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paulgipe
Posts: 360
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2014 4:23 pm
Delivery Date: 20 Oct 2014
Leaf Number: 311200
Location: Bakersfield, CA 93305
Contact: Website

Electrify America EV Charging Payment SNAFU

Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:45 am

It's an EV driver's nightmare. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere with an Electrify America charging station that wouldn't charge our car.

It could have been worse. It was only 100 °F (38 °C) and not 120 °F (49 °C). The wind was only blowing at 15-20 mph (7-9 m/s) and not 20-40 mph (9-18 m/s). And I only got hit with one swirling dust devil while holding a cell phone in one hand and a thick charging cable in the other, peering over my polarized sunglasses to read the tiny screen on the phone.

Yes, we were fortunate. Others haven't been so lucky at EA stations and had to be towed. For us, the nearest tow truck was 30 miles (50 km) away. Home was another 116 miles (200 km).

Nor were not exactly in the middle of nowhere. But we could see it. (We were at a Chevron station and in a short walk there was a CalTrans highway rest stop--and that's it for a long, long ways.)

We also had cell phone service. That's not always the case in parts of California where we like to drive our EV.

And we eventually got the charge we needed. Eventually.

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How? Miraculously, EA's infamous credit card readers were up and functioning. (The little green light was lit.) In desperation I finally asked the friendly EA assistant if I couldn't just try the credit card reader. She said, yes, it's showing that it's working, so try it. I again plugged the cable into the car, inserted my chip card in the reader, and then watched the screen go through its "initiating" motions. The cable locked to the car and after fumbling with frustrating screens asking if I want a receipt (No, I just want a charge), the station began to hum and start charging our Bolt--at a whopping 30 kW.

Again, we were happy that it was charging at 30 kW and not the 55 kW it should have been charging at. Yes, it was hot. We were tired. I was grumpy--to be polite. But it was charging and we were thankful for that.

So we jumped in, cranked up the A/C and sat back for a nice long charge.

We still don't know what went wrong. And neither does EA.

Our Covid-19 escape was pushing the limits of what we can do in one day. We knew that. We knew that EA's Coso Junction station had been operational less than two weeks. And we knew there was no backup if the station didn't work.

But we were game. I do my homework like a good boy. We've charged at EA stations before, not often, but more than once that's for sure. So I know how they're supposed to work. I monitored the few check-ins that had been registered on PlugShare and all seemed like a go.

And it was--initially. We drove from Bakersfield to Coso Junction, pulled in at 9:00 am to kiosk #1, and plugged in the cable. I loaded EA's app on my phone, swiped as instructed, held the cable until it locked, and heard the reassuring hum of the station charging the car. Amen. It worked, and like clockwork at that. We got our charge and drove off to Horseshoe Meadow in the High Sierra.

After enjoying a refreshing hike in the meadow at 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), we packed up for the long drive home. An hour later we pulled into Coso Junction again and that's when the fun started.

At 2:30 pm we pulled into the same kiosk that had worked well in the morning. It seemed to work at first. Then it stopped. I thought maybe I'd fumbled with the phone--clumsy fingers in the bright sun.

So I started again. No go. EA's app was telling me my "payment [was] declined." Ok, be that way I thought. We pulled over to dispenser #2, but EA's app produced the same message as before. Hmmm. Not a good sign.

I ducked into the car to get out of the wind and sun, pulled out my credit card and opened the account information on the app. It all looked good, but to be sure, I reentered all the information again. Then I saved it. Should work now, I thought.

Nope. After climbing out of the car, plugging in the cable, and swiping the app, EA was still declining payment. Oh, oh.

Now we were in a pickle and it was time to bring in the big guns by calling EA customer support.

EA's customer support is widely regarded as courteous and friendly. And they were. However, they could not clear up my account. They took a long time to even find a record of me in their system. And they never initiated a charge.

I don't know how long we would have been there if I hadn't noticed the green light on the credit card reader. EA never suggested trying the credit card reader until I asked them. We spent our time together trying to find out why the app wouldn't let me charge.

