TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

Blink let me down BIG TIME today

Discussion in 'Charging Standards and Infrastructure' started by wraithnot, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. wraithnot

    wraithnot Model S VIN #5785

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2012
    Messages:
    475
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #1 wraithnot, Dec 22, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
    If you plan to use a Blink charger in the next few days and don't already have a Blink card, you should be aware that 1) Blink has some sort of issue shipping their cards which is causing delays and 2) their system to allow you to charge without a card is currently down due to a system upgrade.


    Why anyone with half a brain would choose an extremely busy travel time such as the weekend before Christmas to shut down their system that enables electric vehicle road trips for a system upgrade is beyond me. But what I find completely inexcusable is the fact that they didn't build in any sort of over ride mechanism so users can charge their cars if Blink's central servers are off line. I thought I was well prepared for my trip, but my intended charge spot and primary backup happened to be in the Blink network and were thus unusable to me when I needed them. Luckily my secondary backup, the 70 amp charge point J 1772 in Picacho peak, was working or there is a 50/50 chance I would have needed a tow truck today.


    In in addition to the system wide issues, the touch screens on at least two of the blink chargers were broken and have been that way for many months according to checkins on Plugshare. Basically you should never count on a Blink charger being functional when you really need it.
     
  2. cwerdna

    cwerdna Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Messages:
    1,033
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, CA
    #2 cwerdna, Dec 22, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
    They sent out a "Blink Network - Planned Maintenance" email on 12/18/13 saying:
    That said, I've never used their equipment once and other EV drivers, esp. those on MyNissanLeaf who've had a Leaf for awhile can tell you their network and sucks and attest to the part I bolded.

    FWIW, Ecotality (behind Blink) went bankrupt and the company that bought them out doesn't look to be in good financial shape either. See My Nissan Leaf Forum View topic - 9/17/13: ECOtality files for bankrupcy and gets Nissan loan and CCGI Income Statement | CAR CHARGING GROUP Stock - Yahoo! Finance. Remember, the numbers at Yahoo Finance are in thousands. Doesn't seem like generating only $89K in revenue (sales) but losing upwards of $7.9 million in the process last quarter is a sustainable model.
     
  3. swegman

    swegman Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    962
    I used their charger once at a Whole Foods store in Rockville MD with success. They did send out a notice last week saying the chargers would only work with the Blink InCard while they did system upgrades. I believe they were purchased by another company and they were doing upgrades to integrate the two systems into one. But I agree, just before Xmas was not the best time to do the upgrades.
     
  4. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Messages:
    12,756
    Location:
    Texas
    Someone obviously doesn't understand the EV charger customer base. They are treating it like a 9-5 office where they are mostly shut down for the holiday season. This is like shutting down a swimming pool in July. That said, although I have a Blink card I've never used it. Should the new company start charging to carry the card I'll discontinue the membership.
     
  5. wraithnot

    wraithnot Model S VIN #5785

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2012
    Messages:
    475
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    I got a "welcome to the Blink Network" email when I signed up for the Blink card. But I never got any notification about the service interruption. A search of my Gmail InBox confirms this.

    The representative I talked to on the phone was also unapologetic and not very helpful and essentially said I was out of luck. When I asked for help with finding some way to avoid having the car towed, she was able to find an alternative. I then asked what amperage the charger at the suggested alternative location was and she replied that it was 12 amps. When I said that wasn't fast enough, she found another location. This time she said her "screen" didn't tell her what the amperage was. I had better information with the Plugshare app, recargo app, and chargepoint app than a representative from an EV charging company had at her work computer. She also half heartedly read a scripted line that started "thank you for using the Blink Network" after I indicated I had a backup plan that didn't involve any Blink chargers.

    Based on this incident and other things I've read, I've concluded that the public EV charging industry is either grossly incompetent or simply dosn't care about their users. Tesla's biggest advantage isn't just that they make best EV by leaps and bounds- they also have a dramatically better charging infrasture and actually seem to care about their users.
     
  6. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Messages:
    12,756
    Location:
    Texas
    No question about that.
     
