Monday, November 4, 2013

Ali Gator gets his refund for that disastrous Double Decker Thanksgiving weekend ride home but problems still remain with Presto in compliance with GO's Passenger Charter

From AG
to MGary,
Dear M.

Thank you for investigating my Service Guarantee claim and resolving it in the only manner possible.  I accept your apology on behalf of Metrolix and their culpability for all root causes leading to this matter.

Whereas Metrolinx appreciates that I "may disagree with the 15-minute requirement", let there be no doubt that I totally disagree with it in this case.  I do not comprehend the assertion that it "would be very difficult to identify which trains customers were riding".  Whether I tapped on one minute after the 16:42 train left or one minute before the 17:37 train arrived, there was only one train I could have boarded legitimately, namely, the17:37.  No?  What other options were available to me?  Why can't the $700,000,000 PRESTO system recognize that?  And why did the trip eligibility facility determine that the trip from Burlington to Union was due for a refund but not my trip from Burlington to Pickering?  This PRESTO "solution" smacks of failure on all fronts.  Do Metrolinx head office personnel take field trips with bus drivers to see what front-line staff deals with on a daily basis with PRESTO?

Let there be no doubt, the Service Guarantee claims adjudication process is a sham.  If my claim was denied because of the 15-minute rule, why didn't the e-mail response say that instead of "trip information provided on the claim form does not correspond to your PRESTO card’s trip history"?  How does that response comply with the Passenger Charter wherein GO Transit promises they will be clear and consistent in their communications?  May I suggest that future automated Service Guarantee claims failures be forwarded to Customer Relations for investigation and follow-up, so as to avoid nonsensical e-mails being sent to irate clients?

Instead of exploring “ways of making the process easier for all customers", Metrolinx needs to expedite ways of making the process easier for all customers!

You are quite welcome for my "valuable feedback".  To whom shall I submit my invoice for future advice?  As my accountant reminds me, I am not a registered charity.  Perhaps Mr. McNeil can provide guidance on matters pertaining to accounts payable.


On 10/24/2013 10:23 AM, M wrote:
October 24, 2013

Reference No: 2013053864

Dear Mr. AG:

Thank you for your email regarding your Service Guarantee claim.  I appreciate your patience while I investigated your concerns.

Firstly, I would like to apologize for the inconvenience you experienced using our service on October 11th.  Unfortunately, your Service Guarantee claim was not approved because you tapped on at Burlington GO more than 15 minutes prior to the next scheduled train departure.

I can appreciate that you may disagree with the 15-minute requirement.  However when designing the Service Guarantee Program, we had to establish a threshold across the system to identify who was on the train. Without having a threshold of 15 minutes, it would be very difficult to identify which trains customers were riding.  When determining this threshold policy, we looked at travel patterns and noticed that the majority of our customers tap on with their PRESTO card 5 to 10 minutes before departure.  I understand that it can be an inconvenience for those who tap on earlier and we will continue to explore ways of making the process easier for all customers.

Given the extenuating circumstances, I have resubmitted your claim and your PRESTO card will be credited $12.22 the next time you tap.

Thank you for providing us with your valuable feedback.


Customer Service Representative

Cc.       Gary McNeil, President, GO Transit
            C. J. Smith, Web Publisher,

From: M
Sent: Monday, October 21, 2013 10:30 AM
To: 'ag'
Cc: Gary McNeil
Subject: GO Transit, A Division of Metrolinx

October 21, 2013

Reference No: 2013053864

Dear Mr. AG:

Thank you for your email.  I am currently investigating your concerns and will respond when I have more information.  I appreciate your patience during this time.


Customer Service Representative

Cc.       Gary McNeil, President, GO Transit

From: AG
Sent: Friday, October 18, 2013 9:03 PM
To: Customer Relations
Cc: Gary McNeil; C.J. Smith
Subject: Re: GO Train Service Guarantee update

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please convey to the adjudicator for this claim that I reject their rejection.  I have escalated the matter to a higher authority via the following trip report:
On 10/13/2013 8:40 PM, wrote:
Your claim #FG13101210156311 has not been processed.

