“We appreciate that one of the considerations for [Public Transport Victoria] is making sure that everyone pays the same for their travel, and people do not benefit financially through buying and refunding a pass.
“However because of the way a myki refund is calculated, it is not always in someone’s best interests to get a refund when their travel circumstances change.”
Ms Jennings cited one example of a commuter who asked for a refund when he had three months left on his yearly myki pass.
“He was told by PTV that he should get a refund of around $100 and went ahead with the refund, but only received $4,” she said.
“We found that although the calculation was correct under the rules, he got wrong advice from PTV. Ultimately he would have been better off keeping the myki pass, even if he wasn’t travelling regularly.”
The ombudsman is now investigating how myki refunds are calculated, as well as the advice PTV gives commuters about their options.
“It may be that [commuters] qualify for a reimbursement due to special circumstances, in which case
the amount they receive could be higher than a refund,” Ms Jennings said.
“Because the choice between a refund and reimbursement can be confusing, PTV’s procedures should be designed to promote the best outcomes for consumers.
“We will continue to talk with PTV about the customer experience of myki refunds and reimbursements and make sure systemic issues are addressed.”
There were also 28 complaints from the 100,000 users of mobile myki since its introduction in March.
Complications and disruptions were another significant area of concern, with 1152 different issues identified in complaints.
Ms Jennings said there was goodwill and understanding among the community that planned disruptions to the network were necessary to improve the public transport system.
However, she said there was frustration when those closures were accompanied by unexpected problems.
One main source of frustration was the commuter chaos in April, when the Sandringham line was taken out of action while nine other lines were shut down for works.
Drivers also drew a significant number of complaints, with 392 different concerns logged.
Bus company Transdev’s drivers also drew the most criticism in this area, with commuters raising 100 issues about missing stops, unsafe driving and general conduct.
There were 80 issues raised about the conduct of Yarra Trams drivers and 48 about Ventura bus drivers.
“I encourage more work on training and support for drivers,” Ms Jennings said.
Tom Cowie is a journalist at The Age covering general news.