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Unregulated Dublin Bus gets away with not refunding overcharged customers

dublin_bus_logo_imageDid you know that if you make a complaint to Dublin Bus about any part of their service that your final line of escalation is to their Operations Manager? As an unregulated entity, they literally are a law unto themselves.

That is why they get away with overcharging some of their customers who use Leap Card, but ARE NOT obliged to repay them the amount overcharged unless the customer themselves discover the overcharge themselves – and then, only if the customer calls into the Dublin Bus offices on O’Connell Street.

It’s not likely that many consumers who are using the Leap Card will be aware even of this overcharging – I haven’t seen any media coverage. There is this notification on the Dublin Bus website, and NOTHING on the Leap Card website.

So, as a Dublin Bus user using a Leap Card – you may have been overcharged, but we’re not telling you, and if you do happen to find out, and you discover that you were, you’ll have to come in and see us on O’Connell Street.

I’m sometimes dubious about the benefits of regulation as implemented here in Ireland, but can you imagine the uproar if a bank, or a mobile phone company, or an energy company, overcharged their customers and tried to get away with the same thing?

leap_card_logo_imageIt’s not like it’s all that hard for Dublin Bus to find out who they’ve overcharged in order to automatically refund them. This is what I’ve asked Dublin Bus:

I would like to follow up on the charging revealed recently on your website – . Could you please review this and pass on to whomever is best placed to follow up and respond?

I would like to inquire whether it would be possible for you to automatically refund your customers using Leap Cards rather than leaving it up to them to check through their own accounts and requesting a refund from you by having to call into your office on O’Connell Street.

While I appreciate that it’s the responsibility of the customer to check their own accounts and bills, that I can see you have not publicised this overcharging issue in any way other than on your website, so it’s likely that many Leap Card users won’t have seen the notification of the overcharging.

I understand that the overcharging was resolved through a software update. May I suggest that it’s a similarly easy matter to use some software queries within your computer applications to identify which fares were overcharged to customers, and then refund them automatically?

If I log on to my account on the Leap Card website, I can view all of the transactional information that you have provided that website for my Dublin Bus usage on my card. So, I can see that on one morning I was charged €1.70 for one journey (instead of the €1.90 fare) and on the way home that evening I was charged the €1.25 fare (rather than the €1.65 normal fare).

It is convenient that the prices charged as so easily identifiable as being either a normal rate charged (€1.90/€1.65) or a Leap Card rate charged (€1.70/€1.25). As you request of your customers, they will see this information when they review their transactions on the Leap Card website.

However, I also presume therefore, that since all this data is available in your system to provide to the Leap Card website (and therefore without any data protection considerations), it wouldn’t take too much effort on the part of Dublin Bus to analyse this information separately to identify which customers have been charged €1.90, or €1.65 instead of €1.70 or €1.25.

Surely it would be a very easy effort on your part to provide an improved customer service experience by compiling this information on their behalf, and automatically repaying the overcharging amount rather than keeping their money until they come looking for it.

In any regulated business where a similar matter of overcharging is discovered, as we’ve seen in telecoms, energy providers or financial providers, this suggested automated refunding would be the minimum expected.

Could you please investigate the possibility of making this automated refund to your customers, and let me know the results of this investigation?

Let’s see what they say.

4 comments On Unregulated Dublin Bus gets away with not refunding overcharged customers

  • 1. DB cannot see the transaction in any of “their system”.
    2. When will you finally relise that the money is stored ON THE CARD not on some “account” so it can only be refunded when you go to DB office WITH YOUR CARD.
    3. There’s no posibility of any “automated” refund.
    4. It’s reality, not MAGIC, it won’t bend to wishes of some moaners
    5. If you don’t don’t check and don’t care what you pay why would they?

  • Belatedly, this was the (probably expected, and useless) response back on my query:

    Unfortunately at the moment we do not have the facility to refund your money directly to your leap card. We are working in conjunction with the National Transport Authority to upgrade the system so that we will have the facility to refund your Leap Card remotely.

    If you could please forward a copy of your Leap Card print out and your postal address for the attention of Catherine Darby. I can then send out tickets to reimburse your over charge.

    We are continually reviewing and improving the implementation of this new integrated ticketing system and we are delighted with our customer feedback to date which will assist us in this process.
    Our apologies to you on this occasion for the inconvenience this has caused you, your email has also been forwarded to our Technology Department for their review.
    Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

    To the “Voice of Reason”, the fact that the system won’t “bend to the wishes of moaners” just shows how badly designed this system was in the first place.

    The fact that you have all the details on why it won’t work just shows that you know about about how it probably could, and should, have been made work in the first place.

    That’s where I have the problem.

    We shouldn’t have to suffer the poor design and implementation of an expensive and long undertaken project like this.

  • Yeah, just came across this again…

    We have three things here:

    – Limitations of the current smart card technology:
    Can’t do much about these. It is what it is (an offline system) while people continue to ASSUME it works like a mobile phone (online) or a credit card (linked to an external account).

    – The way it has been designed and managed by the NTA/RPA:
    The whole thing is a big patchwork incompetently put together without anybody there looking at it from the customers’ perspective with essential features like the journey refunds (and please don’t even ask about CARD refunds) that yet have to be implemented (after OVER A YEAR).

    – The way it has been implemented and managed by transport operators (mainly DB and Irish Rail) and recently Student Travel Card operator. Basically they don’t care. For example: IR equipment often does not work and IR staff give wrong advice to the customers (which results with them being overcharged even more), shop assistants in Payzone points get confused if you go and tell them you want to collect online top-up.

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