Apple Pay Express Transit Users in NYC Reportedly Being Charged Just for Going Near Tap-and-Pay Readers

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Apr 12, 2001
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Some travelers on the New York City subway who have enabled Apple's Express Transit feature on their iPhones are reportedly being hit with unintentional MTA charges when they walk near the tap-and-go fare readers.

Image credit: PRNewsfoto/OMNY

Express Transit is an Apple Pay feature that allows users to pay fares with a swipe of their iPhone or Apple Watch at the turnstile without having to unlock their device first with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode.

But according to the New York Post, the OMNY tap-and-go fare readers that the MTA installed have been taking charges from some commuters when they used contactless cards and their iPhones were pocketed or in a purse.
Megan Bagg, 29, of SoHo, told The Post she has been charged twice -- despite having her phone in her bag.

"It was ridiculous. My phone was in my purse near my hip," she said.

Bagg said she at first blamed the charge on her contactless credit card -- and even called the bank to complain -- until the second charge occurred when it wasn't on her person.

"I've been keeping my purse far from the thing when I go through the turnstile," she said.
Another subway user told The Post that he had had a similar experience swiping in with his MetroCard at Grand Central Terminal when his iPhone was in his pocket, and only noticed the doubled-up charge when later reviewing their bank statement.

MTA confirmed to the paper that "about 30 customers" had complained about unintended charges when the Express Transit feature of their iPhones is activated. The authority said it is working with Apple on a solution to address "the issue of unintended taps."

Apple says it has not had the issue in other cities where the Express Transit feature is available, so the problem seems to be down to the hypersensitivity of the NYC subway's tap-and-go readers. If you're a NYC subway user and you're concerned about being hit by bogus charges on your iPhone when paying with a card, you can turn off Express Transit until the issue with the terminals is fixed.

Article Link: Apple Pay Express Transit Users in NYC Reportedly Being Charged Just for Going Near Tap-and-Pay Readers
 
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jarman92

macrumors 6502a
Nov 13, 2014
525
1,004
I used Express Transit twice in December, worked perfectly.. no additional transactions. Oddly, I received a refund for both of them a couple days ago. No idea why, though I now wonder if they're proactively giving refunds for people who used OMNY terminals that have been deemed to be hyper sensitive.
SAME! Came here to see if anyone said the same thing haha
 
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dz5b609

macrumors regular
Mar 22, 2019
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Weird story, the range on NFC really isn't far enough (we're talking 6 inches tops in ideal circumstances ie not in a bag) to be on mistake, so unless these people were hanging on terminals or walking right past them (both of which are weird things to be doing) without going in there's something else going on.
 
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zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
5,722
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Florida, USA
I'm completely unsurprised this is happening.

Look at the photo in the post. Notice that the readers are right around hip height.

If your phone is in your pocket and you are EXITING the station (you exit and enter through the same turnstiles) it's conceivable that the phone in your pocket might brush right up against that terminal when you walk out.

This could also hit NFC-enabled credit cards in your wallet if your wallet brushes past the terminal so it's not just an Apple problem.

One potential way to reduce the issue is for the turnstile to disable the reader for five seconds whenever someone exits.
 
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RobNYC

macrumors 6502a
May 28, 2008
512
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New York, NY
People actually expected the MTA to pull something off that works? LMAO
It's a pilot program. The whole purpose of only rolling it out to a small number of stations is to work out stuff like this.
- - Post merged: - -

Weird story, the range on NFC really isn't far enough (we're talking 6 inches tops in ideal circumstances ie not in a bag) to be on mistake, so unless these people were hanging on terminals or walking right past them (both of which are weird things to be doing) without going in there's something else going on.
It said they were charged a second time on their phones while going through the ternimals using a credit card cap so it seems they were close enough.
 
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nicho

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Feb 15, 2008
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If your phone is in your pocket and you are EXITING the station (you exit and enter through the same turnstiles) it's conceivable that the phone in your pocket might brush right up against that terminal when you walk out.
Also conceivable you could pay for someone else's journey to the left of you as you enter.
 

esternberg387

macrumors newbie
Jul 4, 2010
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I used Express Transit twice in December, worked perfectly.. no additional transactions. Oddly, I received a refund for both of them a couple days ago. No idea why, though I now wonder if they're proactively giving refunds for people who used OMNY terminals that have been deemed to be hyper sensitive.
Did you use it on a Friday? They did this early in the summer and then again December - if you used a MasterCard, MasterCard refunded up to two trips per Friday as a promotion for OMNY being turned on at new stations.
 

confirmed

macrumors regular
Dec 30, 2001
121
47
New York, NY
Did you use it on a Friday? They did this early in the summer and then again December - if you used a MasterCard, MasterCard refunded up to two trips per Friday as a promotion for OMNY being turned on at new stations.
It was on a Friday! And with the Apple Card (Mastercard). I had no idea...

