Touch on, Sod off

I was one of the early adopters of Myki for my public transport ticketing, and it wasn’t the best of experiences. I went back to using Metcard shortly afterwards, and it was only once Myki was fully deployed across trams and buses did I go back to it.

I’ve been using the Myki Money approach, which in theory is cheaper than the Myki Pass approach, but requires the user to “touch on” before travel and “touch off” afterwards. I’ve been using it for over six months now, but recently I’ve suspected that it hasn’t been operating quite as it should.

Although I’m well trained now in “touching off” at the train platform, I find it hard to remember to do it when jumping off a tram. In one instance, leaving a tram to catch a train, my Myki failed to be recognised at the train station turnstiles (no error message – nothing), probably due to the card thinking I’d only recently “touched on” to a tram, so how could I possibly be touching on to a train. How helpful. Not.

Failing to “touch off” on trams has also meant that I’ve been charged extra, as the system assumes I might have traveled into Zone 2, while in fact I’ve remained in Zone 1. This is as-designed, but is highly annoying. Given that I don’t catch trams often enough to reprogram my habit of leaving the tram without touching off, it’s probably sufficient to motivate me to stop using Myki Money.

However, there’s another problem I’m experiencing that’s not meant to happen: sometimes, I’m charged more than the official fare. If I travel more than two trips – more than a train to work and then a train home – it seems I get charged for those extra trips, even though Myki Money is not meant to cost more than a standard daily rate (which is equivalent to two trips). All it takes is to use the tram twice on a normal day to be overcharged by 100%.

Luckily, there’s a free online tool that can help spot these overcharges: Mykileaks. It takes your Myki transaction statement, analyses it, and provides you with clear advice on exactly where you’ve been overcharged. The process is:

  1. Log in to “My Myki” and download a PDF statement of “My transactions”. Set the filter options to include as much as the last six months, then press the “View and Print Statement” button.
  2. Visit Mykileaks, specify the file for the PDF statement, and press the “Submit your statement for analysis” button.
  3. Read the resulting report, and confirm that it makes sense.
  4. Go back to “My Myki” and open the Refund and Reimbursement Form. Fill it in, print and post to Myki.

Ok, so it’s a bit laborious, but it really irks me that they still run this system with overcharging bugs in it. Mykileaks found that I had a case for being overcharged $14.66 over the last five months. According to a Herald Sun article, around 300,000 people used Myki in March, which if my level of overcharges is typical, would equate to $10.5M in unjustified charges over the course of a year.

I’m going to send in my reimbursement claim, and once it’s used up, Myki Money can “sod off”.

10 thoughts on “Touch on, Sod off”

  1. A couple of points; first, how is Myki Money cheaper than Myki Pass for a typical 5 days per week-scenario?

    Second, I don’t think the “charge zone 2 if you fail to touch off” works as designed; all trams are now Zone 1, so the system should NOT charge you Zone 1+2 fare even if you fail to touch off on a tram. On a train, sure, but not on a tram.

    I’ve been using the Myki Pass ever since they launched it, and most of the time it works pretty ok. Certainly better than at launch and with the Pass, I don’t even bother touching on or off on trams..

    1. I guess the idea is that, over the long run, Myki Money is cheaper because while it is meant (!) to never be more expensive than a daily Myki Pass, if at any time I travel just once (likely to happen now and then), I will pay less than a daily Myki Pass.

      You may be right about the Zone 1+2 fare, but it may be a little more complicated due to the treatment of the Daily Cap. So, if I am charged $3.02 for the Zone 1 trip into work, then another $3.02 for a non-touched-off tram ride, then another $3.02 for the Zone 1 trip home, that’s a total of $9.06. Then the system looks to see what cap to apply across the day, and because I didn’t touch off on the tram, the Zone 1+2 Daily Cap of $10.20 is the relevant one (rather than the Zone 1 Daily Cap of $6.04). Hence, I’m not eligible for the refund of $3.02 which I would’ve been entitled to if I had touched off.

      At least, this is how the Mykileaks tool treats it (perhaps overly conservatively) and is consistent with the wording on the Myki website of “If charged a default fare this will contribute towards your Daily Cap. A full fare customer who fails to repeatedly touch off and travels across Zones 1 and 2 will never pay more than $10.20 on a weekday.” However, this could be written more clearly.

  2. I agree with Sami (isn’t the internet wonderful – we work within 20 metres of each other and we’re having a conversation on a blog)

    The “Daily Rate” that is used to calculate MyKi Passes is lower than the maximum Daily Fare. It’s $3.70 for Zone 1. Compared to the MyKi Money daily cap of $6.04.

    All the amounts compare to the Metcard rates. The daily cap is equal to 1/5 of a 5xDaily or a 10×2 or a Weekly Metcard. The daily rate for passes is around about 1/30 of a monthly. And for a yearly, they cap it at 325 days, which brings a Zone 1 yearly Pass to about $1200 which is within $0.70 of a Zone 1 yearly metcard which is about 10.5 monthlies (join the PTUA and save 10% more).

    There’s no way MyKi Money is even remotely comparable to MyKi Pass for a regular traveller. If you don’t like the idea of a yearly, I’d suggest the 33-day pass. Minimises paying for weekends you don’t use (assuming you start it on a Monday). Adjust to suit.

