Saturday, April 26, 2014

Did your PRESTO card snap? Submit a photo of your broken card and be entered to win a $25 Starbucks or Keg gift card

Please submit a photo of your snapped or split card to Please include how long you owned the card and the approximate date it snapped. As an incentive, from all the pictures I receive, I will conduct a random draw from all the entries for a $25 Starbucks gift card or a $25 Keg gift card. 

Please submit your pic by September 30, 2014. The draw will be held October 1, 2014. The winner agrees to meet me in the GO Concourse at Union Station on October 2nd, 2014 at at time to be arranged to collect the gift card and hopefully agree to a photo for the winner's circle.

Good luck!

  1. Presto says only a few calls a month about broken cards out of 1 million cardholders. Can't do story without proof.

    Tweet text
    Image will appear as a link

Out of 1 million PRESTO cards, what's a few snapped cards, right?

According to Metrolinx media relations, PRESTO reports less than 10 card breakages a month. PRESTO did not identify if this figure includes cards where the chip stopped working or if it's card that split in two. In a two-week period, we (we being myself, @GOvoygr and @MichaelSuddard) found seven people on Twitter alone with split or snapped cards. We know there are more. We know it's not less than 10 a month. PRESTO does not warranty the card for this kind of breakage. If your card stops tapping, it will be replaced at no charge. 

PRESTO also won't tell us what they consider normal wear and tear to be. My card split in two after being replaced 10 months earlier. It was always kept in my wallet and only removed for tapping and inspection purposes. I did not use it as an ice scraper or as a personal toothpick. It was a well looked after card.

I have an Air Miles card that is 17 years old, and unlike my PRESTO card, it's a card that has been loose in my purse, thrown into pockets, left in a couch, tossed from one wallet to another and it's still kicking. I think I may have used it as an ice scraper at least once.

Photo taken with tweet for authenticity.

GO Transit, nor does PRESTO, does not ask customers to turn in their broken cards. What does that tell you? 

Second, GO Transit does not replace broken cards. When your card splits in two, you have to fork out $6 for a new one and.... AND ... wait 24 hours for any balance on your old card to transfer to the new card. When your bank card stops working, you aren't expected to wait 24 hours to access your money, are you?


Bicky said...

My card hasn't snapped. I keep it in a card holder. Now I've probably jinxed myself.

I did see one guy show his card for inspection and it was warped beyond belief. I think it might have gone through the washer and dryer. I should have asked him.

Michael Suddard said...

The only thing I would add to this post is to clarify what happens when your Presto card cracks and get it replaced as well as a little background to the Twitter conversation.

I personally witnessed this process being undertaken and then explained by an OC Transpo Rep to the lady in front of me in line at the Rideau Centre Sales Centre when I was there obtaining my OC Transpo Monthly pass. (Footnote: Yes, I do not trust Presto's online refill either as most Ottawan's would concur with monthly pass lines not shortening even after coming up on the 1 year anniversary of Presto in Ottawa). The process of replacing a broken Presto Card with OC Transpo April Monthly pass as of April 18th:


1. Customer handed over broken card to OC Transpo Sales Centre Rep. It was cracked half way through exactly like others pictured in your post.

2. Customer explained that she had a monthly pass for April 2014 on it and was looking to replace it.

What needed to happen according to OC Transpo Sales Rep:

3. Customer would need to pay $6.00 for new card plus load a minimum of $10 on the card. Presto only sells cards now with a minimum of $10.00 balance on them now plus the $6.00 fee. Total cost for new card: $16.00

4. Customer was to NOT register the new card with Presto as others who had done so were unable to obtain passes or balance transferred from old to new.

5. Call Presto Customer service after 24 to 48 hours to begin transfer process. OC Transpo was unable to do this despite there being both the clearly identifiable old cracked card and the pristine new card in their possession.

6. After the end of the month the reimbursement could be obtained from old card to new card for difference in cost.

The lady ahead of me was flummoxed. (Yes, flummoxed!) I don't even think she could see straight and was speechless she was so flummoxed and dumbfounded.

Michael Suddard said...

The OC Transpo rep noticed this and continued on saying that OC Transpo had no control over these card replacement rules and was entirely a Presto issue as per the contract OC Transpo signed with Metrolinx.

I looked at her and said, after seeing the issue develop over Twitter in the previous days, that this was an issue that others were experiencing with their Presto Cards. She inquired as to what could be done about it. OC Transpo rep said she should contact her local councillor on this issue if Presto wasn't getting back to her. I said her best bet, if her local city councillor didn't work, was to contact Ottawa Councillor Diane Deans who is the Chairperson of the Ottawa Transit Committee who overseas OC Transpo's operations and signed off on the Presto deal.

During the Twitter conversation CJ mentions, Ellen Roseman was brought back in. Why? Presto was not answering the question if the card cracking issue was an ongoing problem and if it was due to "wear and tear." It was at this point Ellen brought in Metrolinx's Anne Marie Aikens (@femwriter) who, as of Friday morning, promised answers.

