My home Blink EVSE unit has worked like a charm. No problems. Today, though, I had yet another miserable experience trying to use their public chargers. I drove from Los Altos to Pleasanton where I stopped to use the QC at Strong Tie. Here's the sequence:
1. Strong Tie QC wouldn't read my Blink card after multiple tries. I called the number on the card, got a guest code and was able to quick charge to 80% with that but I lost about 13-15 minutes trying to get my card to work then calling Blink, waiting on hold a bit, getting my identity verified and getting the code entered correctly. It only gave me choices for 50% and 80% and shut off at the end instead of letting me go to 90% or 100%. I decided not to call and get a new code. I assumed guests were not allowed to charge past 80%
2. After driving around Livermore a bit I headed home, thinking I could make it on 6 bars, but at Mission SJ with 2 bars and 13 mi. on the GOM I decided I'd better grab some more charge. I knew Ohlone College had a QC, so I diverted there. (CarWings found it immediately for me and directed me there perfectly.) When I pulled in, the GOM was at 12 miles and 2 bars.
3. The QC at Ohlone left nozzle wouldn't read my card, so I called for the code again. I got through quickly but went through an even longer cross-examination about my identity and the guy wanted to give me a survey about my home unit, but I cut him off. When I tried to enter the code, it was very difficult to see because the unit was mounted so that the setting sun shone through the big rectangular hole in the middle right behind the touch screen. About one time in four when I pushed one of the touch screen buttons, it would double enter the number, so I would have to cancel and start all over since there is no way to delete the last digit. It took me three times to get the authorization code in and accepted. Then I plugged the nozzle in but the screen kept telling me to plug it in. I unplugged and replugged three times for a total of four times. A message came up that it was about to time out and asked if I wanted to keep connected. I pressed yes three times but it didn't register any of them and disconnected.
4. I gave up and moved to the other handle. It wouldn't read my card either, but the Blink rep, who was very patient and helpful, had stayed on the line the whole time and gave me a new code. This took even longer because on this touch screen, it tended to double enter the digits even more frequently. I think it took at least five tries to get the code in. The sun was still blinding me, too. When it said to plug in I did and this time it recognized that it was plugged in (a message said "plugged in" on the screen). The solid blue light came on on the dash. But even though I had pushed the kill timer button, nothing happened. The Blink unit kept saying it was waiting for the car to communicate. It finally timed out and disconnected. We repeated it, again having trouble with the codes, but faster this time with all the practice. The second time the same thing happened - unable to communicate with the car.
5. The rep asked me to read him the serial number on the QC. He looked it up in his database and said it had worked that morning so he thought it was my car, not the unit. He also said he was sending me a new card. Then he said he was going to reboot that unit and it would take about 15 minutes. I had already spent more than that trying to charge here. I told him to go ahead but I was going to use one of the Level 2 Blink units that were right next to the QC.
6. I plugged into one of the Level 2's. It read my card immediately and authorized charging. I plugged in and had no problem with that plug. The machine read "charging" and the blue light started blinking on the dash, so I finally felt that at least I could get enough to get home. I foolishly walked off to see the campus, which I had never seen. It was very pretty, with a really impressive outdoor amphitheater. By the time I got back, 20 minutes later, I noticed it wasn't charging. I later found out from emails at home that it had charged only 1 minute then shut off. Why I don't know. There was no message on the screen.
7. I repeated the process with the Level 2 EVSE and it started up again easily with no trouble with either the card or the plug. This time I stayed with the car and watched the EVSE and the dash lights. They stayed on the whole time and I got 19 minutes worth of charge before I decided I could make it home on what I had. I had two bars and 19 mi. on the GOM.
8. I got home with one bar, a low battery warning, and 4 mi. on the GOM. I was at Ohlone for 50 minutes to pick up 7 miles and 0 bars of charge, for which I was charged a dollar. Or maybe two dollars. I never saw a message after the first charge stopped, so I'm not sure.
The Leaf and the Blink home EVSE are both totally trouble-free and everything I had hoped for. I never even have to think about charging in my normal day-to-day activities, but it is pretty much impossible to go beyond the 70 mile range. Trying to charge away from home is a nightmare. I have had similar problems with almost every public Blink I've used, QC or L2. The ChargePoint ones are better, but they aren't QC. I haven't tried any of the evGo ones, but those require a monthly subscription and I only publicly charge once a year or so, so it's not worth it to join.
Am I the only ones with these problems or is it only my car that hates the Blinks? Is there anything that can be done? Are there non-Blink QC units around I can try? The only two I know of are an evGo one in Livermore and the one at Stanford Shopping Center. The technology just isn't ready for prime time. Do the Tesla superchargers work any better? (yes, I know you need a Tesla).
2011 SL down to 9 capacity bars