Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today I learned that Presto and GO are not integrated when it comes to fare resolution

On Tuesday, I had to override my trip home as I had been driven to Ajax after a company event downtown. I pressed the override button, tapped and got off at Oshawa. At Oshawa, I tapped on the bus and tapped off when I reached home.

Did you spot the mistake? Yeah, I didn't tap off when I got off the train, so a $4.68 fare became $12.78, as I was charged full fare to Newcastle -- the end of the road on the LSE.

This morning, I waited in line at GO Transit Customer Service in Union Station and had time to ponder, as the line snaked its way through, why I was unable to correct this fare mishap online or over the phone. Over the phone meant being mailed a credit voucher - no thanks. I'm moving and don't plan on forwarding my mail so not a good idea as it could take weeks. PRESTO was supposed to prevent line-ups. Yet, here I am, in line, to ask for a refund and also, observing a large amount of people looking to resolve under-payments and adding fare to their e-wallets. It's archaic.

I've never had a fare reversal issued before so imagine my surprise when the agent, after reviewing my mistake, he pulled out a paper and a pen.

What fresh hell is this?

I filled out my portion of the form which asked for my name and phone number and I was puzzled that there is no database application for these agents to use to collect this information. My personal information is there with the PRESTO card, is it not? I know the agent used my card to review the transactions and I have a feeling that's all he can see. This means there is no integration within Metrolinx's organization. Walking to work, it then dawned on me why those of us who use credit cards to either autoload or load fare also can't have credits applied back to our credit cards, kind of like what Ticketmaster does when a concert is cancelled. Quite simply, neither GO Transit or PRESTO can because they don't record or store this credit card information. Moneris does. Moneris processes credit card payments for PRESTO online. I don't think PRESTO has an arrangement to do chargebacks. I know it can be expensive.

In other words, there is no ONE system for GO Transit to handle PRESTO fare reversals, refunds or credits. And the reason why it takes so long for refunds due to delays to happen is because I bet at least three forms have to be filled out and processed by at least three different departments and then someone at GO Transit manually processes the credit to each PRESTO card.

Who built this dinosaur? Oh wait, right, the same government where we learned via a Toronto Star article that Metrolinx is mandated to take the lowest bid on any infrastructure project. So of course PRESTO was handed over to the lowest bidder and you know what your nana always said, "You get what you pay for."


Squiggles said...

Can't say I am surprised. Why else does it take 5 days to find out if you can get a credit back for a delayed train?

April said...

"Yet, here I am, in line, to ask for a refund and also, observing a large amount of people looking to resolve under-payments and adding fare to their e-wallets. It's archaic."

It may be archaic but I don't have money disappear from my bank account or charges on my credit card that don't result in accessible funds on my Presto. I got burned once and now I go to the window every time I need to put money on my Presto.

And you CAN get them to refund the funds to your credit card, but it is a long, drawn out process that involves several phone calls, heated discussions, a letter to head office, the IT department (I am not sure they enter the game), a big headache, and a lot of alcohol. I don't recommend it.

Bicky said...

@Squiggles, I'm happy to confirm the last two credits I applied for were approved within 3 days!

But yeah, it makes no sense that Presto and GO are like a divorced couple living in the same house.

C.J. Smith said...

Oh I know why people line up to load because loading online results in a delay where is Presto-land 24 hours is equivalent to three days for us in Canada.

Squiggles said...

I wait in line to load now. I used to load online, even with the 24 hour period, it still made life easy. Until they took $100 and didn't apply it to my card. Took 5 days and 3 phone calls. Waiting in line for 5mins not that big a deal compared to the hassle of waiting for money to be credited and/or returned.

@ Bicky: woohoo! Maybe things are looking up? Or your hamster wheel was turning better than the ones I got.

Anonymous said...

This isn't meant to sound snarky, but why not autoload?

I have mine set to autoload $XX amount when my pre-loaded portion dips below $XY, taking into account that Presto may take its sweet time adding the money to the actual account.

I've yet to have a problem in +1.5 years.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Can Presto do anything right.

Why is it that government agencies in particular make you jump so many hoops just to obtain a desired result. This is red tape at its worst.

C.J. Smith said...

Oh man ... autoload has proven to have issues.

Has your credit card expired at any point during your amazing autoload experience? Here's the thing you can't say yes and try to convince all was well because NOPE.

My Twitter posse has debunked this. Your autoload will cease to work and you will have to sign up for autoload again. PRESTO does not store your credit card info. They do not notify you that your card is about to expire or call you for new info.

Make sure you call or stand in line 30 days before and get this updated or else autoload will fail.