CJ, notably, promised to publish on her blog the answers to her questions if Metrolinx sent her anything. I suppose, even after a days work, nothing has been forthcoming as I'm sure CJ would have posted it.

Mid day Friday we received 4 bafflegab tweets from @Prestocard saying they had already answered the Question about the delay from loading a Presto Card. Um...yes we did but that was not what we were getting at. GO Voyageur and others were trying to figure out the cracking issue.

I called them on this by pointing out this was simply nothing but the continuation of spin control as exhibited by the historical examples of the 2012 Auditor General report on Presto and Metrolinx. Even Steve Munro called their coments on the AG Report as "boiler plate". I also basically told Presto Card to "cut the crap" and it's time for real answers.

I also noted to Presto Card that I found it funny that their response only came after the press had to be called so we could get answers.

Michael Suddard said...

We received a few Friday afternoon from Anne Marie as well, she of course reiterated the delay issue saying it was already covered. She even gave us the Metrolinx communications approved Youtube video.

I almost lost it of course as this issue had already been dealt with.

She also said it had been a busy day and that she was intending to work on it.

I pointed out to her, in full blazing glory, that it must have been a busy couple of weeks at Presto as we had been awaiting answers.

CJ, GOvoygr and I are still waiting for some answers from Anne Marie Aikens and Presto Card even after being waiting on Friday.

The only real significant move forward was that Presto averages 10 broken cards a month. As CJ noted in the blog post, we don't know if this is a chip or cracking issue or both.

To make things simpler, I even inquired to Anne Marie Aikens if we could get the totals for the total number of cards in active service (i.e. used on a regular basis) and how many damaged. I inquired on the active as I know myself I have personally have 6 Presto cards in my house with only 2 in active use. Why the additional 4? Because OC Transpo was handing them out for free when they first launched with no questions asked and I knew the snafus at Presto in Ottawa would probably continue.

Another question I'm still awaiting answers for is the whole broken card scenario noted above. Why can't Presto and OC Transpo merely do the transfer if the customer brings in the broken card and exchanges it for a new one?

Presto and Anne Marie has yet to answer these two important concepts. The cracking numbers as a percentage of active cards in use and the delay of replacing cracked cards. I suppose these easy to answer questions may not be answered by Metrolinx or Presto as they are simply either to embarrassing or answers have yet to go through the Metrolinx approved multi step process of spin control.

I, of course, will await patiently for a little while for Anne Marie Aikens and/or Presto Card to answer these questions. But of course, I guess I could easily forward these to Diane Deans of OC Transpo to follow up as these answers may not be forthcoming.

As CJ said to Ellen on Twitter, there is so much drama here there ain't enough popcorn!

Anonymous said...

Just more proof that Presto can't do anything right.

Even the big banks (despite their fees and other abuses) would actually replace your card free of charge and no need to wait 24 hours to transfer balances.

Anonymous said...

In York Region, they have Presto appreciation events where they will waive the $6 issuing fee as long as you load >$10 and register it on the spot.

The link is here

Peter said...

I saw the same last summer, and the cardholder admitted that was exactly what had happened to her warped card. Two drivers and I were amazed the card still worked given how fragile they are.

Anonymous said...

the way you guys were going at anne and presto on twitter would constitute harrassment, all of you should be ashamed of yourselves.

C.J. Smith said...

^ Says some unknown Metrolinx minion.

I can track my traffic you know.

Nice try.

See you on the beach, boys!

Michael Suddard said...

"the way you guys were going at anne and presto on twitter would constitute harrassment, all of you should be ashamed of yourselves."


at least we keep pressing for answers unlike the Auditor General in 2012 who merely gave up trying to get a response for the issues he presented in his investigation and printed the Metrolinx glad handing back slapping drivel.

We are looking for answers and solutions as to why these cards are breaking and why they take so long to get a new card activated and working again from a sales centre/train station.

Peter said...

Since Metrolinx falls under the purview of the MTO, they are responsible to us the taxpayers of this province. Hence, when Metrolinx's handsomely paid staff ( are asked questions, they'd better respond accurately and in a timely fashion. To do any less is insubordination. We expect someone earning $115K+ to fill their day with more than retweeting on Twitter.

Outburst said...

Will the people whose broken card photos you already have be included in this draw?

C.J. Smith said...

Yes but not anyone who have since removed the pics of their broken cards off Twitter. I don't know why one person decided to do that. Metrolinx works for the taxpayer. There's nothing to be afraid of.

Outburst said...

Also, in terms of why it sucks for the GO rider, is that you lose all your fare history including loyalty steps. I would have taken well over 40 trips this month and had a few free rides as a result, but with the card snapping, that all goes kaput and I lose out.
Anyone know what will happen to me at tax time next year? If I lose 3.5 months of PRESTO purchases on my tax receipt I will hit the roof!

C.J. Smith said...

