Getting Myki to refund incorrectly charged fares

I’ve been using Myki on daily commute to work for just over 6 months now, having purchased a Yearly zone 1 pass to beat the 2012 price rise. Like the silent majority of Melburnians my Myki had mostly worked without any major issues, until last week when I got overcharged for travel, leaving me to deal with the byzantine system that is the Myki customer service department.

(the impatient can skip straight to how I got my refund)

The situation

Last week I was standing at the corner of King and Lonsdale Streets in the Melbourne CBD, and need to get up to Swanston Street. Normally to get from one end of town from another I’ll catch a tram, but since I was standing beside a bus stop, I decided to climb aboard one of the many Smartbuses that run the length of the street.

Smartbus liveried buses everywhere at the west end of Lonsdale Street: the terminus of the new DART bus routes from Doncaster into the city

I’ve got a zone 1 Myki pass loaded onto my card, so the trip down Lonsdale Street should’ve been a free trip. However, when I stepped off the bus at the Swanston Street stop, the Myki reader said a fare had been deducted. So why the hell had I been charged for a trip I had already paid for?

The answer is that the bus thought it was in zone 2 and so charged me for it – the system relies on knowing where you are travelling to and from. That works fine for railway stations that stay still, but in the case of buses and trams they move between fare zones – theoretically the system uses GPS to work out what zone they are in, but it does get confused.

Empty 'GPS status' screen on a Tram Driver Console

So what if the GPS drops out‘ you say – ‘just get the bus driver to fix it‘ you suggest. It sounds like a simple suggestion, and in the case of Metcard this is what already happens, but in the case of Myki the haphazard rollout process prevents this – Myki equipment on buses and trams is running in ‘headless’ mode (more on Daniel Bowen’s blog) so the driver can’t do anything.

Getting my refund

Given that I knew why I was overcharged, the question remaining was how to get a refund. A look at the Myki website gave me a list of all different forms – the ‘Refund & Reimbursement’ one look promising, but on further inspection it only applies if you are getting rid of your account – not for getting an incorrect charge reversed.

Myki forms library

With no luck, there, I asked the Twitter for an answer.

Thankfully I got one:

Clicking through to gave me a contact form, albeit extremely generic looking and with a 1000 character limit.

Myki contact us form

Would my issue get to the correct department? I typed in my message then clicked submit.

On 10/07/2012 I caught a bus along Lonsdale Street in the Melbourne CBD, from King Street to Swanston Street. For this journey I was charged for $2.26, despite it being entirely in zone 1, and my Myki having a zone 1 pass active. Looking at my Myki history I touched on at 12:10:20 and touched off at 12:16:37, and the bus thought it was in zone 2, hence I was incorrectly charged for the bus trip. I would like the $2.26 refunded to my Myki.

It seems the submission worked, as a log of it showed up on my account dashboard a few seconds later. Finally something Myki can get right?

Myki feedback submission listed in my account settings

Unfortunately for Myki it is a case of one step forward but another back – it took five minutes for the automated confirmation message to arrive in my email inbox.

My final resolution came two days later, in an email that didn’t really answer my original query (the emphasis is mine).

Dear Marcus,

Thank you for contacting myki.

We write in response to feedback we received, reference number 4141805, regarding your transaction history.

Upon investigation of your transaction history for myki, card number xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, we have identified that you were overcharged by $2.26 on 10/07/2012 when you travelled on a bus in an overlap zone.

We have requested a reimbursement of $2.26 onto your myki. Reimbursements can take at least 24 hours to process and will be available at next touch on.

Please be advised that we are aware of this issue, this situation is very rare and is only expected to impact people who travel near zone boundaries and overlap zones on buses and in most cases you will be charged a lower fare.

We are working to rectify this issue as soon as possible; however we are unable to provide a time frame at this point. In the mean time, we do request that you contact us if investigation is required regarding a possible overcharge. If an overcharge has occurred, a reimbursement will be processed.

If you need further information, please visit or call 13 6954 (13 myki) any day between 6.00am and 12.00am.

myki Customer Care Team

Lonsdale Street in the Melbourne CBD is about as far from the zone 1 + 2 overlap you can possibly get, so did they even read my message? At least I got my $2.26 back!

(I’m guessing overcharging due to zone overlap issues is the more common occurrence, so I got sent the same canned response.)

Further reading

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5 Responses to “Getting Myki to refund incorrectly charged fares”

  1. Daniel15 says:

    I recently moved house and my new place has bus lines and train stations in the zone 1/2 overlap. I’ve got a zone 1 pass so I’m waiting to see how often I get overcharged. Surprisingly it’s been fine so far.

  2. mich says:

    Their response seems rather moronic.

  3. Andrew says:

    Yes, a pro forma response, slightly altered, like I received for my VLine complaint.

  4. lzg says:

    I have been overcharged many times since 2013. I was overcharged again this morning, 9 July 2014. It occurred now and then, for the same route that I travel everyday.

    It took time to claim the refund and everytime they said “We are working to rectify this issue as soon as possible”.

  5. […] are down to poor implementation, such as the slow and inconsistent read times for cards, or the difficulty that trams and buses have in detecting which of Melbourne’s two gigantic zones they are […]

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