April said...

Anonymous @1:24,

I am happy you have had a good experience. I didn't. They had some glitch in their system (one of many) that meant they took the money from my card but never applied it to my daughter's Presto. I called and called and they said it was there, just tap on or use the balance checker. I would call back and they told me it was there.

Then the card went into negative because the money never showed up (days later) and they told me it wouldn't show up until I cleared the negative balance. That was when I went nuclear. The school year was over at that point and the kid didn't need the Presto card all summer.

Never again. I would rather stand in line.

Anonymous said...

Or, you can use PRESTO correctly. Why should GO have to pay for your irresponsibility? Its an expensive mistake you won't do again. Maybe they use the long process to waste idiots time for being so careless. This is your money on your presto card. Know how to use it before ... Using it.

Ya can't fix stupid.

C.J. Smith said...

Does this apply to your bank when you accidentally pay your water bill twice online, or by Web banking, when you meant to pay hydro? You wouldn't try to get your money back?
Has nothing to do with stupidity.

Anonymous said...

GO doesn't pay anything. PRESTO takes your money and gives it GO. GO has to go through hoops to try to get your money back and you're a jerk anonymous. There are many PRESTO users who use the card as intended who have been hosed with false under payments and fares incorrectly calculated. GO was just fine with monthly passes. Nobody paid more. Nobody sat on the phone for hours. Oh and what does not being able to fix stupid have to do with online loads that take three business days to appear when you tap your card?

Karen said...

Sigh. As a Torontonian temporarily living in London (UK) for the past year... I am not looking forward to this upon my return. Why couldn't they just go with a system that has been proven to work? If you register your Oyster card (London's Presto equivalent - which, fun fact, can be used on buses/tubes/DLR/Overground and National rail services within the London Zones) you can log in online and it will automatically tell you if you're entitled to a refund (didn't tap out etc.) and you click and apply for it (you can only apply once a month...but hey, the system makes it easy and it's rare for these things to happen)and you click your option (couldn't find reader, forgot, etc.) and presto (no pun intended?) it's on your card the next time you tap in at your chosen station. You can also load either pay as you go or travel cards online and it will be there the next day(you choose the day and station in which you'll pick up your funds when you tap in). I know there's a longer process for refunds of travel cards etc. that does take longer, but I think it still works pretty seamlessly even though I haven't experienced it myself. The day to day with it is easy as pie though. Presto it seems could learn a lot from London. Guess I will relish all that public transit has to offer while I can for the next year and hope that things have changed by the time I'm back home.

Anonymous said...

Exact same thing happened to me. I didn't know (not stupidity) that I had to tap off a GO train and tap on a GO bus at the same station. Why? They're both GO. Isn't it all one system?
They got me for $20.78 when the fare should have been $9.90. I called and they will get back to me in 2-3 business days.

Anonymous said...

thats why i missed my monthly pass. i dont have to worry about auto loading, or tapping on or tapping off our double tapping from different entrance and next thing your double charge. they shld create an app with your tap history and notify you if you have to tap off! i shld probably build that for them and charge them $$$$$

Peter said...

In days of yore, the only way to not tap off a train and tap on a bus was if you had set a default trip with that station as a terminus. Otherwise, the tap on the bus would be caught with a "card error", and the driver would tell the passenger to go back to the station to tap off and come back to the bus.

Unknown said...

The evening of April 16th 2015 I tapped on at Union and tapped off at Stouffville. I walked towards the parking lot and thought (erroneously) that I had forgotten to tap off - so I walked back and tapped again- and then was overcharged $5.30 for a trip I would never make. The GO transit staff are not great at dealing with this. The kiosk staff at Stouffville wanted to charge me another $4.25 to close the trip and seek a refund at Union - (they never could explain to me where the $4.25 came from) not a great solution. Tapping on at Stouffville at 6:07 p.m. you can ONLY go to the next stop (Linconville) the train does not run to Union in the evenings !!! Max charge in reality from Stouffville to Linconville is just over a $1 but as this blog recognizes- the presto fares are NOT synchronized to the actual train schedules and it leaves riders on the hook to deal with fare resolution not as a matter of fact or common sense- but entirely at the discretion of GO Transit personnel. I called the GO Transit support line and they were almost rude, again it is my responsibility per Presto Agreement and of course the system charged me the maximum trip
(right -a trip that did not exist) but at least the GO Trasit CSA out of union was able to explain that the extra $4.25 was the PAPER rate which is more than the Presto rate - I wish Stouffville could have explained at least that much. Communication is everything.