Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Khalil and his Kiosk of Solitude

His name might be similar, but this Metro employee is no Superman.
On Saturday night at about 8:45 p.m., we began a trip at East Falls Church station. We were with a friend from out of town who needed to buy a farecard. After trying several machines using cash, it appeared none of them were working. Other customers were having the same difficulty.
There were no signs about any problems so everyone was going from machine to machine.
We went to the station manager and politely said "None of the machines seem to be working correctly, and the last one (an older model) doesn't even appear to be on."
Mr. Khalil (Superman's "real" name is Kal-El), who was engrossed in something else, sighed and said, "they all work" and looked back down at whatever he was reading.
Flabbergasted, we pointed to the growing crowd and said, "No, they don't."
"They're all working," said Khalil rather lethargically, giving off a strong get-the-hell-out-of-my-face vibe.
Stunned by Khalil's attitude, we walked back to the ticket machines to see if our friend had struck it lucky on another machine.
They had not, but others had figured out that the machines were only accepting credit or debit cards.
A sign would have been nice.
So we went back to Khalil and suggested some signage was in order.
Acting like he'd just awoken from a nap, he stuck with his "they're all fine" line.
It was obvious that getting him to move was going to be more difficult than reversing the spin of the planet, but at last, he relented and slowly emerged from his kiosk of solitude, again exhaling as if he were really being put out.
Donning his fluorescent orange and green WMATA cape, he first walked very slowly over to the machine that appeared to be off.
Khalil gave it a few short punches like people used to do with a TV on the blink, and voila, the machine came to life!
"You just don't have as much experience as I do," he said with a smug grin as he sauntered back to his hideout.
Here's one Metro employee who should probably be taken up, up and away from front line customer "service," because customers seem to have much the same effect kryptonite has on Superman.

Other items:
Metro takes rare plaintiff position in lawsuit (Examiner)
Metro needs more 'bottom-up' thinking (GGW)

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Dan Franzen said...


Brian said...

Oh, HIM? You're lucky you got him to respond to you at all- my last time out there, my Smartrip card was being a pain in the butt, so I went to ask him for help. He wouldn't even look at me- he was too busy reading a newspaper. I figured eventually that he was either A) deaf, or B) an asshole, with 'B' being most likely (this IS Metro, after all). I finally gave up and got a cab home.

Anonymous said...

I've had the anti-attendants yell at the top of their lungs at me from across the station, simply to avoid getting off their kiosk-keisters. Bus drivers are worse - they got a ton of steel and they will run you down.

Kara said...

So does metro want all of their customers to hit any and all metro equipment that does not work for them now?

Anonymous said...

It might hurt to hit a train.

Brian said...

Well, if we're going to start hitting things in the Metro system to make them work, Catoe is a good place to start...

WMATA said...

Anytime you have a complaint about your Metro experience, please let US know about it directly. That way we can document it, investigate the complaint and come to a resolution. We make that easy enough to do by internet and e-mail ( ) and telephone and postal mail (

We want to provide exceptional service, and you can help us do that by reporting issues to us via the customer service line. When there is a formal record, we can identify trends, and put fixes in place. Please help us by providing as much information about the problem as you are comfortable with and telling us directly when you find something wrong.



Anonymous said...

oh wow. i had sent this post to wmata through the customer complaint form and told them to fire this guy. i wonder if that 11:40am comment is because they actually read that complaint? I was expecting not to hear anything from them because, as we all know, wmata doesn't read complaints.

Anonymous said...

"Khalil" is a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689. Nothing will ever happen to him. You're tilting at windmills complaining about him.

I bet dollars to donuts his car was parked in a handicapped or 15-minute-waiting spot rigth outside the entrance, too. You know, even though Metro goes directly to his place of work. WMATA employees don't use the system - it's too unreliable!

...and ignore "WMATA's" advice to use their system. Even if they investigate, and initiate an action, it will be set aside one the union gets involved. The employee will probably even get a bonus in the form of some back overtime, too.

This system is rotten to the core, and it will NEVER be fixed.

Anonymous said...

Hey WMATA - I HAVE reported the horrid actions and attitudes of the attendants many times over the years - to NO avail. Please try again and thank you for posting about Metro!

Dan D said...


But you don't do anything about it. What's the point of filing a complaint with you when nothing every happens.

Brian said...

And therein lies the problem. Reporting problems is nice. But nothing ever comes of it. Remember my complaint about the rude bus driver a month or so ago, on the 22A from the Pentagon? The driver didn't have the right info on the light-display on the side of the bus and got sarcastic and rude when I asked what route the bus was? It was even posted here as an example of poor customer service. Want to bet how long it took Metro to get back to me about it? Never. I haven't heard a damned thing. Which is standard procedure- as long as Metro doesn't admit there's a problem, there's no problem. Classic ostrich-head-in-the-sand behavior.

Don't blow smoke up our asses about 'report problems to us' if the plan at that point is to politely ignore the issue and hope we'll just go away.

Tim said...

I'm not taking WMATA's side, and I think it is great to have a place to vent our frustrations like these. I have sent a complaint about a station manager to WMATA before (and never received a response). That being said, what do you expect to hear from Metro? Do you want them to tell you the employee has been reprimanded or fired? Let's say you complained about bad customer service from a rep from your insurance company or phone company. Would you expect a follow-up call to update you on what action has been taken against that employee? I'm sure Metro, like most any other company - especially with a union - has to follow progressive discipline (which is why they need complaints with as much info as possible). You got bad customer service and you sent a complaint - and that's the end of the story. Whatever action WMATA takes against that employee isn't really your business.

Brian said...


I too wrote about a bad exprience and was promised a reply "as soon as possible."
That was in January, I'm still waiting. And you wonder why we all hate you.

Dan Franzen said...

A big thank you to Shady Grove Metro, which finally removed piles and piles of horse poop from the sidewalk between the station and one of the surface lots. I mean, it took only a week or two - good work! Minor quibble - you left a little there. I guess to remind us of what had been ...

DC rider said...

I have reported a compliaint to metro - a bus driver closed a door on me, it actually hurt, when I tried to get on the bus, even though more than one person was getting off the bus. None ever responded. No point in reporting complaints to WMATA they suck and have no customer service at all. I wish they'd fire half their slacker staff and give the jobs to people who are looking right now and would try to do a good job. Thanks for posting this.

Kara said...

I had about the same happen to me. A train door opened for a fraction of a second then closed ... just enough time for my head to go through it. Luckily my neck had not reached the opening yet or I could have been another statistic.

The people on the platform could not believe what they had just seen and helped get the door open. I reported the incident to metro. I was too shell-shocked to get the train number, but knew what time it had been dispatched from Huntington (it was after rush-hour, so it would be trivial to pinpoint what train # and conductor from their logs).

Of course metro never resolved the incident. Claiming that they were unable to determine who was running that train.

Anonymous said...

Tim, I do not need to know nor care about the dirty laundry of whether an employee was fired or not. I care about seeing improvement in attitude and action. Telling me someone got fired does nothing for me. Don't tell me. Show me. Show me the other employees improving.

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