Users warned of Octopus delay

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 February, 2011, 12:00am

Octopus card users with the automatic add-value service be warned: if you lose your card you could be HK$1,000 poorer in just six hours.

The Consumer Council yesterday demanded that Octopus Cards speed up its response to reports of lost cards.

As the service now stands, users of personalised Octopus cards are liable for all value added automatically to cards in the six hours after they report the cards missing. They are also held liable for any amounts deducted from the card's balance during that six hours.

Assuming a card user has a balance of HK$499 and has the automatic add-value service with a limit of HK$500, they could lose as much as HK$1,000, including the handling fee, if someone else shops with the card.

To limit their financial loss, the watchdog recommended cardholders report a lost card as soon as they became aware it was missing.

'Cardholders should report their loss to the Octopus operator directly,' the council's Philip Leung Kwong-hon said. 'They should not go to the credit card-issuing bank, as the added-value feature will not be disabled even after the loss is reported to the credit card company.'

Under existing policy, users can automatically add HK$250 or HK$500 to their cards every day.

Octopus Cards was aware of the council's demands, a spokesman said. But as the card operated in an offline mode, it took time to lock its function in different systems. If charges were disputed, card users could demand printed records of transactions, he said. The transactions would be free of charge if the users were not responsible for the mistakes.

More than 21 million Octopus cards have been issued in Hong Kong since their launch in 1997.

In the past two years, the council received 50 and 62 complaints relating to the cards. Most were about charge disputes, with some reporting interchange discounts did not work and others saying they were repeatedly charged by retailers for a single item.

The Consumer Council advised people not to put two Octopus cards together or place the card alongside electronic devices during payments. They should also keep receipts for transactions, it said.

Popular plastic

The number of Octopus cards issued in Hong Kong since their launch in 1997: 21m