Obviously, my card was good or we'd still be in Coso Junction. The next day EA's $50 hold on my card appeared on my bank statement. The processing of the charge went through as normal for EA. And later payment for the charge cleared.

Here's the record of our first charge and of the aborted second charge later in the day. During the first session, we charged from 40% to 75% as planned. However, the second session doesn't look right. We definitely did not arrive with a 0% charge. We arrived with a 26% charge, shown as the end charge on the receipt. This is odd.

Later I received a receipt for this dropped session. I charged for one minute at 53 kW, gaining 0.8 kWh at a cost of $1.26.

Image

Our helpful EA agent said that we had a negative amount in our "auto fill" account. Ok, then it should auto fill I thought. By this time I'd already entered all my credit card info and "saved" it as instructed by the app. If the problem was due to the expiration date, entering the information into the app while I was sitting at Coso Junction should have cleared it up. It didn't.

The next day I found that my inbox was showing a robo email from EA noting that I'd changed my "default" account information successfully. Good. That's what I was trying to do when EA's app kept displaying the message "payment declined" while I was sitting in a hot car in the middle of the desert the day before. So it was somewhat reassuring to know that I had done something when images of tow trucks were dancing in my head.

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No Desktop Access to Account Info

EA's email message said to learn more by logging on to my account "online" or through the app. I followed the link in the message to EA's web site as instructed. Hmmm. I searched, and I searched. I couldn't find the tab, the link, the button, or anything that would take me to "account information."

I opened the app, tapped the account icon, and then tapped "billing details." There was my account information. It looked good to me. It showed that I had a negative balance of $0.78 from the day before. And below that was a message that it would auto-fill. Again, it looked good to me.

I called EA to confirm my observations. Yes, they said, there's no account information on the web site even though the email says to look there. Yes, the account information is only on the app.

One may wonder why EA's robo email provides a link to go online from a desktop computer when there's no account information there. Good question. If you meet an exec from EA or Volkswagen, its parent, please ask them.

While playing with the app later, I changed the vehicle information (I changed the model year of our Bolt). Again, an email popped up advising me that I'd changed the vehicle information and to check my account by going on line with web link. So the robo email with the misdirection wasn't one off.

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EA Needs to Step Up its Game


We've been driving electric for six years and have never been stranded at a charge station. The use of RFID cards at EA's competitors ChargePoint and EVgo haven't let us down. We've never had to use a credit card until Coso Junction.

Our problem may not have been due to EA's app, it could be EA's accounting system. EVgo, in its previous iteration, had had issues with its payment accounting too, but I haven't seen any complaints lately.

As you may have guessed, my account information is easily accessible online at both ChargePoint and EVgo. I logged on from my desktop--not an app--just to confirm this.

I also confirmed that my EA app is working properly. I took the time out of my day to drive across town to plug in at an EA station. No problems. The app worked like it's supposed to.

EA's Coso Junction station has been a long time coming. For that all non-Tesla drivers are thankful. The station opens up the East Side of the Sierra Nevada, a major recreation corridor for Southern Californians, for non-Tesla EVs.

The station teased us drivers like a mirage in the desert. It was installed more than a year before it became operational. We longed for that station to open. It just sat there, gathering dust. We rejoiced when EA finally announced Coso Junction was live. It was a dream come true for many of us in this part of the world.

If it works--right.

EA's network may not be ready for prime time. They need to get these reliability issues fixed--and quickly. VW will be churning out ID4s in 2022 from their Chattanooga plant and the parent company won't be happy if they find VW customers stranded at a company-owned station. Early in EA's roll out of stations on the East Side, an Audi e-tron was stranded at an EA station in Bridgeport. They had to be towed. People who pay the kind of money you pay for an Audi don't take kindly to excuses.

