Transport for London is paying out thousands in equipment collision refunds after overcharging passengers

Transport for London (TfL) has refunded thousands of pounds to passengers in the capital who were charged due to equipment collisions.

TfL data showed that between June 12 and June 26, 2023, £8,369.25 was refunded in 609 cases, the equivalent of £217,594 over the year. Passenger watchdog TravelWatch warned that these refunds could be the “tip of the iceberg”.

Device collisions occur when customers use one device to connect to a station at the beginning of their trip and another device on the way out. TfL systems are unable to recognize that transactions belong to the same customer.

Paul Harper, who discovered the data after submitting a disclosure request, said: ‘I was astonished at how much money had been withdrawn from my bank in such a short period of time. One journey from Watford to London and back costs £42, which is absurd.

“To be honest, TfL refunded me very quickly within a week. However, it made me wonder how many other passengers were overcharged without knowing it, especially those coming into the city for a day or weekend, which are probably considered expensive trips.”

TfL says TravelWatch’s estimated refunds are less than 0.001 per cent of the approximately £3 billion in total annual ticket revenue correctly collected through pay-as-you-go and contactless payments.

He added that he would always be happy to investigate and refund money if possible, and said he would also “attempt to automatically adjust non-contact travel where possible based on previous travel patterns.”

Michael Roberts, chief executive of London TravelWatch, said: “TfL’s level of refunds is surprising but may represent the tip of the iceberg as it does not reflect the impact of device collisions on passengers who simply do not realize they have paid beyond the odds.

“We need TfL, banks and tech companies to redouble their efforts to find a lasting solution to this problem, and in the meantime do more to advise people to use just one device.

“Until then, we encourage people paying for their travel using smart devices to check their bank statements regularly to ensure they don’t miss out.”