The trip information provided on the claim form does not correspond to your PRESTO card’s trip history. Please submit a new claim, and ensure that the trip information provided is correct.

Thank you,
GO Transit

This email was auto-generated, please do not reply. For more information on the GO Train Service Guarantee, please

© GO Transit 2012


Bicky said...

This reminds me, I think I still have an outstanding claim for a delay from September sometime.

My beef with the tapping is that there's no clock to indicate what time you're tapping your card. My watch says I'm within the 15 minutes but Presto tells me I'm two minutes early. I told them once I think they purposely run the time slow.

Machu said...

Do Metrolinx head office personnel take field trips with bus drivers to see what front-line staff deals with on a daily basis with PRESTO?

The answer is "not that I know of"
Although we do have a PRESTO incident report that we can fill and submit.
BUT like you said for a $700 million investment I should not have to submit a form.

Squiggles said...

I agree with your points. But I do understand the tapping issue to a point. For instance, there are 4 LSE trains that leave Union in a 25 min period. In that instance, the 15 mins makes sense. Otherwise, some deductive reasoning should apply.

But Metrolinx will do what Metrolinx wants to do, all of which screws over the poor schlubs that need to use PRESTO.

Anonymous said...

I usually agree with posts here, but this one seems a little over the top. They credited the account. Rules are rules. The poor person answering email isn't the one making them up.

Ali said...

@Bicky: Does the time on the departures/arrivals monitor correspond to your tap ON in the PRESTO transaction history?

@Machu: I worked for a Point of Sale solutions company over 20 years ago. System reliability was job #1. PRESTO’s current bus PoS solution that loses trip reports and ticket printers that jam are unacceptable, especially on trips where the running time was cut by 10 minutes by head office.

@Squiggles: I accept the 15-minute rule in the scenario you painted. When travelling in the reverse direction, I tap ON no more than 10 minutes before departure, but that has more to do with the 2.5 hour travel window, another lovely PRESTO feature.

@Anonymous: I believe you missed the point. The rebuttal was not for the messenger, rather, their management.

TT said...

The issue is presto was not set up to provide refunds. This policy was imposed by McGinty after Presto was built, so they had to come up with some method to make it happen (and not cost a fortune). Ideal breeding ground for the imperfect solution.

Machu said...

I agree with you reliability should be #1 but we all know that's not the case, keep in mind PRESTO was supposed to be just for GO to replace the old DATAFARE ticketing system they had in place since the early 90's, it was not intended to be used by any other transit system or to be used for late trip refunds...oh wait it gets better GO will soon be rolling out a new AVL system for buses that will have the capability to give you instant updates on any particular route and how long till the next bus.

Ali said...

Thank you for your insights.

Is that the same AVL system that (i) was installed in the new DD’s a few months ago, (ii) failed last week thereby crippling the DD’s, and (iii) forced MCI’s to deadhead to Niagara Falls in the middle of the night? I wonder how much that outage cost.

It sounds like the whole business architecture is overly complex and not scalable resulting in fragile technological solutions. If retail merchants lost transactions and reports the way the PRESTO Thales PoS terminal does, merchants would switch banks. I travel with a Swiss Army Knife that I offer to drivers to clear jammed printers. It’s almost 2014; there’s no reason for printers to function that poorly.

Machu said...


LOL...thanks for the laugh about your Swiss Army knife I actually carry Duct Tape and lots of it.
I think you are old enough to remember when Renault and Peugeot were still sold in Canada, If the French could not build a good car with decent electronics how can you expect them to build a half decent PoS!
They could have saved 700 Million dollars just by accepting Tim's cards instead of Presto and instead of refunds they could give you free coffee while you wait for the next train/bus.

No that is a different one, DD's have a geofencing AVL that disables the vehicle as soon as it steps outside a prescribed area.

Peter said...

I'm still laughing about your duct tape! I trust it's the official GO green variety. (Inside joke on Route 12.)

Tim's cards instead of PRESTO ... That's a brilliant idea! Although the drivers down here wouldn't serve coffee. They rely on ... Never mind.

Does the new AVL drive the GPS displays I've seen on some buses?