Transport for London has long crowed about Oyster cards being the cheapest way to travel. What they don’t tell you is these sinister electronic tags also track your movements and are deliberately used by TfL as an easy way to fleece unwary customers by incorrectly robbing them of any credit when the card readers stop working. Make no mistake, the primary function of an Oyster card is not convenience or value, it is simply a revenue raising ruse with an added value proposition straight out of the bumper book of Stasi Police.
Consider the typical scenario where a commuter touches in and touches out correctly. The Oyster reader beeps but crucially, the Oyster card is not actually read meaning the full obscenely expensive single peak fare is deducted from your balance. Another popular and highly lucrative TfL scam is to open the barriers whenever there are Tube delays. Unwary passengers pass through the barriers without touching out and are again charged the full single fare which is about as competitive as a construction contract drawn up by the Mafia.
Further evidence is amply provided by the amount of incorrect fines that TfL collects through Oyster. Some £60 million was raised last year of which £20 million was paid back in refunds but only after commuters claimed the money. Here’s the thing though; the refund process relies on the commuter initiating a claim and is stupidly complicated having been specifically designed by chimps to be as convoluted as possible thus deterring even the most trivial of cases. And don’t think for one moment that any extra revenue raised is going on service improvements, TfL has far too many fat cats and cronies who will happily waste the cash on less desirable enterprises like more CCTV or less audible speakers to ensure we all miss important travel announcements.
Even the bog standard convenience argument is lazy as a Greek civil servant. How many times have you been behind someone with an Oyster card during rush hour only for their card to fail at the reader? Immediately, a crush builds up behind you and tailbacks start forming as the hapless individual scans their Oyster card again and again before sloping off to the TfL attendant who stood in the corner sniggering away at the misfortune instead of trying to help.
Best thing is to stick with a paper ticket. There’s no tracking of movements plus it’s quicker, faster, costs the same amount and more importantly, stops TfL from scamming you for every last penny.