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Discussion Starter #1
We noticed that the £1 pre-auth CYC made when we signed up at the weekend was not a pre-auth at all.. (this is one of many screwups we've had with them lately).

It's only £1, but this seems like a pretty shady mistake to me. I wonder how many other people were affected?
 

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Hi Dan

Apologies for this, I've no idea what happened but I'll investigate when I get back into the office tomorrow.

I can assure you however, that there is nothing 'shady' going on.

I just had a look through your other thread and just wanted to clarify a few things. CYC does run, on behalf of TfGM and Bristol CC, GMEV and Source West. These are schemes administered by us In their behalf.

They have both, as you've seen, subsidised access cards to encourage EV take up in their local areas. As much as we'd like to subside cards for drivers everywhere we unfortunately can't.

The reason we charge for our access cards is to cover the cost of the card, the VAT, the postage and the admin time to process the applications. CYC is a private company with no outside and so we cannot provide free access cards to our drivers.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The reason we charge for our access cards is to cover the cost of the card, the VAT, the postage and the admin time to process the applications.
All of those costs are up-front and one-off. We'd have been happy to pay a one-off fee, but not an annual one (£40/year for almost no advantage over the free app is silly).

That said, after all the issues we've had in the last week with your service/app/mis-advertising, I'm afraid we wouldn't even pay 2x£10/one-off. You have a lot of room for improvement, I'm afraid.
 

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Dear me, sorry. I did of course mean 'nothing shady going on' The perils of writing on an iPhone on a train.

Dan, I'm sorry you feel like that. If you want to send over an email detailing the problems you've encountered I'll do my best to correct them
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Dan, I'm sorry you feel like that. If you want to send over an email detailing the problems you've encountered I'll do my best to correct them
I already included most details in an email to Julia, but here's a summary:
  • GMEV card advertised as £10/one-off, turns out not to be true (it's annual)
  • GMEV card advertised without any restrictions on where you live, turns out we're not allowed one (we live in Cheshire, just near Manchester... being able to charge when visiting is probably more convenient to us than those that live there and probably have home chargers!)
  • Web app let me sign up with a + in my email address (a prefectly valid character), then attach card details, but then the mobile app wouldn't let me login due to the + (why your Android app is even validating email addresses at login time, I have no idea, never mind the validation being wrong). I had to wait for your staff to update my email address to be able to access my account.
  • Putting a % in the email address in the Android app gets past the validation that stopped the +, yet generates an error (and shows the details to the user). This looks mighty fishy to me, and could be exploitable (suspect an encoding issue; this should've given the same message as any other email address not found
  • You charged us £1 after saying it was pre-auth only
  • Your app's API is flaky. When we tried to charge, every other button press in the app gave a "500 server error" message and we had to keep retrying (our mobile signal was fine, and a 500 response from a server is not as a result of a bad connection to the server, it's a server-side error)
I'm sure there are other things that frustrated us, but those are the things I remember. We signed up because there are limited charging options in Poole (we're taking a holiday there next month), but we feel so let down by the service (and the fact you want £40/year for us to be able to charge reliably with an RFID card) that we're going to make do with the app and have our accounts closed when we return.

We've used Ecotricity chargers loads without any issues and both Ecotricity and Polar provided RFID cards for free (although we had to add credit for Polar, we get to use that credit on charging). If we'd been able to get the RFID cards as advertised (£10/lifetime) we would've handed £20 over for two easily (and we'd use your chargers). As a result of the above, you'll sadly get £0 and we won't after our holiday in Poole.
 

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Sonic blue
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We noticed that the £1 pre-auth CYC made when we signed up at the weekend was not a pre-auth at all.. (this is one of many screwups we've had with them lately).

It's only £1, but this seems like a pretty shady mistake to me. I wonder how many other people were affected?
I got charged £1 on Monday and the £20 annual fee when I joined
 

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I recently had a random £1 taken from my credit card, despite having paid for the RFID card. It didn't seem worth complaining given the amounts involved. I will however be more concerned if I'm charged a renewal fee, given that this isn't made clear on the website.
Also, my parents, who live in Cheshire and also have a Leaf, attempted to order a CYC card through GMEV, and were rejected on the basis of their location. However, a return trip to Manchester's just outside the Leaf's range, and so they have a greater need for public charging than someone who lives in the city centre...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I only cared because everything else had been so shoddy (unable to login due to poor coding, app terrible unreliable, restrictions not mentioned on GMEV site, incorrect advertising as one-off fee). I can't believe a company can not notice that they're charging customers money unexpectedly (and if they charged you out of the blue, then it seems even more suspicious than the mistake of a charge vs a pre-auth as we thought it was)...

Really poor.
 

