Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Death of My Charlie Card

Usually trips on the MBTA's system of buses and subways are more adventurous for me than they should be.

Now that I am working downtown, I have the pleasure of stepping out my front door, walking a block to the bus stop, and riding that same bus all the way to the work. It's a simple commute. The bus isn't swamped, and thus far attaining a seat has not been an issue.

Paying for my rides, however, is a taller task.

Now that the MBTA allows for online registration and replenishment of Charlie Cards, I figured that I would be adventurous and fill my card over the weekend and be good-to-go until I receive my September monthly bus pass from the office.

One would assume that tying a $10 purchase to a specific Charlie Card would send me on my way. Sadly, that is not the case.

Little did I know that after charging $10 online on Sunday, I would then have to tap my card at any MBTA machine located...at a T stop.

The problem here is that I take the bus. No subway.

So, I step on the bus on Monday morning, and I don't have enough money on my card to pay the fare. I have to load another $10 onto the card on the bus.

I emailed customer service, and was sent an email saying that my card would be updated by 12 noon, but I would later realize that this was incorrect the next time I tap my card on a bus' card reader during my ride home. I emailed customer service again, and was then told I would have to actually go to a machine at South Station to update the card.

After work on Tuesday, I did just that - walked over to South Station, tapped my card on the machine to update it, and had the machine....

...cancel my card.


I asked an MBTA employee, who verified that my card had indeed been killed. She suggested I walk to Downtown Crossing for some strange reason, and speak with someone over there.

I kind of wanted to simply get home. So she gave me a card with $1.70 loaded onto it (which...I learned was also untrue when I tried boarding the bus), and sent me on my way.

While waiting for the bus, I called the number on the back of the car, explained the situation to the operator, and she took my information. She didn't seem to question my story, and instead told me that I should expect to receive a check for $16 (my $10 I charged online, and the remaining $6 that was on my card before it died) in about 4 weeks.

4 weeks?! There's no way to apply the balance to another card? Grrr.

And the kicker? I now have a new Charlie Card with $0 on it. Being that I have just $20 bills in my wallet, I am now going to be loading ANOTHER $20 onto my new card when I board the bus on Wednesday.

So that's $40 to the MBTA this week, all because I tried to save some time and conveniently load my card online over the weekend. This system should be simpler and more efficient.

************ UPDATES ************

1. My attempt at loading $20 onto my new Charlie Card on the bus this morning was also a failure. Apparently, I didn't tap my card on the pad quickly enough after loading the $20, and it instead shot out a Charlie Ticket, so I now have the please of paying the inflated prices for $20 worth of bus rides. For the record, I tapped my card on the pad within a few seconds of its instruction, so I have no idea what happened here. I'm probably just doomed.

2. I received a personal email from someone at the MBTA asking about the situation and asking me to call his work or cell numbers. As the email was in my spam box, I didn't see it until this evening. I'll give them a ring on Wednesday. They must be monitoring blog activity, because this posting did not receive any outbound links yet. Very interesting that they are reading the chatter. Good for them!

1 comment:

Josh said...

I think there is a way for you to move your charlieticket balance onto your charliecard. you may want to investigate that further.