- 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 Host who is taking payments you will need a few things handy:
- Your driving licence (card) and a recent (last 3 months) utility bill. You will need to take pictures of these as part of setting up your profile, so that the payment processing company can verify your identity for security and anti-money-laundering (AML) compliance. Please rest assured that these images 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 speed and connector type of your charger. For most people this is 7.4kW and Type 2, but do check.
- Knowledge of how much you pay for your electricity, so that you can set your pricing appropriately.
- You are only paid 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 being paid for the car parking on your property. If you wish to make an allowance in your pricing you can – 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 you wish to do that too).
- The app is set up so that you do not have to be present for charging sessions. However, we do recommend that you meet the Chargee for the first few until you’re both comfortable with the process and you feel comfortable leaving them to it. If you keep your charger locked, or if it requires access to a garage or other secure area, you can arrange whatever is appropriate with the Chargee for them to gain access – sharing a combination for a lock, or using a key-safe, for example. It’s entirely up to you, but remember: this is your neighbour and they are dependent on you for charging their car, so it is not in their interest to misbehave.
- 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 you, the Host, the app makes it as easy as possible for you and your Chargee to end up with a sequence of bookings that works for both of you – but it requires communication.
Let’s say your Chargee requests 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 you already have bookings for some but not all of those dates, the app will send you a single request just for the available. You then either accept or decline that request. The app also tells the Chargee straight away how many of their requested dates have been successfully submitted in that request. If you accept the request, both you and the Chargee can see in your bookings schedules which dates have now become bookings. We recommend that your Chargee contacts you about availability for the other weeks so that further booking requests can be sent as needed.
- If the app sees that all of the requested dates are available, it will submit a request to you for the whole sequence. If, for some reason, one or more of the dates are not practical for you (and you wish to be present for the sessions), you can do one of two things: you can reject the whole set and talk to the Chargee to work out alternative time slots, or you can accept the whole set, cancel the problematic ones and talk to the Chargee about 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!
- When a charging session is completed, you will get a notification with the basic information for you to check – just for your own peace of mind. If you are ok with the information you can just tap ‘Confirm’, and the payment to your registered account will be triggered the same day. (Please note that it can take up to a week to show up in your account though!). If you are unsure about anything in a particular session, you can tap ‘Query’. This will let you see the photograph(s) the Chargee took of their car’s dashboard to prove the starting time and battery percentage at the beginning of the session (and end if appropriate). If you are still unsure you can send us a message and we will investigate for you. If you are still unsure you can send us a message and we will investigate for you. However, we do recommend reading the section of our FAQs page on how payments are calculated
- A Chargee can start a session up to one hour before the booked time, and at any time during the booked period. This is to allow a bit of flexibility. Hopefully your Chargee will let you know if they won’t be arriving near the booked time, but if you are allowing them unattended sessions then the app is designed to give them that flexibility.
- The Chargee does not need to manually end the session. If they 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 the Chargee’s experience as smooth as possible.
- A couple of things to note about calculations:
- Firstly, you are only paid 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 being paid for the car parking on your property. If you wish to make an allowance in your pricing you can – 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 you wish to do that too!)
- Something else to bear in mind is that in order to avoid the need to have the app talk directly to the charger (which can be problematic) the app has to make assumptions about what the charger is doing. A key one of these is that the charger is going at its stated wattage all the time, which we know is not always the case – they tend to start and end sessions more slowly to protect the battery. This means that the estimated time of active charging that the app arrives at will often be shorter than the actual time the charger was running for. BUT the amount paid by the Chargee will be kept proportional to the amount of electricity used, which we have taken as the more important number in this context. We will be working on a more sophisticated algorithm over time as we gather data, but for now rest assured that while the “active charge time” may not match what your charger’s app tells you, the amount you get paid will allow properly for what you yourself have paid for the electricity. You will not be out of pocket!
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 charger is not in an area with a reliable mobile signal you may need to allow your Chargees access to your 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.