In that case, I guess all I can say is I was fortunate enough to not be affected by this issue. I do wonder if it's specific terminals or if it's specific to how or where people are holding their phones (e.g. in a purse held, held on one's right arm as they're using that hand to swipe with their traditional MetroCard"). If that's the case, one might wonder if this issue will go away as the rollout completes and people with an Express Transit capable device use that as their sole method. This could also explain why we haven't seen similar reports in other transit deployments, as I believe those were fully rolled out before they went live.
 

Westside guy

macrumors 603
Oct 15, 2003
5,432
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The soggy side of the Pacific NW
Weird story, the range on NFC really isn't far enough (we're talking 6 inches tops in ideal circumstances ie not in a bag) to be on mistake,
The short range is really only “enforced” if the reader is built on spec power-wise. Although usually the worry in this regard is criminals rather than legitimate equipment.

But this could very well turn out to be a completely different issue, nothing to do with actually physically reading the pass multiple times. My money is on a software issue inadvertently triggering multiple charges under some set of circumstances.
 
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acblue94

macrumors 6502
Jul 26, 2011
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509
New York, NY.



Some travelers on the New York City subway who have enabled Apple's Express Transit feature on their iPhones are reportedly being hit with unintentional MTA charges when they walk near the tap-and-go fare readers.


Image credit: PRNewsfoto/OMNY

Express Transit is an Apple Pay feature that allows users to pay fares with a swipe of their iPhone or Apple Watch at the turnstile without having to unlock their device first with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode.

But according to the New York Post, the OMNY tap-and-go fare readers that the MTA installed have been taking charges from some commuters when they used contactless cards and their iPhones were pocketed or in a purse.
Another subway user told The Post that he had had a similar experience swiping in with his MetroCard at Grand Central Terminal when his iPhone was in his pocket, and only noticed the doubled-up charge when later reviewing their bank statement.

MTA confirmed to the paper that "about 30 customers" had complained about unintended charges when the Express Transit feature of their iPhones is activated. The authority said it is working with Apple on a solution to address "the issue of unintended taps."

Apple says it has not had the issue in other cities where the Express Transit feature is available, so the problem seems to be down to the hypersensitivity of the NYC subway's tap-and-go readers. If you're a NYC subway user and you're concerned about being hit by bogus charges on your iPhone when paying with a card, you can turn off Express Transit until the issue with the terminals is fixed.

Article Link: Apple Pay Express Transit Users in NYC Reportedly Being Charged Just for Going Near Tap-and-Pay Readers
I call BS. This works great. Today I tried using my watch that was under my coat sleeve and it didn’t work because it was blocked. Then moved the sleeve out the way and it worked perfectly. No way the NFC is having the signal from a phone in a purse.
 

lederermc

macrumors 6502a
Sep 30, 2014
551
481
Seattle
This is not rocket science... if have an iPhone with Express Transit turned on and you walk near a gate it's going to let you in. That's what it's suppose to do. If you intend on using a transit card then this OPTION should be turned off on your phone.
 

Analog Kid

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2003
4,857
2,941
Hmm... Relying on the vendor equipment to ensure the vendor doesn’t take more money from me than they should? I’m shocked to see problems have developed...
 

Optheduim

macrumors regular
Jun 9, 2011
138
162
NYC
I'm completely unsurprised this is happening.

Look at the photo in the post. Notice that the readers are right around hip height.

If your phone is in your pocket and you are EXITING the station (you exit and enter through the same turnstiles) it's conceivable that the phone in your pocket might brush right up against that terminal when you walk out.

This could also hit NFC-enabled credit cards in your wallet if your wallet brushes past the terminal so it's not just an Apple problem.

One potential way to reduce the issue is for the turnstile to disable the reader for five seconds whenever someone exits.
FIVE SECONDS!?!?!? Clearly you don’t live in NYC. We have something here called a New York Minute!

That being said I’ve been using Apple’s Express Transit (with my watch) in NYC and just recently in London, UK— Love the technology! Hopefully Apple and MTA find resolve soon before this freaks out New Yorkers!
 

subjonas

macrumors 68020
Feb 10, 2014
2,282
1,959
Wow I’d never allow my phone to be charged without authentication. That leaves it completely open to exploitation or accidental charges, as exemplified here. I’d think it would be easy enough to just put my thumb on my Touch ID button as I walk through, even without taking the phone out of my pocket.
 
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tmiw

macrumors 68020
Jun 26, 2007
2,153
475
San Diego, CA
Why is the US so much behind on contactless payment? Or is this something else?
Well, yes, but the issue discussed in OP is something different. Either the readers being way too sensitive and/or people not expecting Express Transit to work how it does.

On that note, I'm kinda surprised people haven't freaked out more about the latest contactless cards. We have a history of being very reluctant to use the technology due to security fears, after all.