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I've had the card for a while, but I think the £1 charge corresponded to trying (unsuccessfully) trying to use the app to start a failed charge remotely (albeit on a free charging location). I agree that the iPhone app is terrible, but I rely on the RFID card at least once a week to get home, and I've yet to return on a flat bed :)
 

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Zoe Q210 Dynamique Intens, Kia Niro PHEV
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I've also had the £1.00 pre auth charge (can't be a failed charge, I've not got the car yet!!!)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think it could be when you add card details to the app (which seems somewhat disconnected to the web app), as my wife got the charge but I didn't (I only added card details via the web app, as I couldn't login to the app).

Sounds pretty poor. I wonder how long this has been going on? @CYC should be automatically refunding all of these; can't imagine it's legal to be charging people's cards without permission like this :-/
 

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Thanks all for bringing this to our attention. I've been through the banking logs and I definitely can't see us taking the £1s so I've not got a clue it's happening for some drivers. We're looking into it though and, of course, anyone whose has anything wrongly taken will be refunded.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Kinda worrying that you can't find these...?! Julia found ours very quickly and refunded it.

I believe it's only happening for the mobile app((s) - Android at least). For some reason the app seems to handle its own payment (and not use the card details from the web app), and it seems to be when adding them this happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
@CYC Continued to have a poor experience with your chargers today...

We drove to Manchester, expecting to take the kids to the Museum of Science & Industry...
  1. Your map shows a charger called "Hulme Street". There is indeed a charger on Hulme Street, however on your map, it is shown on a completely different road (River Street). It took us many minutes of driving around (River Street is one-way) trying to find the charger. A picture showing this charger (blue, on the left) and where Hulme Street actually is (to the right) is attached.
  2. Your website and app clearly state "Parking free of charge" for this charger. However there is a clear sign next to it that says "Electric car charging, must pay and display at machine". A picture showing the "free parking" note is attached (unfortunately we did not take a picture of the sign next to the charger, because we were frustrated and trying to find a charge).
  3. This charger appears to have a poor mobile signal, because we failed to start a charge for over 10 minutes. Our mobile signal was fine and the app worked fine retrieving lists of chargers etc.. The step that always failed was the one that connects to the charger and starts the charge.
Because of this experience, we ended up leaving Manchester and heading for the Traffod Centre instead because we had barely any charge and knew there were significantly more chargers there. After the experience at Hulme Street, we didn't dare try the other chargers nearby for fear of them failing for the same reason, and us not having enough charge to get anywhere. This is the first time between our two cars in almost three months we've ever had to leave a charger without charging (all but one of our previous charges have been with other networks).

When we got to the Trafford Centre (with 2 miles of charge), we had the same frustration trying to start the charge for 10 minutes, before the app eventually managed to connect to the server (again, our signal was fine, this was the connection to the charger). Fortunately, we managed to get a charge.

We really want to be happy with CYC/GMEV, but with the terrible experiences, and being told that despite frequently visiting Manchester we can't have a card for the advertised cost, it's becoming increasingly difficult. We've never had these sorts of problems with any other charging network.

I'm now trying to find out whether the RFID card would resolve these issues (even though I'm incredibly reluctant to pay £20/year when every other network is free, and we've not had issues with theirs), but can't find any information on whether your charger still needs its connection to your servers to start a charge (eg. to verify the RFID card is live). There's absolutely not point having the RFID card if it doesn't remove the weak link, which is your own chargers data connections. Really, you need to work on this. I've always told people that say EV infrastructure is ready that they're wrong; but now I really couldn't recommend an EV around Manchester with the state of your chargers.
 

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On Reliability of data connections, this isn't necessarily the problem in the instances you described OCPP as it stands is a massively buffered protocol to deal with poor signal, this makes its very slow to respond when you issue it realtime commands, the Round Trip is massive, Phone to Server, Server to Point, the latter may also include a call across different backend systems to finally get to the point intended. RFID tags are generally loaded onto the GW device or local to the point periodically allowing completely offline use if configured to, I have never had any problem with my CYC RFID, so much so I have never tried the app.

Also the reality is you/us/we are on the bleeding edge here, and the kinks are nowhere near being ironed out.

Finally do you use plugshare? Does that show the correct location, if not I am sure there are many of us who would appreciate it if you corrected the location.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I don't use PlugShare I'm afraid. I did check ZapMap, which has the correct location (and claims to have come from NPR), so I'm kinda surprised CYC's own site is bollocks. Checked both the app and the website, and they're both showing it, so not just a weird issue on one :(

I understand the complications in having these devices communicate, but that's no excuse for something to be so unreliable. If it's so bad, why can't I use NFC from my phone with the app? Or why can't the timeout be longer?

It's interesting you think the chargers might have the RFID IDs cached offline. I hoped this would be the case, but given how shoddy this whole thing has been, I would just be really surprised. It's also possible if the connection times out, they just always allow the charge (seems like a reasonable failsafe). I'd like confirmation of this from CYC before I'd pay for a card though.
 
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