I did hear of a couple of anomalies from friends and media - but if I'm honest, I thought they were probably the fault of the user and not of the system. Clearly some people were not returning the bikes to the docking stations correctly - TFL has been reminding us incessantly to make sure the green light goes on when you take the bike back - and this was the reason for the extra charges.
However, when it happens to me, then clearly it is a fault with the scheme. And in the last couple of days I've had some very annoying experiences.
The first was just a bit strange. I logged onto my account and saw the following screen:
I can say with complete confidence that I did not cycle in Kensington, Hyde Park or the Strand during those days. The Milroy Walk/Abbey Orchard Street journey is correct.
More importantly, I have not paid £90. Fortunately this supposed payment has not been taken from my credit card. Either my account data is being mixed in with someone else's, the ID numbers of the docking stations have been changed, or the system is just showing random false information. I never believe that software bugs are random, so there's something else wrong under the surface.
However, no harm done there - just a confusing data display.
More frustratingly, I tried using the key yesterday and couldn't get a bike out. The status light turned red and it would not release the bike - I went to three different docking stations in succession and had the same experience with them all. So I had to switch to the bus - which cost me money and, more to the point, time. I then tried once more when I arrived at the destination, and it seemed to partly work: the light turned yellow, and then went out with neither a green or red confirmation. I was able to take the bike out, so I assumed it was working...but the hire has not been recorded on my account, so more likely the previous user had not returned it correctly and the bike was not even secured?
I assumed it was a temporary problem and went about my business. Then in the evening when I needed to get somewhere on time, the same thing happened. I called customer services - waited on hold for 5 minutes - and the guy told me there is a problem with the auto-renew feature. This means that I now have to call them or go online every time I want to hire a bike, instead of being charged automatically when I use one. Of course they have no idea when this problem will be fixed, or why it only affects some users. Therefore - on the principle that software never does things entirely at random - I don't think I believe them.
Either way, I went online this morning to pay for an access period. The first oddity is this: Apparently my account has been charged multiple times last night (the 18:42 charges are all from around the time I attempted to use it in the evening, just before ringing the call centre):
However there is no transaction on my credit card at that time, and I don't have a valid access period corresponding to the charges.
I clicked on the 'Activity log' link to get more history, and here is what I saw:
...and yet more! before we finally get to an actual transaction:
Update: It didn't work. But I called them again, and they have - supposedly - fixed my auto-renew settings. There seemed to be some problem with charging my card, though when they took the same card details again over the phone it worked fine.
Unsurprisingly, some other people have been having similar problems. I have a post coming soon on the economics of the scheme, which are surprising in a couple of ways.