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939 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 198851 2-Mar-2009 22:59
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I am not a user but was surprised the other day when a friend purchased one to find that the card costs $10 itself (hardly an accurate reflection of the cost of the production IMHO) and each time it's loaded, one is charged 25C.
is it just more, or does it seem all places for any kind of electronic cards seem to over charge for them?

although with the exception of westpac has been nice to me giving me a free replacement eftpos card each, but then again that is exactly as I think they should do so anyway




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  Reply # 198858 2-Mar-2009 23:24
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Most banks seem to replace Eftpos cards free if they get damaged, except Kiwibank (though there it was only $5 and their cards last very well)

The system seems to be flawed from concept point, I can't "click" somone else on to the bus, how do children use it, how do you get a "daily" pass? and heavens forbid if I forget to "tag off" or happen to miss the reader as I leave the bus.

I really don't like the "paying to topup" system either especially as they are no doubt earning interest on my prepaid cash, I wanted to put $10 on to my card the other day so handed over the $10+fee, no they could not do that, The "fee" has to get deducted from the topup amount. grrr.

The poor bus drivers can't possibly be fond of them, they have a tiny weeny little dim touchscreen and make bubbling noises randomly, I think they took the "aquatic" theme a bit too far. Not to mention the readers that play "don't forget to tag off", "don't forget to tag off", "don't forget to tag off" as ten people enter the bus.

Snapper is a clone of the Korean T-Money system made by Korea Smart Card, They run on a form of Java apparently.

I have the feeder unit and two cards, "Fush" and "Fiss" :-P, I had a lot of problems getting it to work initially, driver installers seem to be very funky, I ripped the installer to shreds and installed the RFID reader drivers and ActiveX control manually and had no more problems.

As for the Newlands system, it worked well, just state where you want to go, how many tickets etc and put your wallet on the machine, Done!

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  Reply # 200585 11-Mar-2009 12:40
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Hi- Friendly Snapper CEO here.

I posted a *long* reply to this thread yesterday, but it hasn't turned up. Possibly a fault between seat and keyboard.

I will post the same again but wondering if there is a way to recover the post from yesterday before I do so again!

Cheers

Miki

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  Reply # 200598 11-Mar-2009 13:18
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mikman: Possibly a fault between seat and keyboard.i


This does not bode well for confidence in the technical know-how of the Snapper overlords.  Still, happens to us all at some point or another. Wink

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  Reply # 200599 11-Mar-2009 13:20
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Better to tell it like it is rather than fudging it :)

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  Reply # 200603 11-Mar-2009 13:33
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Well the Wellington trains already have a zone based system for thier paper tickets - similar to tbe Buses so just charge in a similar way to the Bus ie one zone is $X and so on. Tagging on and off works on the London underground when the barriers are left open. You get charged lots of money if you dont tag off, which is a good incentive to remember.

I'm still waiting for a daytripper ticket to be either charged to the card or a fare cap on daily spend on the buses. In London at least, you can never spend more than the price of a day ticket as it gets capped.
Loading fees are crap to be honest. Here let me charge you 25c to put money into "our" account. What a joke. If you spend the money on the bus, it just changes bank acoount so to speak, as already mentioned, NZ bus own the snapper system... Anyway snapper rant over (again!)

Anyone if anyone wants to get one on the cheap, one slightly used snapper card is for sale, pick up CBD Wellington, Mid May :o]

cheers

Knoydart

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  Reply # 200622 11-Mar-2009 14:52
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Hi