Nissan drivers are already advised not to rely on charging at EA stations because of EA's preference for a competing charging standard to that used by the LEAF. (See Electrify America's DCFC Stations Favor CCS Charging Standard.)

Certainly, I'll think twice about using an EA station--when I have a choice.

EA's Coso Junction station is, unfortunately, all there is in that part of California. ChargePoint and EVgo are missing in action on the East Side.

EV Connect's one kiosk station in Inyokern 30 miles (50 km) south from Coso Junction is behind schedule. No one knows when it will go live.

And CalTrans station under construction at its Coso Junction rest stop is way behind schedule too. CalTrans has never made the charge stations in its 30-30 program a priority--and it tells.

In the meantime, all we non-Tesla drivers can do is plead politely for EA to get its act together--and soon.
Bakersfield, California
2017 Bolt LT with DCFC, leased 11/09/17
2015 Nissan S with QC, leased, returned
2013 Chevy Volt Premium, used 10/3/16, sold
L2; ClipperCreek HCS-40; Jesla; JDapter Stub
http://www.wind-works.org

danrjones
Posts: 731
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:02 am
Delivery Date: 17 Jun 2019
Location: Ridgecrest, CA

Re: Electrify America EV Charging Payment SNAFU

Mon Aug 10, 2020 12:38 pm

Thanks Paul

Good write up, not sure what to add besides the obvious that you stated - stations must work, and we need more of them including backups.
2018 Leaf SV Pearl White with Tech and All Weather, Purchased New on 5/3/19

DougWantsALeaf
Posts: 2000
Joined: Fri May 10, 2013 8:21 pm
Delivery Date: 18 May 2013
Leaf Number: 407811
Location: Chicago North Side

Re: Electrify America EV Charging Payment SNAFU

Mon Aug 10, 2020 12:41 pm

EA has kind of become the Tesla of charging stations. Fast, powerful, but sucky quality.
2019 S Plus (97.98% SOH) & 2019 SV Plus (94.84% SOH) Both Silver
2013 Leaf SV sold 2019 with 11 bars
100 Mile Club Member (Number 87)
Max Miles on 13 Leaf: 120 miles
Max Miles on 19 SV+: 242 Highway miles @ 4.5 miles/kWh

iPlug
Posts: 457
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2016 6:47 pm
Delivery Date: 25 Apr 2016
Location: Rocklin, CA

Re: Electrify America EV Charging Payment SNAFU

Mon Aug 10, 2020 12:56 pm

DougWantsALeaf wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 12:41 pm
EA has kind of become the Tesla of charging stations. Fast, powerful, but sucky quality.
How do you figure?
'19 Model 3 SR+, '19 Leaf SV, '12 Plug-in Prius (sold 3/19), '16 Leaf SV (prior lease), 11.43kW Solar PV (16MWh/yr prod.), 20.5 SEER/13.0 HSPF ducted air-source HP, 3.70 UEF HPWH, Induction Cooktop, Variable Speed Pool Pump, Battery powered yard tools

DougWantsALeaf
Posts: 2000
Joined: Fri May 10, 2013 8:21 pm
Delivery Date: 18 May 2013
Leaf Number: 407811
Location: Chicago North Side

Re: Electrify America EV Charging Payment SNAFU

Mon Aug 10, 2020 2:04 pm

EA ststions are going down constantly.


If you meant Tesla quality. A new video just popped up.
https://youtu.be/GQpl8ulVkHU
2019 S Plus (97.98% SOH) & 2019 SV Plus (94.84% SOH) Both Silver
2013 Leaf SV sold 2019 with 11 bars
100 Mile Club Member (Number 87)
Max Miles on 13 Leaf: 120 miles
Max Miles on 19 SV+: 242 Highway miles @ 4.5 miles/kWh

iPlug
Posts: 457
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2016 6:47 pm
Delivery Date: 25 Apr 2016
Location: Rocklin, CA

Re: Electrify America EV Charging Payment SNAFU

Mon Aug 10, 2020 2:19 pm

How about data for Tesla quality. A lot of focus on cosmetic things on new model spin-ups that have been long known about. Nuisance - certainly, but nowhere near one of the important markers of quality.

