The spectre of back-up credit card facilities within the London taxi industry has raised its head again as one of the industry's biggest credit card payment facility providers, CMT, developed a system fault on the evening of Friday, February 8, rendering some units inoperable.
The fault, which was identified by one of CMTs network providers, meant that APN settings were removed from some of CMTs sim cards, thus meaning that there was no data connectivity.
Despite the settings being re-added on Friday night at around 8.30pm, it transpired that the issue was not fully resolved. It was then discovered that the new settings were not being applied automatically and would have to be attended to manually.
In the meantime, drivers have been looking to use alternative, TfL approved back-up systems, whilst the CMT outage is being attended to.
However, things have taken a rather confusing twist. Coincidentally TaxiPoint have been in dialogue with a spokesperson at Transport for London regarding back-up credit card facilities, pertaining to the previous outage a few weeks earlier, when the O2 network went down.
TfL have stated that a second credit card facility is not permissible, and if there are any card system failures, customers must find alternative methods of payment, which could also mean searching for an ATM.
We have asked for the rationale behind this, given that there is no legislation pertaining to which system an individual can use, there is only the regulation pertaining to a vehicles condition of fitness. However if a system is an approved system, then it could be argued that as long as you have one fixed system in the vehicle, you should be able to use any other approved system allied to the one inside the vehicle. We are awaiting a response from TfL regarding the tginking behind not allowing a back-up system.
In the meantime cabbies have been frustrated by what is seen as a lack of common sense at TfL, citing that customers may have other modes of transport to use, such as a train or a plane and are on a time constraint, also those who are on tight working schedules, or going to theatres and cinemas, or are travelling to an area where there may not be a working ATM for miles around.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel regarding the problems at CMT, they have released an email saying the following:
"An issue was identified by one of our network providers on Friday night. For reasons still unknown APN settings were removed from our sim cards which meant that data connectivity would not work. The settings were re-added on Friday night at around 8.30pm and we were led to believe that all issues should be resolved. We saw a number of cabs reconnect to our host so were confident that it had worked. It is now clear that this did not resolve the issue for all. In essence, the new settings are not being applied automatically. We are working with our network provider to implement a remote fix, however, in the interim, we are able to re-provision the sim card in your vehicle in person."
They then went on to say:
"From Monday all CMT Service Centres will be able to apply the manual, in vehicle fix. Most have already been briefed over the weekend, but for some we will be briefing them first thing Monday morning. We have written out the protocol and, while it is a relatively quick process, demand is expected to be extremely high so please continue to lend us your patience."
They finally added:
"As always, every Driver is welcome at Kendal Avenue (W3 0AF) regardless of where you were installed. If you would rather visit either of Taxiworld’s branches (Tottenham - N15 4QL or Brewery Road - N7 9QH) or Ascots (Blackhorse Road - SE8 5HY) then you can visit them as long as they installed and maintain your system."
Ultimately it looks as thought there will be some form of resolution to the CMT issues tgis week, however there is still serious confusion as to the reasons behind TfLs stance on using secondary systems.