How to dispute charges (if TfL decide against you)

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This topic contains 24 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Loshu 2 years ago.

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  • #74893


    I use the Boris bike exclusively to ride from the station to work in the morning and evening, a journey of usually less than 10 minutes. I do the journey almost every day twice a day.

    I currently have a £50 charge on my account for having the bike all night, turns out in fact I have two on the account (only one showing up) on the 2nd and 19th of September.

    My key didn’t work this morning so I suspect I’ve incurred another last night.

    After both occasions thus far logged the “End location” the following morning is a docking station miles from either the station or my work that I have never used.

    I do remember a few times when I’ve docked a bike and the green light did not light (once was last night), However I have always checked the bike was thoroughly locked in when this happened. . . what are you meant to do anyway!? There’s no way of knowing in advance the dock is screwy and once it’s locked, it’s locked.

    Anyway to cut to the chase, Tfl are currently investigating and I hope they find in my favor, however if they don’t I have absolutely no intention of paying out for a charge I know for a fact I shouldn’t have incurred.

    What the best action to take should they rule against me?



    Replying to Bishop149post:

    I suggest you first read the thread “Late £150.00” last updated 1 week ago

    and “BrianFWombat’s” post of his problem and eventual solution.

    As he did, also consider sending an email summary to [email protected](Transport Leader on the GLA and a cycle hire member)and copy [email protected](also GLA) who are monitoring ongoing problems for a committee review on the scheme in October

    And from hereon,if you have time, you might consider requesting a journey record each time you dock or look at your “activity log” regularly. Both are more readily available recently. At least then you will have absolute proof of termination.

    Note: TFL issued a “critical improvement plan” to Serco in May to be delivered at the end of July. Your problem, which others seem to have experienced recently and I saw happen at Waterloo a week ago(whilst docking – grinding sound from point, then green then suddenly red light – luckily Serco at hand to assist the guy),I’m guessing should have been included in the above plan. I have sent a freedom of information request to obtain details of the deliverable and any outstanding issues.

    Good Luck



    Definitely worth reading the “Late £150.00″ thread…

    >>> requesting a journey record each time you dock

    This definitely doesn’t work as a plan since journey records are often either unavailable or are out of date.

    IMHO there is no way to currently protect yourself from Serco’s system/billing failures. The only way through the situation is to call (£££), esclate (to reactive team) and keep calling… and calling…

    Definitely cc: [email protected] and/or [email protected]

    I don’t think TFL understand how widespread these problems are. Within my immediate co-workers there are 4 regular BCH users. One is currently wrangling over a £150 charge and another is wrangling over a £50 charge!





    It should be possible for the system to send you a text message when a bike has been docked, so the absence of a text may alert you to the fact there is a problem, before it becomes a £50 problem. However, this is too simple.

    (It should also be possible to send the bike number by text with a description of the any problem that may not be immediately obvious. This also is too simple. :-)



    The system should only give a green light once it has safely stored the dock record.

    It clearly doesn’t behave like this currently.

    The words ‘design feature’ and ‘fit for purpose’ come to mind.



    I’m going to pre-cursor this mini-rant with the statement “I’m very PRO consumer & actually used to work for one of the consumer protection agencies”.


    When are people going to start taking responsibility for their actions? This is a wider social issue, but I’ll stick to Boris Bikes for now.

    There is a sticker on the handlebars of 99.9% of the bikes stating that when you re-dock you must wait for a green light. What happens if you don’t get one? Simple – phone the call centre! It’s what they’re there for. DON’T just walk away & then bitch and moan about getting charged for not docking the bike. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BIKE UNTIL YOU RE-DOCK IT & GET A GREEN LIGHT

    Yes, we know the system isn’t perfect, but it is what it is & we must work WITH it rather than against it. In an ideal world we’d all get green lights immediately on un-docking & re-docking. It isn’t & we don’t. We all know this & continue to use the system so must therefore be prepared to be slightly flexible in our usage.

    Yes, you should definitely challenge an unfair overcharge, but give TfL/Serco a chance to sort it out rather than running to Val Shawcross & Caroline Pigeon. If you’re overcharged in Tesco, do you immediately contact the chairman, or do you speak to Customer Services & then the store manager if necessary?

    There’s a contact/complaints form on the website. Has anyone used it? Considering you’d be complaining about a Serco service/process, I’d strongly suspect that complaints go direct to TfL so they have visibility of the problem. Let THEM look at it before you escalate to the GLA. Do you really think they would’ve put a scheme this large in place without defining a complaints procedure?

    @radii8 – As I’ve said before when you’ve suggested tech changes, don’t just say “xyz should be done, it’s a piece of piss”, contact TfL, show them how it can be done for zero capital investment and actually give something back rather than saying “the system is shit”.

    …and breathe!

    Apologies if anyone feels slighted (particularly radii8), but I’m fed up with people moaning and saying it’s everybody else’s fault but their own.



    Replying to 7209 post:

    I think it is a great scheme and that the bikes themselves are brilliant and as a 65 year old state pensioner they have given me a lot of pleasure – over 500 trips and counting. And I passionately want it to work efficiently. But as we all know it has been beset by software problems which have resulted in frustration and overcharging and the scheme being unreliable for all users. And as a consequence of this TFL issuing Serco with a “critical improvement plan” and withholding a five million payment to them.

    I fully agree that the green light responsibility is the users, however having said that there still appears to remain a bug even when obtaining a green light and seemingly triggered by the docking station itself going off line. However the problem with the journey record and activity log functions appears to have been resolved and these now work in real time and are therefore proof of docking correctly.

