busy routes with features such as off board ticketing and tag on/off. It’s just imperative that AT make the process for recovering any funds easy. It would also help if made it clear when topping up online that you need to tag on. Further, since you have to have a registered account to top up online, perhaps AT could have some sort of communication process for those who are nearing their top up expiring to go and use the card.
Finally, to put the $342k affected into perspective, AT have over $17 million in HOP balances in their account to the end of July (the unsettled relates to the introduction of Simplified Fares last year.