Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.

"Charge Your Car" problem in UK

This site may earn commission on affiliate links.
Last year I put £20 on 2 cards for use in emergencies for me and my wife. They have just told me the card only lasts 12 months and I have lost the £40 - not happy.

Be aware that if you do not use the cash you load on this firms cards they will steal it from you.

This is exactly the sort of firm (not many charge points and a stupid sytstem) thyat will put people off owning EVs.

Lesson learnt!
I agree it's not good, but your description isn't how it actually works with CYC.

There is no pre-loading of money onto the account (as there is with some others) - you have a credit card on file and they bill you retrospectively.

However, if you want the card (as opposed to using the mobile app with its questionable reliability), they charge £20 per year for that.

I use CYC just about often enough that I grudgingly pay the £20/year for the reliability of the card.

However, last week I was down in Maidstone using a CYC point there, and I found that it rejected my expensively paid-for card, while working OK with the app!! Not impressed....
Varies with location. CYC's business model is that they don't own any chargepoints - they just manage them on behalf of the site owners, mostly local councils etc. who installed them with OLEV grants. The site owners set the price per charge, with a wide variety of tariffs, from "free" to hourly rates or per kWh. For sites that were "free", CYC now add a £1 service charge.

The annual fee is purely for the card - what you then pay for use is exactly the same whether you have the card or just use the mobile app.

(just found out the explanation for my failed charge - despite having "auto_renew=on" in the account settings, they failed to collect the renewal fee last year and the card has expired!).

Polar is different, despite the common ownership - their card has a monthly fee, but gives you access to lower tariffs on most of their chargepoints compared to using their mobile app. Polar card gives access to CYC points (but not vice-versa), though the CYC tariff still applies. CYC also run ChargeplaceScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government - CYC card (but not Polar card) also gives access to those points.

Among other operators:

ChargepointGenie/Geniepoint - They will sell you a card for a one-off fee, but also have a mechanism to let you register any other RFID card that you already have - their model is not raising revenue from the card. Their alternative is a mobile-friendly website rather than an app per se. They used to have a myriad of tariffs like CYC, but have gradually herded their site owners onto two sets of tariffs - London/non-London.

PodPoint - again variable tariffs set by the site, but quite often free. No cards (apart from a few legacy locations that haven't yet been upgraded to their new hardware), but choice of app/website and a special scheme whereby it starts charging immediately you plug in, with 15 minutes grace period to sort out authentication (allowing you to eg. move somewhere else for better mobile reception/less rain, or in emergency allowing a small charge if the authentication fails to work).

Franklin Energy/EV Driver - use backend from Fortum (Finland) with roaming agreements to each other and the other Fortum partners in Europe. Again, card available for one-off fee, or use website.

Shell - Marketing directs you towards an app which has a very poor reputation, but they also accept TheNewMotion cards. TNM is a Netherlands-based operator, though they do have a couple of locations in the UK, and they have lots of roaming agreements across Europe. I believe card is free (must get around to applying for one).
  • Like
Reactions: Fellsteruk
I’m sure that’s what’s coming into force in October with the new law that comes into effect

No. The existing law (active since last year for new installations and from 18th November this year for existing ones) only requires access "without entering into a pre-existing contract". The new Automated and Electric Vehicles act has just been passed, which gives them power to make more restrictive regulations in the future, but no regulations under that act have yet been made.

Some networks have responded to this with plans to accept contactless:
  • Instavolt have made it their focus and have a credible network roll-out, though their "introductory offer" of free charging keeps getting extended, which makes me think they haven't made the contactless stuff actually work yet.
  • Engenie have for years been claiming to offer contactless, though their free charging eventually became a "temporary" flat rate £4/charge because they haven't yet got the software to work for their intended variable tariff (and at present their network is tiny).
  • PodPoint have declared an intent to use contactless on rapids but stick with their mobile-app based system on AC chargepoints. However, the roll-out at Lidl is free-of-charge but app based and a PodPoint person on another forum suggested that's unlikely to change, though reiterating their intent for contactless at forthcoming payment-required rapids at other locations.
Geniepoint (aka ChargePointGenie) don't accept contactless, but augment their mobile-friendly webpage offering with the ability to register any RFID card (including a bank card) as an access token for convenience. It's still account based but meets the ad-hoc requirement because you can set up an account on the spot and don't need to send off for the card.

