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Contactless Card Not Authorised For Travel

Contactless Card

Contactless Card

We like TfL’s Contactless Payment System (we were there at the launch) and since day one it has worked flawlessly for us.

Until now, where we’ve uncovered a seemingly unfixable (by TfL’s technical team anyway) flaw in the whole system.

This Station Master changed banks recently and with it came a new set of cards, which were dutifully added to TfL’s online portal and all was fine.

However, when (for reasons-that-aren’t-important-to-this-story) one of the cards was replaced with a card with an identical 16-digit card number (known as the “PAN”) but with a different expiry date, things started to unravel.

While the new card was (delayed) in the post, TfL were not able to authorise a payment and marked the card as “Unable to travel” adding it to what they seem to refer as the “CNAFT” (Card Not Authorised for Travel) list.

With the new card in hand this Station Master paid off his travel and as instructed by TfL staff added the new card (same PAN, new expiry date) online (as they can’t update expiry dates).

CIrLmdvXAAA9_RU.jpg-large Here’s where the major flaw in TfL’s system shows up. The CNAFT seems to work ONLY on the card’s PAN and not the expiry date. So, while we have a valid card on the system, the “Unable to travel” card with the same PAN is being placed on TfL’s block list.  This results in our valid-everywhere-else contactless payment card being refused for travel.

We’ve spent many hours on the phone with TfL’s frontline contactless guys, who to be fair to them and to their credit do understand the problem perfectly, but don’t have the ability to remove cards from the system.

Their technical people also claim they cannot remove cards from the system and the solution is to “get a new card number” which quite frankly is not an acceptable solution.

Our latest series of telephone calls to TfL this week has resulted in an acknowledgement that they need to come up with a solution to this, but none has been forthcoming, and our account is in the state shown above.

Whilst writing this blog post we received a call from Shashi Verma’s office, who explained that TfL were misled by the banks who had told them they would never issue cards with identical PANs and that they had fixed the Tube readers with a software update to read the expiry date and that they were still working on a solution for the bus readers (with no known date for a fix).

That of course doesn’t help us when travelling on the bus to get to the Tube!  So we’ve sent them away asking again why can’t they remove cards from the online system, which would seem the logical solution to our problem…

The response to which came back that the technical team are (grudgingly) going to (we have to say “attempt to” given their efforts so far) remove the problematic card from our account, but we are told this could take up until the close of play on Wednesday (15th July).  Thanks. That doesn’t help us in the meantime however…