I have a Boris Bike key, it doesn’t work, and I want it to work. Should be easy to sort out – shouldn’t it?
I only use the Bike scheme occasionally – mainly to replace walking when in the West End, which I haven’t been doing recently. So, about two months ago, I went to get a bike, and was told my key was invalid.
Get home, check online.
Can’t log in, password rejected. Get new password, can’t change to my preferred (and perfectly valid) password, but struggle through the system anyway, and there is a £4 debit waiting on my account, and it looked like they had my old card details, which had expired. Ah ha!
Can’t update credit card details – there are problems, try later. So I did, several times. Eventually I fired off an email to customer care asking why I couldn’t update my details.
Two weeks later – a reply, please phone us.
I don’t actually like using phones as I struggle to hear through them, which is why I wrote an email in the first place.
A phone call, they’ll call me back. Miss me, can I call them, then they’ll call me back. This went on for a while, but eventually my credit card details are updated.
But the key still wont work.
I use my credit card as a “casual user” and it works fine.
I log on to the website and try to buy a credit for my key online – and again the same credit card problem message appears.
So I phone them.
Here I am given the most bizarre explanation ever conceived by a bureaucracy as to the problem.
If I don’t use the key for more than a month, then it is disabled and the way to re-enable it isn’t to select a simple option on the website or just use it again. No! I must insert the key into the bike reader and print out a copy of my last journey. That highly obvious solution will re-enable my key.
But only if there is enough paper in the machine to print a receipt.
And it didn’t work. But hang-on, I used my other credit card to buy a casual user allowance, and it printed out receipts.
Ahh, the lady tells me, the machine has different rolls of paper inside for different receipts.
Well, as there is only one slot for the paper slip to exit the machine by, there must be some mechanical system inside the blue bike tower that shuffles the rolls of till roll around based on the type of transaction being carried out.
Do you believe that – because I certainly don’t.
Nonetheless, I did go back to some bike stands this lunchtime and tried again – in three different locations.
I was as shocked as you will be to realise that none of the bike stands would authorise my key – each replying that it was invalid.
Add some more credit to my prepay phone, and another phone call – and got the same instructions again. No, it doesn’t work!
The lady has now decided my key is not invalid, but faulty and will send me another key in the post – next week.
Somehow, I am just not convinced that is the solution to the problem, but I shall wait and see.
My key issues:
Why is my password not a valid one?
It contains “upper and lower case letters and at least one number”, so should work fine. It would seem, based on some testing that I cannot reuse an old password that I once used. Which means they are keeping a log of all my old passwords, which is not a particularly good idea.
Would help if the error messages said that though.
Why does it take two weeks to reply to an email?
I shortened the sequence a bit, but in fact I sent three emails over a period of time, one was ignored and the other two took a fortnight to get a reply. Yes, I can phone them, but I struggle with phones, so prefer text.
To me, a customer query should be treated with equal importance regardless of the method of communication. In fact, it is arguable that treating written communication slower than verbal might be discriminatory against deaf people. Oh dear!
Why can’t I update my credit card details online?
OK, I accept a temporary glitch might cause it to wobble for an hour or so, but a whole month?
Why wasn’t I told about the expired credit card/key?
Here comes to the crux of the problem. Accepting all the difficulties above, why wasn’t I told there was a problem with my credit card expiring, or that my key was about to be disabled? They have my email address (tfl emails are whitelisted by my spam filter), and my phone number, and my address.
I am not hiding from them or ignoring dozens of letters, emails and phone calls.
For all the problems experienced trying to sort out this mess, the failure to warn me of a problem in advance and have a simple procedure to fix it is the real failing here.
Please let me give you my money so that I can use the bikes again.
I really need this sorted by next weekend though – which is why I am starting to get a bit stressed.
addendum: I tried opening a new account and buying a new key, but it wouldn’t let me. Rats!
In fairness, the new key works – admittedly, it also took two phone calls and a manual credit card transaction to get the new key activated though. I am still fairly sure it wasn’t a key fault, but an admin problem due to the debit on my account.
Also, emailed a letter of complaint on the 3rd August and got an auto-response promising a reply within 5 days. Got a reply on the 12th August saying they have escalated the issue to be investigated.
It’s something, even if the “please wait” message took 9 days to deliver.