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Wrongful deductions made from 20,000 ez-link cards

A total of 20,000 commuters were affected during a glitch earlier this month which led to wrongful deductions from their ez-link cards, said EZ-Link on Friday (June 17).

In response to queries from The Straits Times, EZ-Link said there was a technical issue with a payment network it uses on June 7 and that 99 per cent of affected commuters had been refunded by June 9.

It added that there have been delays to refunds for the remaining commuters due to issues with their ez-link cards. It did not give the amount of money the deductions involved.

Some of the 20,000 affected commuters, which form about 1 per cent of EZ-Link's customers, had complained about the wrongful deductions on EZ-Link's Facebook page.

The company apologised for the erroneous deductions in a Facebook post on June 9 and said those affected would be refunded by June 10.

Ms Xie Yanting said that she is among those who have yet to receive a refund.

The 35-year-old accounts assistant said she has contacted EZ-Link's customer service team but has yet to receive a reply.

She said $20 had been deducted from her bank account using EZ-Link's SimplyGo automatic top-up function, but the money has not been credited to her ez-link keychain charm. An ez-link charm comes in the form of a trinket and is used for contactless payments and commutes.

EZ-Link has since contacted Ms Xie, and clarified on Saturday (June 18) that the $20 bank deduction Ms Xie had referred to was not an actual deduction, but a pre-authorisation holding amount for the EZ-Link auto top up she had applied for.

Another commuter, Facebook user Matthew Seah, said EZ-Link's customer service team took three working days to respond to his complaint about his delayed refund.

The SimplyGo system, which was launched in 2019, allows its users to commute using contactless payments which are directly charged to their bank accounts and credit or debit cards, removing the need for upfront top-ups.

From January 2021, EZ-Link updated the system to allow commuters to update or purchase ez-link cards and charms on board the SimplyGo system as well.

Following the incident, some users said they would switch to topping up their ez-link cards manually.

Mrs Nararat Nura Saisood, 37, an art enrichment instructor, received her refund of $22.04 but said she ended up taking a private-hire car ride when her ez-link card could not be used.

She added: "The incident caused me a lot of inconvenience, and I'm afraid to use any online top-up system now."

Ms Xie said: "A full review and upgrade of the system is needed. For now, I would rather queue to use the manual top-up machines at the MRT stations."

EZ-Link said it is working to tighten the SimplyGo processing system to prevent future recurrences.

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