Auckland Transport is sticking with a rule that freezes money on Hop cards if it is not used between transactions within two months.
The Herald has received numerous complaints about the little-known rule that can be fixed by contacting the council's transport agency.
Readers have reported transport cards work for years in overseas cities and described the Hop card rule as "third world" and a "rip off".
Auckland transport seriously need to get with the times
Grey Power is also furious about the rule, with national president Tom O'Connor calling it "another kick in the guts" for the elderly.
He said people over 65 already need to buy a $10 Hop card and top it up with $5 to be able to travel free on off-peak times in Auckland and he did not like the idea of money being taken from vulnerable elderly.
An Auckland Transport spokesman said there were no plans to change the rule that if a Hop card remains inactive for a 60-day period the balance is cancelled - although people are still entitled to the unused money.
He said the main reason for the 60-day tag on limit was to ensure the amount of data held does not cause the tagging system to slow down, as it has to search the database when each card is tagged on. The aim is to keep the tagging time to under 400 milliseconds.
"If a transaction expires the customer can call us and we will reinstate the money.
"The money from expired top ups is always available to the customer, and there is no limit to the number of times the money can be reinstated," the spokesman said.
"Auckland Transport proactively emails customers when the 60-day limit is approaching to let them know that the top up will expire, and to remember to tag on. It also explains that if the customer does not wish to travel straight away, to let us know when they do so that we can ensure their top up is available to them," the spokesman said.
He said the rule applied only to online top-ups, not top-up machines or as an automatic top-up. Online top ups account for 15 per cent of top ups.
Money on a Hop card will only become invalid if the card remains unused for six years.
Since May last year and April this year, up to $342,000 worth of transactions has been sitting with Auckland Transport at some point, including money that was reinstated.
Reader feedback on the Hop card rule
I was caught out twice by not using the AT hop card within the first two months of loading the card. A trip to Britomart main office, twice, sorted it out and the $20 was put back onto my card both times. I have now become familiar with the train/bus system and use it regularly.
I bought two HOP cards and loaded $$ on them for my brother and sister-in-law to use when they visit from Australia. It was September last year when they used them last. One has $10 on it, the other has $25.96. So this means each time they come over, they will have to purchase a new card to start all over again; what a rip-off by AT for frequent visitors to the city! Sounds like a third-world system to me!
I travel a lot and have transport cards for London, Sydney , Melbourne and Singapore and I can use these cards when I am in the country with no fear that it won't work - even months/years later. Auckland transport seriously need to get with the times.
Yes I have been caught out after been overseas on a long holiday. This is absolutely ridiculous - only 60 days.