Thanks for your interest in Snapper - it's good to see the comments, good and bad.
I'll answer what i can, and happy to talk more. I would be happy to have a Geekzone CEO session if there is any interest. Anyway in no particular order here we go
1. Card costs - the cards used by Snapper are pretty sophisticated. They have microcontrollers, antennas, RF components etc etc. They are much more sophisticated than a standard mag strip card. I can tell you that at a sell cost of $10 per card we make no money - $10  just covers the cost of the card and the cost of distribution. 
2. Reload costs - the bulk of the 25cents for each reload transaction goes to the retailer as a commission to cover costs to them. Vodafone and Telecom have a different model where they absorb this as part of their per minute rates. i am interested in people's views about whether they would want to see it absorbed this way in bus fares or made transparent as we have here. Which gets me onto the business model for Snapper...
3. Snapper is a transaction based business - we only make money if we are successful in facilitating lots of transactions. It's a basic infrastructure business case. We charge operators a transaction fee and succeed only if we are brilliant at growing transactions in Public Transport and Retail. I can tell you that its not an easy business case and takes a decent chunk of investment to make it work - just like any other infrastructure business.
4. We are a standalone business. We are not owned by NZBUS and therefore have no control of fares. NZBUS is one of our customers. While we are both owned by Infratil we have very much an arms length relationship - separate board, separate management, no common directors and commercial arrangements between us. We do business with other Public Transport operators and have to have integrity with all our relationships.
5. The USB feeder - I am acutely aware of the issues with this device and am looking for help to resolve them. Direct message me if you think you can help us solve this.
6. Passes, age enablement, concessions - these are on our roadmap and in various stages of testing and development. We will be piloting some functions soon. I'll be asking for people to test / try and break them - watch this space as I'll be asking here!
7. The Korean-NZ connection- Snapper is more than a clone of T-Money. It is T-Money localised for NZ. We use the same technology - to the point of settling transactions in Korea daily. We combine this with great NZ capability from Eyede, Unisys, ANZ National, CHS and HTS to put it all together. 
8. We're in fast growth mode - we've only been in the market since mid last year and have 50,000 card holders and are processing 700,000 transactions per month. It's a tiger by the tail and really exciting. We have a heap to do as well - new operators, new capability, getting our business scaling better - and all in the service of our customers. To be frank we have some maturing to do - we've grown really fast and my focus is getting some basic discipline in place while still keeping us agile. It's a good challenge to have!
I don't mean this to be an advertorial - hit me with your questions and comments on this thread and I'll answer the best that I can
Cheers
Miki
CEOSnapper

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  Reply # 200624 11-Mar-2009 14:59
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A few more questions from the thread
1.  it is possible to pay for someone else on the bus - ask the driver before you tag on and they can add a number of adults and kids and charge them to your Snapper
2. It is possible to go into debit with your Snapper - if you have enough to board the bus (we look for the minimum fare) but not enough to cover the entire trip cost when you tag off we pick up the difference the next time you board (assuming you reload). We're looking at ways to improve the notification regarding low balance and have a solution that we are testing with customers now.
3. The card is the master - that means we do have delays when processing transactions from a bus (they only get picked up when the return to the depot). Always on data would be a great addition to the solution - Telcos pricing willing.
Cheers
Miki
CEOSnapper

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  Reply # 200639 11-Mar-2009 15:47
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mikman:  We're looking at ways to improve the notification regarding low balance and have a solution that we are testing with customers now.


Recently the low balance email warning arrived about 4 days after the account dropped to the previous trigger level. I assume that was a fault. Have you considered allowing the user to set the lower limit before the warning?

I've witnessed a stream of people leaving a bus assuming that they'd tagged off but the reader didn't appear to be operating. Does your system pick up faults like this or is it up to individual users to monitor their cards?

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Biddle Corp
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  Reply # 200662 11-Mar-2009 17:49
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Do all the buses have GPS now Miki or do the drivers still have to swipe their cards to indicate the zone the bus is in?

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  Reply # 200663 11-Mar-2009 17:50
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@Bung
Thanks for the comment.
We are kicking off a redesign of the site - configurable alerts (amongst other things) are on our hitlist. Incidentally we have an interesting alert challenge - our data arrives in non-real time so I am looking at fuzzy ways of working out when the low balance threshold hits - alerts are only useful if they are timely and accurate and our current process means that it may be too late once the transactions are settled.
In terms of the validators - the drivers are informed when the readers aren't operating. There's no real time connection back to the management platform but we are looking at this now. In terms of the customers they will either be informed when they board the bus of the issue and directed to use a validator that does work. Alternatively if the system is not operable at all the bus will be called in. Genuine card failures come back to us (sometimes it can be the card not the reader) and we replace.


Cheers


Miki

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  Reply # 200665 11-Mar-2009 18:00
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sbiddle: Do all the buses have GPS now Miki or do the drivers still have to swipe their cards to indicate the zone the bus is in?

All the Go Wellington buses have GPS - it's a pretty good platform to use for Real Time Information as well. And to andwer your next question - there is a tender under release from GWRC so can't say any more than that !



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  Reply # 200673 11-Mar-2009 18:47
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As the OP of this thread I guess my main surprise was the 25c topup charge. But having read through this thread and the CEO's comments I can see the logic.