    Part of the problem in my opinion is TFL’s lack of communication and that the complaints procedure is not working very well.

    My experience over the past few months is that the Help Desk line is experiencing high volumes, asks numerous questions before you can speak to someone, then agents can be abrupt and disinterested and apparently don’t all have the on screen facilities to deal with many of the problems. And do not always phone back when promising to do so. I am always polite.

    Having observed user activity at a lot of high usage stations, I believe a lot of phoned problems stem from casual users who can’t understand the convoluted payment process and thus take up valuable time with explanations. Meaning others cannot get through and get frustrated and complaints pile up.

    I have also used the TFL web site many times for enquiries and complaints, but found on several occasions over the last year including a week ago (4 days consecutively) that it is not working! When it does an automatic e-mail acknowledgement is generated. Sadly weeks can pass by before you receive a reply and then if you are lucky. EG I have e-mailed 7 times since February about Broadwick Street docking station not having a name plate despite being opened over a year ago. Only two replies received back, both stating that the department concerned is dealing with it – no subsequent feedback as to when it is likely to be actioned – and it still remains without a name

    I accept this is a minor complaint but frustrating and unprofessional – I feel that overcharges are being similarly dealt with and of course are of greater concern. Although in fairness I have to add that over the last two weeks the response time has greatly improved.

    You must also remember that the London taxpayer, in the main, pays for this scheme, TFL and the GLA, who themselves have scrutiny powers over the running of London, including transport. So I think when things go wrong and TFL are not communicating with their customers (members and casuals) in a professional manner that we have every right to make this known to those responsible for scrutiny, especially costly overcharges due to software problems.


    What happens if you don’t get one? Simple – phone the call centre!

    That may well be the best thing to do, but its an extremely time consuming solution, especially on a system that is primarily designed to be quick and easy to use.

    There is already quite a nice quick mechanism to report a bike as faulty (although I fear its a little open to abuse) why not a similar system to report a dock as faulty?

    I’m sorry perhaps I was a little naive but the few times the green light failed to show up but the bike was confirmed as securely locked I (probably incorrectly) assumed the most likely failure mode was that the LED had broken, rather than an deeper endemic software flaw.

    Its also worth mentioning that the opposite has happened much more frequently (couple of time a week), dock has released a bike without showing a green light. . . flashing orange, unlock, no green. . . . once again I though “green LED’s knackered”.

    Anyway I return to my idea that it would be pretty easy to have a system by which every time something odd happened you simply pressed a button to report it rather than spending 30 minutes + on the phone to TfL



    Replying to @Ruzzi‘s post:

    There are 3 options on the “Contact Us” form:

    - Enquiries

    - Complaints

    - Others

    I’d be willing to wager that the Enquiries and Others emails go to Serco and the Complaints emails go to TfL so the right people get to see the message sooner.

    Broadwick Street’s name plate? Yes, I agree it must look unprofessional, but in the grand scheme of things, the people responsible for replacing this are most likely to be the ones tied-up with expanding the scheme & installing new docks. Which would you prefer?

    The Department for Transport gives the GLA the money for TfL (£2.8Bn this year), which is then handed over. So saying it’s only Londoners paying is misleading. I DO, however, agree that oversight scrutiny needs to be maintained.

    Replying to @Bishop149‘s post:

    Yes, phoning the call centre may be time consuming, but whilst I’m liable for a £300 charge (for a “lost” bike), I’m going to call them!

    “Faulty Dock” button:

    1: How is the button going to be added to 10,000 docking points?

    2: If the bike hasn’t re-docked properly, how can you hi-light a problem when the system doesn’t even recognise there’s a bike there?

    3: What would the button do? Lock the dock? Flag-up to the system that there may be a problem, but still release the bike (that’s in perfectly good working order) to the next user?



    You wander away and what do you find…


    The whole point here is that there is compelling evidence of those being charged for non-return AFTER getting a GREEN light.

    I.e. There is no way for a consumer to determine if they will be charged after return since obtaining a GREEN light is no guarantee that the record of their returning the bike will make it through the maze of twisty passages back to the central brain and acknowledge the bicycle has been returned. The default behaviour, after 24hrs, is to assume that the absence of a dock record implies late return and a fine is issued after 24hrs.

    IMHO Debunking the myth that all charges are the result of a failure of the user to dock correctly and/or doesn’t wait for a GREEN light seems worth the effort of escalating to somewhere it will not fall on deaf ears.



    You wander away and what do you find…

    >>> people not reading the original post that says:

    I do remember a few times when I’ve docked a bike and the green light did not light (once was last night), However I have always checked the bike was thoroughly locked in when this happened. . . what are you meant to do anyway!?

    The original poster admits to not having got a green light.



    :o )

    Good point.



    Replying to @7209′s post:

    Just for the record, the complaint one does not work, which is kind of funny.



    . After a lot of writing to the enquiries team and to the emails provided on this list, I got a refund. Essentially I re-stated the facts that I told them on the phone, and also let them know about how frustrating my story was (you can check it on the thread on Parkway horror stories) and they did solve the issue. The response was professional and to be fair timely, and this is consistent with similar feedback on this list. Yet I feel this docks issues should be revisited by TFL, as many of us are experiencing the same. This bike scheme is a good idea, but yet needs to improve implementation.



    Replying to @7209′s post:

    for a 1st time user ive used it once and didnt know how to dock or if a docking is working or not. now i have to wait near 40+ days for them to look into it. this is so frustrating. its great idea just need to put signs up on how to?? no1 reads them terms&Con when ur paying.

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