Citylink billing screwup

Mini CooperOn the 29th of December I hired a Mini from Hertz as a Christmas present for Marita.

So that we could drive on the Citylink tollway, I temporarily added it to my Citylink account.

  • 29/12/2010 12:01pm. Added XPE308
  • 29/12/2010 12:30pm. Travelled on tollway
  • 30/12/2010 10:37am. Removed XPE308 from account

I thought no more about it until Monday, when a letter from Hertz arrived, saying that the travel had not been on a Citylink account, and therefore Citylink had billed Hertz (the car’s owner) for $8.60, and Hertz had added a $5.00 administration fee, and just for good measure, $1.36 of GST.

Grumble grumble.

It got worse. Upon looking at my Citylink account for that period, it turned out Citylink had charged me for 9 trips, costing $31.16, by the same vehicle, on the 14th, 19th and 20th of January.

It appears that Citylink’s computers are stuffed. They evidently don’t handle the temporary addition and removal of vehicles to accounts.

I can almost understand there might be a delay of 24 hours for this, but not two weeks — and remember, they would have billed Hertz at some stage later, long after their billing system should have known precisely when the Mini was meant to be on my account.

On Tuesday I rang Citylink about this. The bloke on the phone was very helpful; he refunded the $31.16, and gave me a reference number to quote to Hertz when I ring them.

I haven’t rung Hertz yet. Somehow I wouldn’t be surprised if they refuse to refund the $5 administration fee.

Some people like to have a go at Myki by way of claiming that Citylink’s billing system is perfect. It wasn’t always the case, and from this experience, it’s clear it still isn’t.

And Myki’s never stung me for as much as $31.

By the way, make sure you dispute incorrect charges with Citylink within 60 days. In the small print on their statements it says:

Please note: If you disagree with your Account Balance, you have 60 days from receipt of your statement, to contact CityLink. After 60 days, the Account Balance recorded on the statement will be considered to be correct.

Nice, hey?

Oh yeah, and Citylink still haven’t fixed their web site’s security configuration problem.

Update Monday 28/2: I didn’t have the stamina to ring Hertz, so used their web form instead, on Friday. Today they’ve replied. I’m suitably impressed that they have refunded both the Citylink charge and the administration fee.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

10 replies on “Citylink billing screwup”

Ouch! At least you got a letter from the car hire company explaining the charge. In my case a line appeared on my credit card statement showing a hefty charge that I wasn’t expecting – no explanation!

I don’t use PT often enough so I haven’t gone to Myki yet, and the one thing that puts me off is that the obligation to confirm correct charges falls back onto the user (if you can even understand what the correct charges are supposed to be), just like Citylink. This seems to be the way of all things and the users will be forced to spend their free time online or reading statements to confirm travel dates and charges.

We don’t use a Citylink account, and as such we use our phones to buy a travel pass on the rare occasion we use the Domain Tunnel / Citylink. On two occasions in the last ten months we have received “Did not pay” notices from Cityink, despite our bank statements showing otherwise. It’s a real pain having to chase them up each time to avoid paying *again*, so it’s interesting to see that our experience is far from isolated.

@Rob, unlike Citylink, Myki does give you feedback on-system for how much you’re being charged. The readers tell you each time you touch your card. (The exception is the hybrid Metcard/Myki station barriers, but they will be phased out if the Myki rollout goes ahead.)

@adrian, my Citylink account works fine if it’s just my usual car, with the eTag. From what you’re saying, it seems like it’s anything different to that when it stuffs-up.

The security issue with Citylink erked me enough that I complained to Citylink. I didn’t think their response (“we think Google is wrong”) was good enough, so I closed my Citylink account and opened an account with Breeze and I made sure Citylink knew why.

I’ve no idea if Breeze is much better, but it is at least an alternative.

One trick you could do in the future to avoid this problem is to use your tag in the temporary car.
When my dad got a new car, we just used the tag from the old car it replaced, even before we added the new car to the account.
If the car doesn’t have a tag holder (like our new car before the holder arrived in the mail), just use blu tack or get the front passenger to manually hold it as you pass a gantry.

I developed a major case of web rage last time I tried to buy a day pass on the CityLink website. It crashed and hung and I gave up and called instead. Let’s not even mention how hard it is to find the tiny link to actually buy a pass!

I and my partner have had a few small overcharges with myki, if you submit them via their online feedback form and include as much detail as possible, mostly you get an email response with in a day or two and the overcharge is credited back to your card a day or so later, no need for a phone call. Hopefully the days of overcharging are mostly behind us but it would be good if they could be automatically detected and removed, which apparently for privacy reasons they are not.

My experience with breeze tag (from Eastlink) has been marvellous, perhaps you should try it out (it is compatible with all the tollways that E-tag works with)

@Daniel: Hi Daniel, this is Gulsah At Hertz and we saw your blog post and thank you for taking the time to contact our customer care team via proper channels and informing us on the incorrect charges. We are happy to hear that you have received timely care and were refunded. Thank you for sharing your positive experience with your readers and we are happy to assist you in the future.
Thank you for being a customer.
Gulsah At Hertz

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