  7. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2012
    Messages:
    1,739
    Location:
    Plano, TX
    I have used Blink chargers many times and every time I dread wondering how that stupid screen interface is going to let me down. I have complained so many times about non-responsive screens to blanks screens to over responsive screens !! There were a few instances where entering the zipcode (a stupid requirement in the first place) would be almost impossible with your key presses completely not matching with what the system interprets. Very very frustrating. The good thing after many many complaints they have removed the need to enter zipcode.

    And it has been quite reliable - atleast the ones I infrequent - the last few months.

    Horrible or not, without the Blinks here in the DFW area I would have been forced to abandon my Leaf since my commute increased from 5 to 70 miles earlier this year. Not that I charge using public Blinks everyday. I have only charged about a dozen times this year but those instances were quite key in giving me the confidence that I can get home any day without needing a tow.
     
  8. gaswalla

    gaswalla P4201/85/airsusp/pano/19i

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2012
    Messages:
    1,200
    Location:
    San Diego
    I'm a prior LEAF owner.... Leaf owners are used to compromising and often being disappointed - Blink works for this group.. Tesla owners expect reliability, high customer service, and minimal inconveniences... Blink will let Tesla owners down.. The Blinks I have used charge at 200v/24 amps... Amps lowered due to fear of melting the charge port.. That is such a slow rate for a Model S. I hope the new owners turn Blink around.
     
  9. ggr

    ggr Roadster R80 537, SigS P85 29

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    2,479
    The other problem with the Blink network is that you can't plan on how long a charge will take. They had a batch of bad connectors at some point, which can overheat if you plug in something that can draw more than the original Leafs did (6.6kW I think?) So rather than fix the units, they just derated them to 18Amps instead of 30. There are a bunch of derated ones in San Diego, including most of the ones at my work.
     
  10. drees

    drees Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2009
    Messages:
    1,121
    Location:
    San Diego
    As a LEAF owner (and potential Tesla owner) I find that statement demeaning. You will find that LEAF owners are just as demanding as Tesla owners. I doubt you will find any LEAF owner with public charging experience to say that "Blink works for this group", but will instead state that it's unreliable at best and very difficult to count on especially when you consider ICEing issues which affect nearly all sites.

    That is one area where Tesla seems to be doing very well - in nearly all cases they appear to do their best to place Superchargers away from prime parking to reduce the occurrence of ICEing (yet it still happens!).

    Personally I am not holding high hopes for the CarCharging takeover of the Blink network. There are many failed public charging providers that have been strewn along the roadside, the Ecotality was just the latest company to fail. Looking at CarCharging's balance sheets, it remains to be seen how they can remain in business at the rate they are bleeding money if they can't make the Blink network dependable to boost usage.
     
  11. abasile

    abasile Independent Software Eng.

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Messages:
    359
    Location:
    San Bernardino Mts., CA (Elev. 6100' / 1800m)
    I agree that CarCharging Group, unfortunately, is facing very rough waters.

    Thus far, about the only non-free, public charging with a truly sustainable business model seems to be RV parks, and just maybe some quick chargers in high-traffic locations. That may change with more EVs on the road, and dramatically lower equipment and installation costs. (The way to reduce installation costs, going forward, is to pre-wire new construction.) In the meantime, the best way to view public charging is as a desirable amenity that attracts people of means while promoting electric driving.
     
  12. montgom626

    montgom626 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    Messages:
    1,339
    Location:
    USA
    Big +1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I find any public level 2 by any company to be sketchy as best. I never count on any of them working.
     
