South West Trains: Refund bug?

I don’t really know, nothing like this has ever happened to me before.

The way I vaguely understand it is that:
I logged on to TfL’s webpage and “paid” the congestion charge.
I got the £11.50 payment notification in monzo which is an “authorisation”.
This money is “presented” to TfL but 6 days later I received a refund for the £11.50 as TfL didn’t “collect” in time.
TfL are one of the few companies that can recollect the money after this 6 day period but they never did.

I’ve probably bodged my description and the terminology but that’s basically what I’ve learnt during this. That’s basically it, TFL say that can’t find any evidence of payment and refused my appeal. I appealed again in tribunal and again it was refused. Monzo described the above and gave me an “authorisation number” for the payment but that obviously meant as much to TfL and London tribunals as it did to me.

Current at £130 fine for the poxy charge, I’ll keep writing letters as it goes up exponentially like the ignorant, stuck in the middle consumer that I am :slight_smile:


I know that technically they say ‘Sam didn’t pay, Sam now pays a fee’, that’s why ruling wasn’t in your favour. And technically you didn’t pay, but you did your best and what you thought was enough to secure the payment.

Current ruling is making you responsible for fault - apparently and clearly - on tfl’s end. How consumer can be responsible for financial system of the seller? Similar analogy would be, I go to Tesco and buy stuff, but my payment is not collected. Tesco tells police I stole food and I had to pay x10 more. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I might be layman in terms of law and fancy banking rules, but hell, this doesn’t seem fair in any way.

I wanted to say ‘may the odds be ever in your favour’, but they are not in your favour currently anyway. :sob:


Thanks for the support Marta, a pretty silly situation to be in. It’s not like I magically made an £11.50 payment to TfL from my card, this was initiated by following a process and entering a number into a system on a website like we’ve all done 1000s of times.
TfL’s main arguement is that I dont have the receipt number that they give at payment - obviously I should have read 93 pages of t&c, ignored the “payment” notifications and constantly repeated until their system (or forgive me, monzo’s?!!) stopped blipping and gave me one…

It’s likely TfL but someone has failed me and there’s only two parties involved, leaving me the pain of fighting out of prinicpal!


Can you escalate this any further? I’m really surprised and somewhat concerned the appeal was rejected…


I can ask for an appeal review, which I’m going to do in a day or so.

All I can really say is the same thing I’ve been telling them all the way through:
The website didn’t error or imply any problem, I didn’t get emailed or texted a receipt or whatever I’m meant to get, payment was taken (well, the authentication, presentment, non-collection process) and the payment was refunded 6 days later. Fine arrived in the post.
Monzo cs wrote a little letter saying the money was presented and gave an authorisation number (some random 6 or so digit number), this is the only evidence I have (along with some app screenshots etc).

I’ll let you know how it goes here, I’ve totally hijacked this thread away from people who got sound like they got a non-consequential free train ticket (! :)) but it’s the sort of thing I’d be wary of in the future for any payments like this.
I really regret not using a credit card. Can’t say this wouldn’t have happened but it likely would have been cleared up (well, not my problem) in a phone call to them.

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Alas no, it took till the 25th, but they charged it.

Almost a year later and the Tribunal and subsequent appeal decided against me, I now owe TfL £130 fine for a failed congestion charge payment…

I guess I should have known they issue a receipt number and kept my eye on my monzo feed for days after the instant transaction showed up. It’s probably TfL, it might have been monzo but it wasn’t my fault yet I’m the one that has to pay a fine.

Buyer beware…

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That’s ridiculous.

Frankly, I’d offer the £11.50 and if they wanted more I’d tell them to eff off and fix their systems.

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:frowning: I wish we had a dislike button. I don’t blame Monzo for this, at all, I’ll note. TfL should have made contact even if the issuer rejected payment to get a re-run.

Sucks to be the customer in this though? You wack your card number in to a website (or stick it in the till at Tesco?), watch the money “come out” of your account and carry on about your business - Until the fines and threat of burly men appear.
I’m no whizz but there’s only really monzo and TfL involved, I’m just the guy that’s screwed in the end.

Like everyone here, I’ve done this 1000s of times, it’s not something you expect to happen. Not sure why you want to dislike my commentary though (!) the only thing I can categorically state in all this is that I tried to pay (monzo’s live feed makes you feel especially fuzzy that online payments have gone through) and got punished for not.


