A woman who passed away eight years ago has been sent a letter telling her she needs an AT Hop card, upsetting her pensioner son.

Auckland Transport says it has received other complaints about the issue and is urgently reviewing its database management.

Last week, Kevin Rowntree, 76, received the letter from Auckland Transport intended for his mother, Iris, because he was her power of attorney. She died eight years ago, aged 91.

The city's transport agency has been running a seven-week campaign to move the 90,000 people with SuperGold cards who use public transport in the region on to AT Hop cards following a mandate from Parliament in December.

Advertisement

"I went and got the mail from the mailbox and there was this letter for my mum ... I got a bit uptight," Mr Rowntree said. "I then rang Auckland Transport to find out what the hell was going on and why were they hassling me about my mother who passed on in 2008.

"The joker I was talking to, he indicated he couldn't tell me where the addresses on the mailout came from."

Mr Rowntree told the call-taker that he would like a letter of apology but he still has not received one.

The retiree, who lives in Glenfield with his wife Faye, said he wanted the agency to acknowledge the mistake and that it had caused him pain.

Following Herald inquires, Auckland Transport's customer experience manager Peter Paton offered the agency's sincere apologies for any distress caused to family or friends.

"I will contact Kevin to apologise to him personally and we have taken urgent steps to review our database management."

Mr Paton said people who received mail about the switch-over came from a database of approximately 35,000 people who "have applied for senior citizen discounts for public transport over recent years" including the period before Auckland Transport was established.

He confirmed the agency had received four complaints and had been asked to update details for 29 other people.

Kevin Rowntree's mother Iris Rowntree died eight years ago. Photo / Nick Reed
Kevin Rowntree's mother Iris Rowntree died eight years ago. Photo / Nick Reed

Since reporting on the transition on Friday, the Herald has received dozens of calls and emails from senior citizens frustrated about the process. Complaints included:

• The need for Government-issued photo ID even though some don't have passports or drivers licences;

• Long queues in chilly customer service centres;

• Five working days for the concession to be loaded;

• No information for anyone outside of Auckland;

• Confusing processes for people not familiar with computers and the need for an email address.

Gold card reprieve

Seniors who have a SuperGold card but haven't switched to an AT Hop card will still get their free public transport in Auckland for a month after the official deadline of July 1.

But Auckland Transport doesn't want anyone knowing that.

In correspondence seen by the Herald, the head of AT Metro, Mark Lambert, confirmed there would be a discretion period throughout July when transport operators would be advised to allow customers without an AT Hop card but with a SuperGold card on to trains, buses and ferries.

As well, the process for transitioning to the Hop card would be retained until the end of the month.

AT spokesman Mark Hannan said it would be disappointing if this newspaper printed this information because "that misses the point of having a deadline".

Customer experience manager Peter Paton said: "For obvious reasons we will not be discussing any possible grace period."