Express Transit Card changed without warning

The adoption of OMNY by the New York MTA has been a game changer. Just a quick tap of my Apple Watch to the reader and I can enter the subway or board a bus without having to fumble for a fare card, a credit card or even my phone. Today, however, I noticed while returning from an appointment that it was my Apple Card that had been billed and not my usual credit card. A quick check of settings revealed that for some inexplicable reason, my express transit card had been switched, both on my iPhone and on my Apple Watch. That’s not acceptable. I have a reduced fare account and the MTA allows linking it to only one credit card at a time. As a result, I was charged full fare, round trip, instead of half fare. It’s fortunate that I noticed the error after only two trips, as the fares add up fast.

I don’t have any recourse on this error, other than to switch the settings back. Ironically, I need to use Touch ID and in the case of my watch, a pass code to change the card back to what it was. Apple, on the other hand, changed it without my permission or any notification at all. I’m sure there was a reason why the switch occurred, most likely from a software bug. I can’t exactly request a refund from the MTA as the error wasn’t their fault. I can’t dispute the charge, as the charge was correct, given the card used. In an ideal world, Apple would apologize, refund the difference and fix the bug that caused the switch. The best I can do is to submit feedback to Apple and hope this never happens again. I’ll also have to be more vigilant in the future.


What makes you think it was Apple and not the MTA?

Even if the MTA had some way to circumvent the security on my Apple Watch and on my iPhone, changing the setting for which credit card is billed, it would be Apple’s fault for making it possible for the MTA to do so without my permission. Believe me, I’d much rather blame the MTA. I could appeal the charge if it was the MTA’s fault. The ability of a retailer - any retailer - to change settings on a watch or phone would be a colossal breach of security that would leave the Apple Wallet open to hackers.

I think I’d more believe that there was some sort of glitch in Apple Pay with your default card and the phone switched the express pay setting to another card. I would hope in that situation, though, that there would be a notification.

3 posts were split to a new topic: Can’t set a card in Wallet to Express Payment

I know that it’s hard to believe but the MTA’s telephone help/support line is surprisingly accessible and helpful. they can switch cards for you, They said that this switch can’t be done online. Good luck.

London calling here. We have Express Transit for use on TfL (Transport for London) services (tube/train/buses/trams/etc).

If there’s any glitch with the main credit/debit card, it might auto-change onto another card, unfortunately without obvious warnings. While it gets you through the turnstiles and on with your journey without being turned away by doing so (and if busy, causing a queue held-up behind you in peak hours!), I agree that it’s not a great ‘feature’ to do this, but what can you do? :person_shrugging:

AFAIUI, it tends to happen when something like the expiry date hits on the ET card being used, and/or you’re issued a new card with/without the 16-digit card number or CVV changing. And even though Apple Pay auto-updates new card details anyway, it can flick on to another card in your Apple Wallet.

My understanding it’s rare, but all you can do is keep a tabs on it periodically.

The problem is not that @SteveLinNYC wants to change the card registered with OMNY for the discounted rate.

The problem is that the phone provided the wrong card when tapped. That’s clearly a matter of the iPhone’s wallet configuration. I can’t imagine any mechanism where OMNY even could change this, much less why they would want to.

Assuming there wasn’t a mistaken/forgotten change to the wallet configuration, this sounds very much like an iOS bug. I’m just glad it was caught after only two trips and not after many more.

Actually that is, if I’ve understood the situation correctly, almost what the person at the other end of the OMNY phone line did for me. I was using my phone for entry at the Senior rate, and wanted to switch to an Apple Watch, Can’t hurt to try.

Yes, but that’s different. Apple Pay passes device-specific account numbers (DANs) instead of your card number. Your watch and phone have different DANs for the same card.

So if you want to switch your discount from the phone to the watch, you would have to get OMNY involved, because as far as their system can tell, it is a different card.

But that’s not the OP’s question. He is reporting that the configuration on his phone and watch changed, such that a different card was being used for the Express Transit functionality. And changing it back solved the problem.

Were you able to get it changed back?

As mentioned in the original post:

So, the answer would be “yes”.

Thanks. Wasn’t obvious from your wording whether you’d tried and succeeded.

Just to be clear, I am simply reading and commenting here. @SteveLinNYC is the one who (I assume) tried and succeeded.

Sorry about the delay in responding. Yes, I was able to switch the transit card back, but I had to do so manually in both the settings for my iPhone and Apple Watch. jimthing in London suggested that Apple defaults to your Apple Card if for any reason, the charge doesn’t go through. That might have saved me a few seconds of trying to use the actual credit card I’d registered with the MTA, but it should’ve been my choice. At the minimum, I should’ve been warned that my transit card couldn’t be used.

At first, I was perturbed that the watch didn’t automatically switch back to my regular transit card, but there’s actually a very good reason for it not to. Free transfers are based on the card used, so I would have been charged twice had the card automatically switched back.

Apple has some work to do to make tap-to-pay for transit run more smoothly. The MTA could help too, but allowing more than one credit card to be registered at a time.

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