Agreed, and to me, TfL is clearly in the wrong. Card payments fail! I had Amex reject a transaction in a shop, I’d left the shop and had a receipt from them. And the shop was in Bristol while I’m in London. I messaged the shop, they didn’t believe it could have happened at first, but checked with their processor. It happened, and they tole me to just pay them next time I was in Bristol, which I did, the owner laughed about how many issues happen and how ridiculous it was (also, they should have noticed the terminal said declined not approved). But, it was a relaxed ‘yeah, it went wrong, just come in and pay us whenever’.

TfL, meanwhile, is taking an, at worst, similar (and we don’t know the tech problem wasn’t on TfL’s end, in this case the issue was clearly on Amex’s end) situation and charging you fines ten times the attempted payment amount!

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Did they give any explanation as to why they refused the appeal?

Can you take them to court, or did you waive this option by participating in their tribunal process?

It would be interesting if Monzo were able to comment on @sams’s particular case. Was this a problem with Monzo (it sounds like it wasn’t)? If so, are they able to cover the fine? @tristan?

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I am not a lawyer, but is there a way you can counter sue them for the fine + your own time, in small claims court?

Again you did indeed try to pay and both Monzo, MasterCard, the prepaid card processor (if this was on the prepaid scheme) and even TfL’s acquirer bank has a record of the transaction. This should be enough proof to turn the tables. :+1:t2:



It’s finished now so I can’t dispute the “clearly the purchase in this case was interrupted before completion”.
As anyone that’s ever paid for anything online know, you tend to enter a card number and click pay - Whatever happens in the background is pretty instantaneous and that’s it.
This payment was like any other, I paid the charge on the day for my cars registrstion, and as I clicked it the £11.50 payment appeared in monzo - No obvious errors on the screen, no closing of the browser, no synchronised flicking of my computer’s power switch, a bog standard transaction followed by months of stupidity.

I can’t understand how the payment can be authorised but at the same time, rolled back, but what do I know about the backend intricacies of tfl’s system and payment processing. I went in to the tribunal and appeals armed with the same ignorance we all have when we do a menial payment like this (and a letter from monzo saying that they could see the transaction and made it available to TfL etc). There was no dispute from TfL over the actual details of the charge/car/etc, it’s simply that the payment didn’t work.

I mean, that could happen anywhere, and it would be wrong of me to speculate where. I don’t deny the facts the card payment failed. It could have been their system, it could have been Monzo’s, it could have been a glitch on Mastercard’s network even. We just don’t know. Card payments fail, every card, every issuer, every network - Some are better than others (and Monzo is nowhere near the worst in my experience), but all cards fail sometimes.

To me, what is ridiculous is the massive penalty charge instead of just a polite notice saying ‘hey, the card payment failed, can we try again or can you give us different details?’ I mean, are you sure they didn’t try to contact you and give you a chance to fix it before all this penalty stuff?

I mean, that’s what TfL does for contactless. If an authorisation gets declined (and it’s a deferred online similar to this), you just call them up and pay.


Yeah, it’s a real shame someone didn’t go “hmm that’s a weird glitch, just pay the charge again and we’ll look into that” at some point in the process.
Quick synopsis as I feel like I’m ranting pointlessly into my phone : I just got an automated fine letter offering me a discount if I paid now. I phoned up to say that I had already paid (and in the process noticed that I had been refunded 6 days later) but they couldn’t find any evidence of payment.
I contacts monzo who confirmed that the transaction was processed and made available for “collection” by TfL who didnt take it in time, hence the refund.
I didn’t dispute that I effectively now owed the charge, I just didn’t want to pay a fine for someone else’s failure. Then tribunals and evidence and waiting and appeals and threats of bayliffs (London tribunals or TfL messes up informing each other of the appeal) and an apology and more waiting and then a judgement against me.

If it was a retailer I could take my business away from at least I’d have a little satisfaction!


And a court would probably laugh a retailer out for trying to charge a £100+ fine over an IT glitch…

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made available for “collection” by TfL who didnt take it in time, hence the refund

The refund didn’t actually prevent them from taking the money later on, provided you had enough in your account (and even then, unless it’s obviously fraudulent, a settlement will still work even if it puts your balance in the negative even without any overdraft available).


I’m not sure what we can advise on here @sams but if you were able to reach out over chat, we could have a look at your account and try and help if we could.


Couldn’t or wouldn’t? I can’t speak for TFL specifically but with a lot of public sector contracts the companies who are contracted out to collect the payments just care that the consumer finally pays up as they get a percentage or fixed payment for doing so. In the process of extorting people they will hide behind legally shaky and obscure rules and bylaws that let local government get away with obscene abuses of power (see any fine for leaving your bin too close to the curb).