To summarise what I understand

- in Wellington newsagents et all received commissions for selling bus tickets (no idea of the amount).  I do recall reading earlier on in the Snapper deployment newsagents complaining that this line of revenue was going to decrease or disappear with the Snapper card

- the 25c is an attempt to molify them but from what I can see, it's pretty trivial

- the 25% savings in bus fare by using the Snapper card more than makes up for the 25c. I guess for me it was the surprise factor.

- Most of the stored value cards I have encountered for transport (HK MTR, San Francisco BART, London Underground) do not charge for topping up. But then their's are closed systems. You purchase tickets in the stations only but can use them (well certainly the HK MTR) them all over Hong Kong; not only on trains, buses and ferries but at 7-11, vending machines etc.

Now it would be good if Snapper could be extended to trains but I guess that is what the current negotiations are all about. Also I read that there might be issues with the RFP in Auckland for a Stored Value Card. Infratil are bidding but the decision could be a fait accompli with another vendor having already been chosen.

Anyway it's good to get the information from the horse's mouth to to speak!




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  Reply # 200849 12-Mar-2009 16:43
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My 10 cents worth...I've used snapper a little since the beginning, and kept a watchful eye on the transaction lists as I didn't quite trust it. There was one charge which I queried, $5 to go from Newtown to the Stadium, which was the last stop - no way could it have been that much. The money was (eventually) refunded to my bank account.

My other problem is remembering to tag off, as it's annoying to pay way over the odds if you forget. Would probably be easier to remember if I was a more regular user.

My son  has used snapper more, but hates it. He is always getting caught in the mornings with not enough money on the snapper, and has to get off the bus and is late for work. I kept a watchful eye on his transaction list too, and it suddenly stopped recording any info in mid-november, until mid-feb. He was topping up his card at a couple of places on the terrace which never turned up on the transaction list, though his card seemed to work OK. However, it means the alerts are useless. I complained and all they could offer was that he take his card in there and they'd check it and replace it if it was faulty. He didn't want to give up his lunchtime to do that.

The next problem I have is the vista issues. I've loaded the software for the reader on quite a few xp pcs here at work, and a pc at home with no issues. Last night I spent a very frustrating evening trying to load it on a vista laptop,  having to click on "elevate" and then "allow" about 5-10 times for each screen before it would move me on. Once I eventually got it loaded, I tried to top up with my credit card, with the same issues. The first couple of times (afer all the elevate and allows each time) it said it hadn't topped up but that I could have another go without retyping my visa credentials. Finally it got there, told me it had topped up with $20. I then did a quick balance on the card and it said it had $40 on it. I won't be able to check my visa until the transaction comes through to see how much it did top up. Howver, unless there is a solution to the elevate/allow issue then it is way too painful to use the snapper feeder at home. It is not a case of clicking once or twice, it is multiple times each time you click next. This is totally unacceptable, so snapper CEO could we have your comments on this and can you please address the problem asap?

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  Reply # 201551 17-Mar-2009 08:54
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lchiu7: 

- in Wellington newsagents et all received commissions for selling bus tickets (no idea of the amount).  I do recall reading earlier on in the Snapper deployment newsagents complaining that this line of revenue was going to decrease or disappear with the Snapper card

- the 25c is an attempt to molify them but from what I can see, it's pretty trivial

- the 25% savings in bus fare by using the Snapper card more than makes up for the 25c. I guess for me it was the surprise factor.

- Most of the stored value cards I have encountered for transport (HK MTR, San Francisco BART, London Underground) do not charge for topping up. But then their's are closed systems. You purchase tickets in the stations only but can use them (well certainly the HK MTR) them all over Hong Kong; not only on trains, buses and ferries but at 7-11, vending machines etc.

Now it would be good if Snapper could be extended to trains but I guess that is what the current negotiations are all about. Also I read that there might be issues with the RFP in Auckland for a Stored Value Card. Infratil are bidding but the decision could be a fait accompli with another vendor having already been chosen.

@lchiu7
Thanks for kicking off the thread!
In terms of the 25cents - we do have to offer the retailers something for their time.  There was a separate issue with the Retailers at launch where they thought there was less value for them through Snapper than the previous 10 trip tickets. I've been pleasantly surprised of late to have some of the original Retailers who were fairly strident in their views on Snapper now telling us it is a good thing for their business - and they know it will get even better as we introduce more products.
I agree with your comments on other cities - most are closed (and you don't own your card). 
I couldn't comment on Auckland without breaching the tender rules!
Cheers
Miki


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