Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is Metro Stealing?

Metro steals from us every day with ludicrous fares, but the story below reminds me of this.

I wonder if Metro is banking on a certain percentage of people just not bothering to get their money back.

Have you been ripped off by Metro in ways other than sky-high fares?

From Sarah:
On Sept. 7, I was on my way to work at the Silver Spring station around 6:15-6:20 in the morning. My SmarTrip card was empty, so I went to fill it up using one of the machines.

I had no cash, so I tried to use my credit card to add $20. I noticed the machine was taking a really long time to process the transaction. Eventually, it said “unable to process transaction.”

So I figured that particular machine wasn’t accepting credit cards and that the transaction hadn’t gone through. My SmarTrip still indicated it had a balance of $0.

I went around to the other side of the station to use a different machine and got the same error, but this time it was clear I wasn’t the only one having this problem – no one could get their credit/debit cards to load money onto a SmarTrip.

Every machine gave the same error – “unable to process transaction.” Again, my SmarTrip indicated that the balance was $0.

I gave up, and went across the street to CVS to use the ATM so I could put $20 in cash on my SmarTrip. I was a little late for work and irritated, as usual, at Metro’s inability to keep their machines running. But whatever, it wasn’t my worst experience with Metro.

Well, two days later I checked my bank account, and guess what? Two $20 charges on my account for Silver Spring station!


Somehow the “unable to process transaction” error translated to “we’re taking your money, but not putting it on your SmarTrip card.”

I was furious.

I called WMATA customer service. The woman checked my card, said that there hadn’t been any activity. (No sh*t, considering no money ever made it on my SmarTrip.) and I’d have to call Metro’s Credit and Debit Office.

I’ve called this office at least ten times in the last week DURING NORMAL WORK HOURS, and no one has ever answered the phone. The answering machine picks up every time.

The message gives no indication of their hours. You would think that calling periodically between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. that someone would eventually answer the phone.

I’ve left several messages, but obviously with Metro’s stellar customer service, no one has gotten back to me. I’m not sure who to contact next.

I’ve reached the end with Metro. I’ve dealt with rude station managers, constantly late trains, filthy compartments, and a generally mismanaged system almost every day for the last two years.

But essentially stealing my money is the last straw.

I will be driving to work indefinitely, and until I get some kind of response from Metro in an attempt to right this situation, they will not get another dime of my money.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? Does this Credit and Debit Office actually exist or is it a facade to placate angry customers?

Also wondering if any other readers were at Silver Spring last week and had the same problem?
Other items:
Metro execs get company cars (Examiner)
Alexandria to ask Metro to change King St. to King St.-Old Town (Gazette)
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