I recently blogged about poor experiences using the CYC network (mostly GMEV chargers) and sent the post to CYC. Today CYC responded.

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your email. I’ll work down your blog post point by point if that’s ok?

First of all, the problems you’ve have had with the App. We’re a little hamstrung here as our App was built by a third party who still retain most of the administrational rights for it so all changes need to go through them and be made on their side of things. When you first reported the email problem this was immediately sent to them to correct. I will also make them aware of the App security issues you have flagged up but I assure you that both CYC and our developers are fully PCI Compliant.

The mistakenly taken £1 pre-auths – I use the word mistakenly because I think ‘fraudulently’ is quite harsh – thank you for flagging this is up us. As we told you at the time, this was a problem in the way the app had been set up with Paypoint and when someone registered their card an error in the code meant that Paypoint counted it as a transaction and not a pre-auth. As soon as you flagged this up we reported it to the developers and after a fair bit of troubleshooting the problem was identified and rectified. CYC then retroactively went through and refunded everyone who had ever signed up their £1 – Including me, so thank you.

You will be pleased, I’m sure, to know that we are currently building a new App in-house that will hopefully solve a large amount of these issues and improve communications between the app and post. We (or I at least) are happy to admit that the App isn’t great atm. It’s sticky, it lags, it’s clunky. Previous management were keen to be first to market with the app and so a lot of mistakes were made that will hopefully be corrected in the new version. The wireframes for the new app have recently been signed off and so we hope it will be ready by late September, however this is dependent on how many cups of coffee and cans of energy drink we can pour down Joe.

RFID Cards attached to wrong accounts – This has happened on the odd occasion unfortunately but has been rectified as soon as it’s been flagged up. CYC Applications are processed by a member of the team here and, as is always the way, human error can occur. As much as I’d like to delete my colleagues, I do enjoy their company on occasion and so I have asked them to be far more vigilant. As far as charging drivers for usage that isn’t their own, please rest assured that any charges levied in error will be removed and ANY money taken in error will ALWAYS be refunded in full as soon as it’s flagged up. You seem to be under the impression that we’re out to stiff drivers and take their money – I can categorically say that this is not the case. We’re actually quite nice people.

RFID Cards. You hate RFID cards, I hate RFID cards, everyone hates RFID cards. Unfortunately though for funding to be issued for a charger, it NEEDS to have a unique access method so its usage and EV uptake can be monitored. There is currently no way around it – Although we are looking into alternatives. As such, we offer RFID cards priced at £20 per annum. Transport for Greater Manchester do subsidise RFID Cards for drivers within their remit, this was done as a way of encouraging EV uptake in the region and the cards are priced at £10 ONE OFF. As you can imagine, a lot of people would rather pay £10 one off than £20 per annum and so we get drivers from outside of the region trying to register (Holland being the furthest so far) If we get an application from outside of the region but close to Manchester (such as yourself) we ask TfGM about the application. As we explained to you at the time, they confirmed that you fell outside of their area.

We did say at the time that you could apply for a CYC Access Card if you wanted and we explained to you why we could not give you one for free in the same way that other networks do. The income generated by Access Cards (actually very little when you take away the VAT, cost of the card, postage and admin time) is directly used to help fund the CYC Helpdesk and our Out of Hours support – Something which we DO NOT wish to withdraw. Sorry to jump to another point, but it seems to lead on nicely.

The problem you had this weekend with a trapped cable. You are correct, the main CYC office is closed at weekends. At present we operate 08.00-18.00 Mon-Fri. Outside of these hours we operate an emergency support number. This is a member of the CYC team with a mobile phone and laptop who, no matter what time of night or day, is available to aid stranded drivers. If you call the office number you will hear a message stating that the office is closed but if you have a trapped cable please call a number. Had you of called that number, the member of staff on call this weekend would have been more than happy to stop what they were doing and release your cable.

Just so we’re clear, the staff member on Out of Hours only has limited access to systems and is only there for releasing trapped cables. However we never knowingly leave a driver stranded. There have been many, many occasions where we’ve started sessions, reset posts, directed to nearby chargers, helped non-CYC members get a charge etc… The reason the phone does not simply direct to the team member is in an attempt divert what we’d deem ‘non-emergencies’ to business hours, for example, a call at 5am because a driver couldn’t remember their Apple ID.

Incorrect charger locations and blank numbers – This is hugely disappointing. When a CP is commissioned the installing engineer takes a lat/lon reading from the post and send it to us. If this is incorrect, we’re in trouble from the get go. As you can imagine we don’t know where each of our chargers are, we’re based in Brighton and I haven’t even set foot in Manchester for years, so we rely on correct information from others. The same goes for parking information. The CYC site showed what we were given. As for the stickers, I am looking into why these haven’t been applied at the moment. I assume they were and some hilarious child removed them. Clearly we need to rethink how we number our Charge Points if they can be removed so easily.

Regarding the failed sessions at various Charge Points, if your starttransation message was reaching our servers, there would be a record of it. If it hasn’t reached us, we don’t know about it. By the sounds of it, it looks like you’ve had several occasions when, for whatever reason, the starttransation has not made it to our server. We’re looking into why this is but for the time being I have removed the chargers at Hulme Street, Bury Market and Media City from the App. Looking that the records from last week there were a number of successful charge sessions, started by the App, at the Trafford Centre and I know this is a popular location so these have not been removed at present. Again, we hope that the new version of the app will solve a lot of these issues but it’s worth mentioning that last week the CYC estate clocked up 762 Charging Sessions started with the App. 43 of which were in Manchester.

Lastly, I’d like to thank you for reporting these problems to us and I hope the fact that I’ve given such a thorough and frank reply will go some way to convincing you that we do actually care.

If you have any more questions or comments I would be more than pleased to help.

Many thanks

So CYC are now certainly aware of the experience that I (and maybe others) have had. It’s great that CYC took the time to respond in this detail :)

It’s interesting that they’re sure that if the “charge start” request hits their server, it will be logged. If the issue we’re seeing is not connectivity, then maybe it’s fixable in software (I assumed it would need better mobile antennas in the chargers). I’m hoping to proxy some failing “start charge” requests next time we go to Manchester (if I can find a way to do such a think on Android without a portable machine running Fiddler!) in the hope of maybe helping understand this unreliability.