  13. PhilBa

    PhilBa Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2013
    Messages:
    1,355
    Location:
    Seattle
    #13 PhilBa, Dec 22, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
    I have a card and have used a Blink EVSE once. I did get 30A but in a Tesla, that's just a drop in the bucket. The problem with the Blink Network (other than reliability and derated chargers) is that it just wasn't well thought out. There was a study in late 2012/early 2013 that put the utilization of the blink network at something 3% overall. This basically meant an average of one car used a given charger per day. It's simply not a sustainable business model. Part of the problem is that the EVSEs have been sited in places where it just doesn't make sense. For example, the Whole Foods charger is a dumb location. People shop for maybe an hour. Given that they probably live fairly close by and are going right home, why would anyone bother to pay for a charge? (yes, I sure some contrarian will cook up a counter example but I believe this is how the vast majority behave). There are 3 Blink stations next to a Sears near me. I drive by this location several times a day. I have never seen a single car using them, ever. And my favorite example, a local college has 2 blink chargers in a guest lot that is limited to 1/2 hr parking. Now that is just brilliant! There really has not been a lot of thought into the placement of Blink chargers. I suspect that they were trying meet the EVProject contract obligations and didn't care if they actually got used or not. A great example of how government involvement isn't always a good thing.

    Charge point is a little better but not enough to make a huge difference.

    One thing that Tesla has done well is being thoughtful about where they place Superchargers. The utilization isn't terribly high but I bet the system average is a LOT higher than 3% and their business model doesn't depend on SC utilization. In fact, in some ways, lower utilization is better for them.
     
  14. cwerdna

    cwerdna Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Messages:
    1,033
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, CA
    #14 cwerdna, Dec 22, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
    '11 and '12 Leafs have a 3.3 kW on-board charger (I believe this is based upon on the output of the OBC, not max input wattage). I've seen some at my work charging on our Chargepoint EVSEs and per their displays, they pull ~3.7 kW. Our work EVSEs run at 208 volts. Those should have no problem w/EVSEs w/faulty Rema handles.

    The '11 Leaf began shipping around December 2010.

    '13+ Leafs have an optional 6 kW OBC. Mine pulls ~5.7 to 6.0 kW, per those displays depending on time of day and which units. We have 2 out in front of my work that seem to only output ~5.7 kW but the ones in our garage are closer to 6 kW.

    But yes, TonyWilliams had his Rav4 EV (has a 10 kW OBC, like the Model S) melt on his former home Blink EVSE (My Nissan Leaf Forum View topic - Blink / Rav4 Blows Out a Contactor Pin (with gory pics)). It was not long after where Blink started turning down the output (as a band aid) to prevent the faulty Rema handles from melting in the same way.

    Here are some stories about the faulty Rema handles and Blink turning down the output: Toyota Rav4 EV Forum View topic - Blink just replaced my cable.
     
  15. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Messages:
    12,756
    Location:
    Texas
    Which is why EV spaces get ICEd all the time. The majority of them are seldom used so everyone sees them as just another parking space--and often a prime parking space--removed by bureaucracy.
     
  16. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Messages:
    2,150
    Location:
    NE Tennessee
    I too was burned with Blink. I was cutting it too close on a trip home and diverted a few miles for a Blink charge only to find BOTH stations broken. At that point I could not make it home so I had to another few miles out of my way to find another Blink station offline. So a few more miles out of the way to a very nice Nissan dealer who let me charge on a working unit. Definitely a frustration late on a cool drizzly night. I hope they get things under control soon.
     
  17. SeminoleFSU

    SeminoleFSU Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Messages:
    718
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    +1 I can't understand for the life of me why most of the Blink chargers I've seen are right up front in the most prime of all the spots in the lot. Why not put them in the back, or off in the far flung areas of the lot? No wonder they get ICE'd. Since the spots aren't going to be used that often until EV's become more mainstream, they should locate these farther away to keep gas cars from being tempted to take them.. Seems like a no brainer to me, but oh well.
     
  18. 772

    772 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2013
    Messages:
    712
    Location:
    Iowa
    It's more expensive to run wiring to a far away spot. But yeah, they get ICE'd all the time
     
  19. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Messages:
    12,756
    Location:
    Texas
    1. Given Blink's financial resources, cost is likely the main consideration like 772 says.

    2. Some places have equal access regulations which require every type of parking to accessible, so they go right next to the handicapped spots.
     
  20. drees

    drees Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2009
    Messages:
    1,121
    Location:
    San Diego
    Keep in mind that Blink does not cover installation cost. Under the EV project that most of the Blink stations were installed under, hardware and perhaps some of the install was covered, but a substantial portion of the cost was still footed by the charging station host.
     

Share This Page