New network: Chargie

lpickup

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A new network has appeared on AFDC today: Chargie (Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations | Chargie)

I hate to criticize upstart charging providers, and I usually give them a lot of slack, but each time I see one of these small upstart networks pop up, I have to ask whether it's a good or bad thing. As much as I'm rooting for these small networks to do something innovative and transform the charging landscape, I really see nothing but a cut and paste that will likely result in disappointment for their users. And I really don't feel good about this network based on my first impressions, even though they say that they are building the most reliable charging network "by a mile":
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(we shall see)

First of all, one thing I hate about practically ALL networks is that the only way you can get any information about their network is through their app. They all have websites, but almost without exception they look like they were put together by a high-school web design class student with practically the same banner:

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No map with their charging station locations or anything. This one allows you to search an address to see if they have a charging station there, so I put in the address of their charging station that appeared on AFDC, and guess what, they apparently don't have charging there! Not a good start!
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Okay, like I've done with most other networks, I decide to download the app so I can get a map (I now have 28 apps on my phone!) to get more information (some apps are good, some are okay, and some are just really bad).

One of the most common complaints I hear from users is about needing an app for every last network (a valid complaint for sure), I'm willing to let that slide with the hopes that maybe you don't actually NEED the app to charge. In addition, however, one of the most common complaints is difficulty in setting up an account. So let's see how that goes.

So the first problem I ran into is finding the app itself. It's called "Chargie" but when I search for "Chargie" in the Google Play Store, it doesn't show up at all. Instead I get a whole lot of phone battery managers. Definitely not a good start.

So instead, I install it from their web site. At least that gets me to the right place.

And here is where it turns south quickly.

You are REQUIRED to create an account to use the app. Most apps let you at least use the app as a guest (maybe without full information), but not this one. You cannot get past the initial screen without creating an account. But hey, I'm trying to provide a service for you guys, so I'll play along.

The account creation process is not all that great. You start by inputting your e-mail address and then you are sent a link to create your account. You can't just do that from the app itself. Okay, fine, but this is one of those things that people complain about--having to jump through hoops.

Once I got my account created, then I go to log in.

And again, I get stuck. It will not let me past the next screen which insists that I put in a payment method and load $20 in. This is where I draw the line. There appears to be no way I can check a map to see where their charging stations are without committing $20 to the exercise. Sorry, but no thank you. As much as I pride myself on creating a well curated site with complete information, I'm afraid that I will not be able to add validated Chargie network sites until such as they offer a way to search their network without this requirement.

Plus, this station is at a dealership anyway, and who knows if they will make sure they keep the spots open for charging, or not charge an arm and a leg for the charging, or maintain the equipment, etc.
 
If a customer has to load in $20 to their account just to see the map, then that is a horrible pain point. I hope this doesn't become a trend. Especially with more of these new charging providers entering the space in the coming years.
 
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