    On the Tram issue. There’s something wrong there, for sure. They extended Zone 1 around the Mont Albert and Box Hill tram routes so all trams are now in Zone 1. They did that specifically because that recognised that Touching Off on a Tram can’t work. You do NOT have to touch off on a tram. Since you can’t get to Zone 2, there shouldn’t be a default fare.

    BUT your use case seems to have found a hole in their system. Where not touching off on the Tram results in something weird happening for you on your trip home.

    You should contact them – put in a complaint form. They get back to you every time. There’s a fault there that needs fixing.

    That said, I do what you describe at least once a week and I never touch off on the Tram. And I get into Parliament in the evening with no problem. I don’t face the charging problem you’ve found because of my Pass. Maybe I also don’t find the “can’t touch on” problem for the same reason.

  3. Hello!

    I came across your blog and would like to offer a few helpful suggestions. There’s a couple of pieces of information that aren’t quite right.

    myki money
    myki money is best for irregular travellers whose travel patterns are varied and subject to change. It’s unclear how often you travel, but you may like to do a comparison of myki money to myki pass to ensure you’re getting the best value. As a rough guide, if you’re taking at least five daily trips per week, myki pass works out to be cheaper. You can do this here:

    Touching off on trams
    If you don’t touch off on a tram, you’ll be charged a default fare equal to a Zone 1, 2hr fare (not a Zone 1+2, 2hr fare). myki users who travel on trams in Zone 1 don’t need to touch off because the default fare is the same as the fare they would have paid. However, it’s important to note that a default fare will not be applied until the next time you touch on (which could be that afternoon, the following day, next week etc). This fare applies to your previous trip (where you did not touch off) and contributes to the daily cap for that day. It is usually on these occasions that it may appear like you have paid more than the daily fare for your current day’s travel.

    Incorrect Charges
    With regards to the mykileaks website, there is evidence to suggest that the scan treats default fares as overcharges, and incorrectly implies that you may be owed money for receiving a default fare. A default fare in many instances – especially on trams – is the fare you would normally pay.

    If you believe you have been charged incorrectly, I strongly suggest you contact the myki call centre (their number is 13 6954). They can review your transaction history and answer any questions you have about the system.

    Good Luck!

    ~ Jackie

    1. Thanks Jackie. I gave the number you provided a call and they were helpful. They agreed that my Myki has not been operating properly and promised that Customer Service would contact me next week,

  4. I found another very useful behaviour this morning.

    I don’t touch off when I get home at night. While, this seems weird – how do they know I got off in Zone 1 (for which I have a pass) and didn’t travel into Zone 2 (for which I should be charged Money)? But, the fare manual says that if you have a MyKi Pass and you touch on in a zone for which that pass is valid (Parliament in my case) then there is no default fair.

    So, every morning when I touch on, it tells me “deducting fare for previous trip”. Which is $0.00. Cool.

    This morning I forgot to touch on – some power issues on our line, got to chatting with the Station Hosts, just forgot. When I got to Parliament, I fully expected the gates to deny me egress and I’d have to do the silly thing where you act exasperated and they just wave you through the end gate even though you’re holding nothing but a wallet in your hand (MyKi works while in the wallet).

    BUT, it let me through. Seems that it’s happy enough that I started a trip (at Parliament) last night, spent 16 hours travelling and ended my trip back where I started. So it let me out – basically a touch off of the trip home last night.

    Bizarre. But useful.

  5. The latest problem is that I bought a Myki Pass and the system is not letting me use it. Perhaps it’s because I touched on using Myki Money and then bought the Pass. However, now whenever I use the card, the system decides I am using Myki Money and I go into negative balance when I complete the journey. Topping up my balance so it is (just) positive only allows the same problem to happen again. And again. *sigh*

  6. I must say I find the Myki system far too complicated. My thoughts were that it would eventually be a number of stations type arrangement, with each station costing say 10c. Everyone would be forced to touch on and touch off. Perhaps when they switch off metcard and I’m forced to use myki it will become easier, but as a late adopter by nature, happy where I am thanks!

  7. Myki doesn’t pass the predictable bill test. Over a month of using it, not long after the launch, I noticed it deducted different accounts for my routine zone 1 only trips.

    I also noticed Myki penalised me (randomly) for forgeting to touch off. Which sometimes set in train (no pun intended) Andrew’s negative balance problem.

    Reading the news about the project, it’s clear they were up against a hard launch date. When that happens, testing cycles get shorter and shorter, and proper testing suffers. Waiting till some of the basic use cases were sorted would have ensured a higher quality system.

    But proper software testing wouldn’t have helped for my next problem, which might be particular to my station. I often have to wait 3-5 minutes to avoid moving against the human waves coming off peak hour services in order to get to the Myki machine to touch off. (sigh) I could change my carriage, but that problem would exist for anyone in the first 3 carriages due to where the trains pull up. The train drivers would have to pull up short to fix that. Or they could just add several new Myki touch off machines right at the end of the platform near where everyone leaves.

    In short, I’m still using Metcards because they are predictable, they work as they should, and they are convenient, requiring only one action from me as I begin the trip.

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