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THOUSANDS of public transport users have been hit with belated bills from myki, which failed to properly debit users' bank accounts since at least September last year.
A Transport Ticketing Authority spokesman said myki had failed to collect between $100,000 and $140,000 from about 2400 users. Users may be unaware of the problem because their myki accounts were credited even though their bank accounts were not charged.
Ben Haywood, a Fairfax employee, was told he owed $1040 in top-ups dating back to last September. Myki said it would credit 20 per cent back to his myki account as a ''gesture of goodwill'' once he had paid.
Mr Haywood said he had asked if he could pay in instalments but was refused. ''It's not easy to find $1000 at any given time for anybody. It's inconvenient for me, but it could be crippling for other people.
''I haven't done anything wrong, but I feel like I've got this penalty.''
It was reported earlier this month that a free website set up to help people check the accuracy of charges to their myki card found hundreds of public transport users - about 15 per cent of people reviewed - were being charged too much.
Myki's ''courtesy email'' says that the delayed transactions would be acted on over the coming weeks. ''There is nothing you need to do, however as a reminder, to avoid your myki being temporarily suspended please make sure sufficient funds are available in your nominated bank account by 17 October 2011,'' it says.
Mr Haywood received a further email from myki at 9.30 last night saying: ''l can understand it would have been alarming to receive the information in this way. I want to assure you that we will not attempt to recover any money from your account until we discuss this in more detail with you.''
Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen said users should seek advice before paying and said myki should offer instalments.
The government did not respond by deadline.
Meanwhile, Melburnians appear unwilling to have the existing Metcard ticketing system replaced with myki smartcards - but it will be forced upon them in just over a year.
The paper Metcard tickets are rated by rail and bus passengers as the best aspect of the public transport network while tram users rate it second.
This is in contrast to the $1.35 billion myki smartcard system, with bus passengers rating it the worst part of catching a bus and train, and tram passengers rating it significantly lower than Metcard.
The findings are in Transport Department surveys of about 2100 public transport users conducted between April and June and obtained by The Age under freedom-of-information laws.
A cost blowout of at least $350 million and its delayed introduction by more than three years saw myki attacked by the Coalition when in opposition.
Bus passengers have embraced myki the least, rating their satisfaction with it a 6.2 out of 10 while scoring Metcard eight. Rail passengers gave myki 7.1 and Metcard 7.7 while tram passengers gave myki 7 and Metcard 7.5.
All passengers consistently rated system information and swiping problems with the cards as its biggest drawbacks.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/myki-users-slugged-with-12-months-of-charges-20110927-1kvf7.html
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