Fury as months’ worth of Sheffield taxi fares taken from ‘thousands’ of accounts in one go

The online mobile payment platform used by City Taxis malfunctioned, meaning payments for months worth of journeys not taken at the time were deposited from bank accounts all in one go without warning.

Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 2:16 pm

The issue, which potentially affected thousands of customers in Sheffield and South Yorkshire, saw the money for the transactions as far back as July running through to September taken as a lump sum by mobile transaction platform AirPay without prior warning.

Customers were only notified that large sums would be leaving their accounts in one go when City Taxis learned of the issue from AirPay.

A text message dated September 2 from City Taxis to all customers who used AirPay for rides in the affected period confirmed the payment platform’s error, the day after the money was taken.

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Taxis queue up (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

It said: “Yesterday Airpay debited for previous journeys taken without funds deducted due to system error. Youll soon receive a msg with the no of trans & total.”

Phil Moore, whose partner Melanie was affected by the issue, said: “Melanie is getting kidney dialysis so has to go to hospital a lot. She has to wear a mask and she can’t handle cash.

"She has been paying by AirPay when she has been travelling to the hospital in taxis.

"The was a malfunction with it and £96.40 was taken out in one full go, for taxi rides as far back as the start of July.

"City Taxis explained to us that it was down to AirPay. They told us that 3000 customers could have been affected by it.”

Phil explained that it turned out that even though Melanie was told the price of each journey and notified of the payment, the money was not actually being taken from her bank account by AirPay each time.

When AirPay realised this issue – almost two months after Melanie’s first journey – they took all of the outstanding payments at once.

Phil said that he contacted Melanie’s bank and was told AirPay was within its rights to take money in the way it had done.

A spokesperson from City Taxis said: “AirPay’s global merchant bank named Adyen had an intermittent issue with a software hook that meant the platform showed as taking a successful payment when it hadn’t actually taken any payment from the customers card.

"To rectify the issue AirPay ran a reconciliation script to capture all outstanding payments, City Taxis contacted all of its customers who had been affected with the dates they had booked a taxi & the amount that was related to this date so they could reconcile their bank account to reassure it hadn’t been taken twice.

“It’s quite ironic and annoying that we introduced AirPay to offer the customer a cashless option & an alternative to using the app, this came more prevalent during Covid-19 & the landscape we continue to face.

"Please be assured that no duplicate payments have been taken, Adyen and AirPay passed their apologies on for any inconvenience caused. May I add that our customers have been fantastic & very understanding with this unprecedented hitch.”

AirPay and Ayden have both been approached for comment.