CYC similarly offer card or mobile app access; however unlike Geniepoint they try to make a profit centre of the cards. They are probably also a declining force - maintaining their existing estate of mainly council-owned points installed under the PluggedInPlaces grant schemes, but not actively expanding since the Chargemaster takeover.

Chargemaster/Polar (now owned by BP) are playing a different game. They are aggressively trying to get you onto their subscription-based RFID scheme, and expanding their network coverage. It appears that their world view is that, rather than contactless payment so that drivers can use any point, networks will have national coverage and drivers will have loyalty to one network - think mobile phone networks rather than cashpoint networks if you will.

NewMotion (now owned by Shell) seem to have a similar mindset, though they are open to expanding coverage by roaming agreements and have many throughout Europe (Chargemaster terminated CYC's roaming agreement after their takeover). Currently, NewMotion don't seem to be obeying the law in that they have no ad-hoc access - only a card you have to obtain in advance - though it looks like they are updating their mobile app to meet that requirement. Currently the mobile app just lets you find chargepoints and you need the card to actually commence charging.

So, I hope that the contactless approach turns out to be the winner, but it's not clear yet and the battle lines are forming up.
  • Informative
Reactions: Lasairfion
Just been informed by CYC customer service that a UK DD card is required to be able to even register an account (CC no linger being an allowed payment method). This will seriously limit my (fast) charging options when touring Scotland as a tourist this summer. Not happy
Presumably they mean a debit card as opposed to a credit card.

I just went and tried to change the card on my account (which is currently set up with a credit card). The form on the website is a generic card payment page (from their payment provider, not directly on their own website), and it still allows you to select mastercard/visa credit cards.

However, at the end of the process it gave a message (in green!) saying "payment card not updated", so I don't know if it's just not working or if it rejected my card because it's a credit card, or for some other reason.
It seems CC was allowed before, but it will not let me choose that option when registering a new account.

This is what I got from customer service: 'Unfortunately yes, if you do not have a UK Direct Debit it will not work on the system.'
Following my above experiment, I've had two emails from their payment provider saying they've reserved £1 against my card, yet in the CYC account it still shows the (different) card I had registered previously.

This is what I got from customer service: 'Unfortunately yes, if you do not have a UK Direct Debit it will not work on the system.'

Did they really say "direct debit", or is that your translation? Note that in UK banking, a "direct debit" and a "debit card" are very different things.

I have a suspicion it's simply broken at present.

I'm not a UK resident but I would like to be able to use the CYC network as a tourist this summer. Seems I can't.

If you are going somewhere that other networks are plentiful, then stuff 'em.

If you are going somewhere you really need a CYC card (Scotland?), then I suggest you leave it a bit and have another go. If it still doesn't work, contact me by PM and I'll get my card fixed and I can then lend it to you.
Thanks for the offer arg!
The statement above is an exact copy/paste from the email I got. And I'm going to Scotland indeed, so CYC would be my best bet for anything close to rapid charging. Might end up opening an account with Monese (that would get me a 'GB' IBAN and sort me out).
Here's a screenshot of the allowed options when registering payment details on a new account.
Schermafbeelding 2019-01-15 om 12.47.55.png
I have a 'free' Polar Plus card as part of my home energy provision. Its the only card I use and works on almost every machine I have tried. If you have to pay its generally 10.8p (9p + VAT) rather than 30p-35p per kWh. Obviously Instavolt (35p soon) is contactless but its quite expensive. I do also begrudgingly use the Ecotricity app but that has done me for 32k miles over the past year.
  • Disagree
Reactions: arg
OK, I've done some more checking:
  • On my old account, it has now updated the credit card to the one I put in last night. There is no option here to set up a direct debit, only the option to change the registered credit card.
  • I created a new account from scratch. This account has the same menu option for "payment method", and that gives you a button "register payment card". However, when you press it, it takes you to a screen "Setup Direct Debit Mandate" which is clearly setting up a bank direct debit (with references to the UK bank direct debit guarantee scheme etc) and not a card transaction.
It is still possible that this is just a cockup and they intend to offer both payment methods.

If they really are forcing everybody to use direct debit, then this is illegal: they are required under the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulations to offer ad-hoc access to "every person" without a "pre-existing contract". They were already skating fairly close to the line with the requirement to sign up with a credit card, but that seems to be accepted as meeting the requirement. However, a direct debit can't usually be set up instantly, and "any person" doesn't mean "any person who happens to have a UK bank account".