Honestly, the Dutch public transport card, the OV-chipkaart, is not so bad. But it’s definitely not good either. The 7.5 Euro non-refundable card fee is a bloody rip-off. The card design and quality are barely satisfying (considering you just paid €7.5 to get one). Most importantly, it leaves you in constant pressure of forgetting to swipe in/out in a journey.
An incomplete travel history will cost you considerably more than the normal price. But it’s so easy to miss a check-in/out, that everyone does it from time to time. Some stations don’t have gate machines to enforce a swipe-out, making it extra easy to forget. Not to mention the ticketing machines sometimes don’t work fine, and you may miss a swipe without even noticing.
Fortunately, despite the public announcement reminder onboard, they have other measures to save you from this unnecessary loss. You can ask for a refund if you find an incomplete journey in your transaction history. You can even set up an automatic alert for this. Now that’s fair.
Many people don’t know (or care) about this. Hmm, wait till they get bankrupted by their flimsy little travelcard.
Here’s how to set up the alert, and get a refund (procedures and links subject to change, please search for newest information if the following doesn’t work):
Click here to set up the alert. Fill in the required information and you’re good to go.
When it detects a missing swipe from your card, you’ll get an email alert with a link to apply for a refund.
You can look up the transaction history of your anonymous OV-chipkaart here. How to understand it: it deducts the whole price for the route when you swipe in, and add the over-charged amount back when you check out.
When you find an incomplete travel history, you can apply for a refund.
You will be asked to fill in the start and end position of your journey. Then it calculates the amount of refund.
You’ll need to find an OV-chipkaart service machine to collect this refund, just like how you collect an online top-up, which is not convenient at all.
For fellow EUR students, there’s a OV-chipkaart service point in Polak building, next to the main entrance. If not sure, it looks like this:
It sounds almost too troublesome for many people to care about it. But you need to do it, and you need to do it now. I was very cautious to not miss one swipe with my card at first, yet it somehow still managed to surprise me with an incomplete trip the second day after I bought it. Imagine you miss a swipe in a train station, and you could be charged for the whole route.
It’s a digital world and many major cities have brought their public transportation cards to mobile phones. It’s both convenient and environment-friendly. Contactless payment is a thing now. Singapore and London, for example, accept Visa/MasterCard contactless cards for public transport. While Japanese national travelcard partnered with Apple Pay and Google Pay to issue digital cards on smartphones. I just hope our open-minded Dutch friends can consider bringing their beloved OV-chipkaart to the digital era as well.