- When you first use the app it will let you step through the basics of how to use it. While it does a lot below the surface, once you get to know how it’s set out you’ll find it very easy and quick.
- Your first task is to set up your profile. This doesn’t take long, but as a Chargee who needs to pay for sessions you will need a few things handy:
- A debit or credit card for payment. Please rest assured that these details are NOT stored by Co Charger; they are all sent directly to the highly secure systems at Stripe and used only for initial verification.
- The usable capacity of your car’s battery, which the app needs to calculate the amount you pay for each session. Please note that some manufacturers quote capacity as the ‘usable’ amount. The battery technically has more capacity but the car limits this to optimise battery health. Other manufacturers (sadly) quote that maximum, so you’ll need to check or you could end up paying the wrong amount for your sessions.
- You only pay for the time when the charger is actively charging the car. This means that once the car is fully charged (as will normally happen on overnight sessions) you are not paying for the car parking on your Host’s property. The Host can make an allowance for this in their pricing, but we are keen that Co Charger is a charger sharing app, not a means to charge for parking. (There are other apps for that if they wish to do that too!).
- Book a little longer than you think will be needed. Chargers and cars communicate and tend to start and end charges slowly to protect the battery, so you may find that the car needs a bit longer than it would if the charger was going at maximum power all the time. The app will adjust the pricing accordingly, so you won’t be left out of pocket!
- The app is set up so that the Host does not have to be present for charging sessions. However, we do recommend that they meet Chargees for the first few sessions until both are comfortable with the process and they feel comfortable leaving you to it. If they keep their charger locked, or if it requires access to a garage or other secure area, they can arrange whatever is appropriate for you to gain access – sharing a combination for a lock, or using a key-safe, for example. Trust is important!
- The app supports both one-off bookings and weekly, recurring bookings. Recurring bookings are sent to the Host as a single request, which splits out into a sequence of individual bookings once it is accepted.
- When a request for a recurring booking is made and some, but not all, of the dates in the sequence are ok for the host, the app makes it as easy as possible for you and the Host to end up with a sequence of bookings that works for both of you – but it requires communication.
Let’s say you request a booking for Tuesday 4th at 6pm for 13 hours (i.e. overnight), repeating for the following 7 Tuesdays (so 8 Tuesdays in total):
- If the app sees that the Host already has bookings for some but not all of those dates, the app will send the Host a single request just for the available . The Host then either accepts or declines that request. The app also tells you straight away how many of their requested dates have been successfully submitted in that request. If the Host accepts the request, both you and the Host can see in your bookings schedules which dates have now become bookings. We recommend that you contact the host about availability for the other weeks and send further requests as needed.
- If the app sees that all of the requested dates are available, it will submit a request to the Host for the whole sequence. If, for some reason, one or more of the dates are not practical for the Host (e.g. they will be away and they wish to be present for the sessions), they can do one of two things: they can reject the whole set and talk to you to work out alternative time slots, or they can accept the whole set, cancel the problematic ones and discuss with you alternatives for those weeks.
If this sounds complicated, don’t worry – it’s a rare thing and actually comes down to common sense. The app just makes sure you don’t end up double-booked!
- After each charging session the Host gets a summary sent to them, with the basic information for them to check. If they are ok with the information they just tap ‘Confirm’ and payment is taken from your registered card. If they are unsure about anything in a particular session they can tap ‘Query’. This lets them see the photographs you took of your car’s dashboard to prove the starting time and battery percentage at the beginning of the session (and the end if appropriate). If they are still unsure they can send us a message and we will look into it, and you will be notified of this. However, we do recommend that they read the section of our FAQs page on how payments are calculated, and it is a good idea for Chargees to do so too.
- You can start a session up to one hour before the booked time, and at any time during the booked period. This is to allow you a bit of flexibility. We advise you to communicate with your Host and let them know if they won’t be arriving near the booked time, but if they are allowing you unattended sessions then the app is designed to give you that flexibility.
- You do not need to manually end the session. If you simply unplug and go, the app will assume, one hour after the end of the booked session, that the car has charged to 100% and end the session automatically. Again, this is just to minimise hassle and to make your experience as smooth as possible.
At Co Charger we are great believers in keeping things simple and evolving based on what our users tell us. As such, the app will always have a roadmap of new functions and tweaks, and this is updated and prioritised constantly. At the moment that roadmap includes:
- Offline functionality: At present the app only works if your phone is connected to the internet with a reliable data connection. Over time we will be making some functions work when the phone is offline – starting with the ability to begin and end charging sessions. Until then, if your host’s charger is not in an area with a reliable mobile signal they may need to allow you within range of their home Wi-Fi signal.
- More options for notifications, including “push” notifications directly from your phone: We will also be adding more functionality for users to tell the app when and how notifications should be sent.
- More calendar controls for hosts: this will include the ability to block out whole chunks of time or recurring time-slots for their own use. (At the moment you can just decide whether to accept or reject bookings individually.)
- Big picture stuff: We have some really exciting projects in the pipeline, such as enabling fleet owners to enable their drivers to use Co Charger for fleet vehicles, as well as data connections to chargers, and becoming part of the bigger picture ideas such as smart charging.