To make charging station analogies useful, needs to be about a person getting stranded - that’s a real measure of quality.
'19 Model 3 SR+, '19 Leaf SV, '12 Plug-in Prius (sold 3/19), '16 Leaf SV (prior lease), 11.43kW Solar PV (16MWh/yr prod.), 20.5 SEER/13.0 HSPF ducted air-source HP, 3.70 UEF HPWH, Induction Cooktop, Variable Speed Pool Pump, Battery powered yard tools

specialgreen
Posts: 246
Joined: Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:21 pm
Delivery Date: 26 Mar 2017
Location: Minnesota

Re: Electrify America EV Charging Payment SNAFU

Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:00 pm

I wonder if EA has a glitchy auto-refill mechanism? If so, and if you're going to be in a dire spot if charging fails, then I wonder if it would be more reliable if you added more than the minimum $20 top-up to your EA account (e.g. $100).

I recently experienced that Chargepoint was happy to let my balance go "negative": I had an expired credit card on file with them, and they were unable to top-up, but the charge session still ran until it was complete.

danrjones
Posts: 731
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:02 am
Delivery Date: 17 Jun 2019
Location: Ridgecrest, CA

Re: Electrify America EV Charging Payment SNAFU

Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:37 am

Is it just me or is this whole wallet thing that providers are doing stupid? Can't I just have a card on file and use that card as needed? No different than swiping at the "pump". I don't see why I need to hand over sums of money in advance? I'm giving them an interest free loan, and I see no real reason for it. Just authorize my card on the fly, like every single gas station already does.
2018 Leaf SV Pearl White with Tech and All Weather, Purchased New on 5/3/19

cwerdna
Posts: 11016
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:31 pm
Delivery Date: 28 Jul 2013
Location: SF Bay Area, CA

Re: Electrify America EV Charging Payment SNAFU

Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:07 pm

danrjones wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:37 am
Is it just me or is this whole wallet thing that providers are doing stupid? Can't I just have a card on file and use that card as needed? No different than swiping at the "pump". I don't see why I need to hand over sums of money in advance? I'm giving them an interest free loan, and I see no real reason for it. Just authorize my card on the fly, like every single gas station already does.
Hopefully someone can chime in with knowledge of actual credit card network fees but I suspect the issue is the some fixed portion of swipe fees each time you use your card. At least w/gas stations, usually your transaction is large enough for the business to absorb it but for charging, it might not be at all.

I've seen many businesses where they won't take your CC unless you meet some minimum charge amount like $10.

'19 Bolt Premier
'13 Leaf SV w/premium (owned)
'13 Leaf SV w/QC + LED & premium (lease over)

Please don't PM me with Leaf questions. Just post in the topic that seems most appropriate.

salyavin
Posts: 190
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:51 pm
Delivery Date: 30 Dec 2019
Leaf Number: 318726
Location: Littleton , CO

Re: Electrify America EV Charging Payment SNAFU

Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:12 pm

EvGo is one that lets you pay as you go another is evconnect.

My only guess as to why chargepoint and EA take 10 dollar chunks is to earn interest on it to help with the profit. I do see stores say like a $5.00 minimum for credit card purchases or some such so that idea may have merit as well though on my chargepoint and evconnect I have it linked to my paypal.

On being at a charger with no mobile service yes that could easily happen to me as well I drove over 600 miles this week (over a few days) for various camping and such so I also go way out. Parts of our state are getting better coverage every few days and if a few went out I can often find an l2 or an RV outlet or something. I agree we need a DC fast charger at least every 70 miles so you can skip one but people do need to remember not to "run to empty" in that situation but it is a start.

I know of two EA stations in Colorado that have gone down repeatedly I had hoped that was an isolated incidence. I have had great luck with Chargepoint and EvGo. Our state chose chargepoint to cover the state.

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