Discussion:
Borders Rail ticket machines, again
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Jack Campin
2015-09-23 21:17:41 UTC
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I mentioned some of the problems we had buying tickets from the platform
machines on Borders Rail. Turns out the problem was a great deal worse
than I could have imagined possible.

Marion tried to pay for a ticket with her Co-Op Bank Visa debit card.
It didn't work. She then found the card couldn't be used in retail
card readers, though she could still withdraw money from ATMs. She
found out today from the bank that her problems were not unique.
Somehow the machine had zapped her card into into a state where it
could only be used with a bank ATM, and they'd had this happen to
enough customers that they'd worked out a routine for dealing with
it (there is some hidden function on an ATM that can unzap a card
that's been put into this state).

I am not sure whether this is a problem with all Borders Rail ticket
machines or just the one at Newtongrange. Whatever, I am astonished
that it was even possible for a card reader to do that.

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Claudio Calvelli
2015-09-24 06:35:15 UTC
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Post by Jack Campin
I am not sure whether this is a problem with all Borders Rail ticket
machines or just the one at Newtongrange. Whatever, I am astonished
that it was even possible for a card reader to do that.
There is a mechanism where a card which has been used too many times in
machines which don't do on-line verification will stop working until
it gets to a machine which does. This is presumably to stop a stolen
card being used again and again with machines which have no way to
know it's stolen; also, you can go way over the credit/overdraft limit
without anybody noticing unless there's some similar mechanism. And I
know that ticket machines outside of cities often aren't doing online
verification (if you use your card only to buy ticket at these machines
it'll stop working). The mechanism must be built in the card itself,
rather than the machine, otherwise it won't work; but then all cards have
a chip these days so it could easily count how many times they've been
used without seeing an authorisation code from the online verification
or some similar mechanism (I don't know the details, and I haven't
worked in card authorisation in, ahem, 14 years, so things will have
certainly changed).

Might be something related? If they are like the new machines at
Haymarket, they don't seem to like selling tickets anyway, so who knows
what else they can do wrong, maybe they keep retrying a card transation
until the card decides it's been stolen.

C

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