Outburst, if I haven't already contacted you via Twitter, please ensure you submit your entry via email to so I have them all in one place.

Second, having lost a card and suffered a broken card, I never lost loyalty steps as PRESTO was able to both times - but not without half a dozen phone calls and involving some senior GO Transit Custom Relations people - transfer my loyalty steps. Your transaction usage will move over to the new card - that is automatic - provided your card was registered. If you're using it for tax purposes, you have to register it.

matt said...

Will the Starbucks gift card arrive in one piece, or two?

C.J. Smith said...

Considering I have a Starbucks reloadable rewards card in my wallet that is close to 3 years old, I am confident the gift card is PRESTO card proof.

Outburst said...

I'll contact you.
Despite transferring the balance to my new card it still shows no history for the old card.
Sigh, I guess I'll have to waste more time on a call with PRESTO agents.

Outburst said...

Well I guess the devil IS in the details.
From PRESTO's FAQ on transferring to a new card:

When you replace your card by mail, all of your card details (including your balance, passes, registration information, child/student/senior fare status, Autoload/Autorenew/Requested Reload accounts, language preference, loyalty trips and default trip status) will be transferred to your card.

When you purchase a new card and transfer your balance by calling PRESTO, all of your card details except loyalty trips and default trip status will be transferred to your card.

I called rather than mailing, which I guess makes me SOL. Grrr.

C.J. Smith said...

Don't give up. Call GO Transit. First and foremost, you are a GO Transit customer using a product GO licences. GO needs to help you with PRESTO. The CSRs at GO can be really great to work with and I don't have anything but nice things to say about them. Don't be afraid to go up the chain to Paula Edwards. The staff directory is at this link

Frank E Futor said...

Allow me to encourage you to follow-up with GO Transit management as Cindy recommended. I just fired off an e-mail to Greg Percy regarding yet another PRESTO deficiency within GO Transit.

Michael Suddard said...

Couple of follow up notes.

Metrolinx has removed the "staff directory" CJ linked to. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that CJ's link now redirects to the senior executive staff contact information.

Next, I tried following up with Anne Marie Aikens this morning on my OC Transpo questions but noticed on her twitter feed that she was on vacation in Burlington as per this posting on her twitter:

I noted this to CJ and GO Voygr on Twitter. Shortly there after, Anne Marie Aikens says "Feels like stalking, all questions answered.

Um..., no that is not stalking when you publicly post you went to Burlington on vacation. I just noted you may not respond to the outstanding questions for a bit as you were PUBLICLY declared on vacation.

I then followed up with my outstanding questions:

If a cracked Prestocard is turned at a sales centre why then does it take 24 to 48 hours to transfer the balance from old card to new card?

She then said:
"Pls direct your questions to appropriate department rather than media relations. Thx"

But Anne, we were directed to you by the Toronto Star's Ellen Roseman over this entire card cracking issue after hearing nothing in return of substance to answer the important questions about this entire issue from Metrolinx's Prestocard twitter account.

So I tweeted back to Anne Marie whom to contact. Should it be a Diane Deans, Chair of the Ottawa's Transit Committee or a member of the press?

I didn't bother to wait for Anne Marie to get back to me. I picked up the phone to see if calling Presto would help... More on that in next post.

Michael Suddard said...

I called Presto Customer Service next.

I pushed "1" for new user and worked my way through the options trying to get to a live operator. You can't do that, not even by pressing "0" or mashing the keypad with your fat fingers.

I tried "2" and worked my way through options and periodically tried the "0" function. You can't do that either. Eventually I found something that put me through to Kim who picked up after 2 rings.

I asked her my question and together worked our way through the process of replacing the cracked card. Here is the step by step:

1. You turn in your card at Sales Centre / GO Train Station.

2. Rep gives you new card for $6 for new card plus, if it is in Ottawa at least (no sure about GO Transit) , $10 minimum balance to load.

a) Rep will then inform Presto system about removal of old card. The main computer system then updates all Presto readers as they update on a regular basis.

b) Rep will then inform of new card to Presto main system and system will update from there as buses move in and out of regular updates.

3. Call Presto to do a transfer to new card of old pass. OC Transpo staff are unable to this part as it has to be done behind the scenes at Metrolinx / Presto area.

4. Presto will then need 24 to 48 hours to update system.

5. If you use less than the $10.00 load (from Step #2) in the 24 to 48 hours you can use the leftover on the next month's pass. Be sure to load your next month's pass on at sales centre / station to load the value.

Koodos to Kim for clearing this up in less than 3 minutes with easy to understand step by step answers.

Squiggles said...

Good for you guys for taking up the gauntlet. This hasn't happened to myself or anyone I know, but based on the information provided, it really is only a matter of time.

Sidenote: if you are going to post on twitter that you are on vacation, then you lose all rights to claim "stalking" when called on it.

Anonymous said...

I've got you beat. My Air Miles card was issued to me in 1993 and it is still intact. I use it every week when grocery shopping and getting gas too.