I have a Smartcard. I travel 1-2 times/week into London, so I load it up with a day return from the (old - because the new ones don't seem to support it) ticket machine at Farnborough. I do this, because 9/10 when I buy a paper ticket, they aren't properly coded with my ticket so I have to find a member of staff at FB and Waterloo to let me through the barriers, which is frustrating.
Yesterday I loaded the Smartcard as usual and got a "Seek assistance" at Farnborough. Now this happened last week, but it worked fine at Waterloo. (Note I'd already delayed my journey as my train was cancelled, then ended up on the floor of an overcrowded delayed train as per usual but that's another issue!)
Got to Waterloo and the gate errored "Card not approved". Weird. Phoned the Smartcard line when I got to work - after 50 minutes on hold I gave up and called in the afternoon. When they told me it must be a system error and my Smartcard was showing a "Open Month's Return" which apparently isn't supported on the card. I had the receipt and apparently a "Open Month's Return" so I headed home.
Got to Waterloo to be treated like a criminal - because the receipt (which I had) doesn't show what type of ticket you bought, I was treated like someone trying to jump on the train with no ticket. Apparently to the guard, it was showing "Zone 2/4 to London"
Anyway the point of the story is - the Smartcard is unreliable. Twice now it hasn't taken the ticket properly, and has left me nearly missing trains because the guards don't believe you, when you show them the receipt and explain there's an issue. (Despite the Smartcard people saying it's fine, they'll just phone the Smartcard line - although with a 50 min hold time it's not realistic). Staff at the station cannot help and don't care.
So it doesn't take the ticket you buy, but worse of all you can't actually prove you have a ticket. So you risk missing your train, paying penalties, and generally messing up your day.
So I guess I have to go back to a paper ticket, which doesn't work either, but at least I can prove which ticket I've bought.
Hello Dreamer, thank you for your feedback regarding Smartcards. I'm very sorry that you've encountered issues while using yours - I'll be sure to pass this onto the Smartcard team.
You're missing the point - the issue isn't that there was a problem with the Smartcard. That is frustrating of course, but the issue is:
a) Hours to try to get through to anyone on the phone to try and sort it out (which failed)
b) Station and concourse staff cannot deal with it, and treat you like a fare dodger, simply saying that the receipt doesn't prove which ticket you bought (which it doesn't), so they want to block you from boarding the train.
Until station staff are either able to deal with Smartcard issues, or have an expedited way to get hold of the Smartcard team (and actually know that they can/should and know how to do it), it's unworkable.