Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Oh PRESTO card, why you so hard?

By Guest Blogger Peter S.

It’s with some amusement and much disappointment that another shootout happened at the Twitter Corral the other week with @PRESTOcard, @ThisCrazyTrain, @MichaelSuddard, @GOvoygr, @femwriter, and @ellenroseman participating.  At issue, initially, was @PRESTOcard not responding to questions about cracking cards and the warranty on their cards.  The Toronto Star’s Ellen Roseman (@ellenroseman) asked for clarifications from Metrolinx’s Media relations manager (@femwriter), who responded with the following before heading off on vacation:

I don’t recall any answer being provided in regard to PRESTO’s warranty on their cards.  After returning from vacation @femwriter washed her hands of the matter with the following terse statement:

Where have I seen this game of “ignore the customer” before?  Ah, yes, I remember, now!  Two years ago, I asked questions about PRESTO discounts, specifically, the following clause in the section labelled What are GO Transit fares with PRESTO? on this page:

If you do not take the exact same trip each time you travel on GO within a calendar month, your first 35 rides on GO will be 10% off the single adult GO fare paper ticket. For rides 36 and onwards, your discount will be based on the value of the rides you’ve taken that month.

I don’t know about you, but I found that statement rather nebulous, so I engaged the assistance of Customer Relations.  I’ll spare you the details of the entire dialogue; at the time there were multiple issues with that Web page.  Let’s pick up the conversation with the following e-mail:

Subject: Re: Reference No: 20120092xx
From: Peter S
Date: 5/3/2012 4:43 PM
To: EH

Hello E,
Thank you for responding to my query about the discount schedule posted at  I wasn't concerned about the discounts applied to my trips; RA explained the calculations in great detail previously.  My issue was more with the apparent lack of testing that exercises prior to turning their Web site lose on the unsuspecting public.

At your convenience, could you share with me a concrete example to illustrate the second last sentence in your e-mail, please?  It's not clear to me how "For rides 36 and onwards, your discount will be based on the value of the rides you’ve taken that month" is quantified.

Thank you for your assistance.


Ms. H responded as follows:

Subject: GO Transit ( A Division of Metrolinx )
From: "EH"
Date: 5/7/2012 6:07 PM

May 07, 2012
Fax: (416) 869-1662

Reference No: 20120092xx

Dear Peter:

Thank you for responding to my email dated May 3rd.

I made an attempt to reach you by telephone on May 4th but was unsuccessful.  However, I left a voice message for you.

As per my voicemail, if you have a PRESTO fare card and travel throughout our system on different train/bus routes throughout the month, then the discount for rides 36 or over will be based on the average per trip cost of the adult rides you have taken from ride 1-35.

I am happy to report to you that after submitting the chart that you sent us to PRESTO, and to prevent other enquiries regarding the loyalty calculations, PRESTO has disabled the chart.

I appreciate you bringing your concerns to our attention and again thank you for your continued support and patience.

Customer Service Representative

After playing with some numbers using Ms, H’s “average per trip cost” scheme, I decided to call her on May 9 for further clarification.  Ms. H immediately forwarded my call to her supervisor (whose name I never did get), a male with a foreign accent and a condescending attitude, not only toward me, but Ms. H, too.  

This supervisor stated categorically that the discount “is NOT based on a simple average; it’s more complex than that”.  I asked him what the formula is used to calculate the discount.  I was told it would take some time to get the details, but if I would submit an e-mail on the matter, an answer would be provided.  I told him there was already an open incident on the matter, and that he could provide his answer to me via Ms. Ha.  Begrudgingly, he agreed and ended the call.

So, here I am two years later still waiting for an answer.  Apparently, history repeats itself when dealing with “relations” managers at Metrolinx, who would rather ignore issues than live up to the GO Transit Passenger Charter

Queue the music.


Squiggles said...

Well, all this does is to provide the proof that Customer Service is all smoke and mirrors. I mean, why provide it and/or answer questions when people are forced to use your crappy cards and shoddy service?

Really, it has become another Liberal Boondoggle.

TT said...

They don't want us to know that Presto was slapped together with duct tape and rope. All for the low low price of $700,000,000.

Outburst said...

Really didn't need the detail about the manager's foreign accent. That's completely irrelevant.
But apart from your obvious political stripes and cultural comments, I agree with the bulk of what you have written.

George said...

@TT - It was dollar store duct tape too.

I'd also like to know exactly which part of the post is biased politically?

Presto is a screwup that is rapidly reaching eHealth scale. No politics involved at all here, just customers demanding answers.

Squiggles said...

@ George,

I was wondering that too. I am thinking TT took my Liberal Boondoggle comment and assigned it to the author of the email.

And it is not a political comment per se, as Metrolinx came into existence because of the Liberals and/or during their tenure.

TT said...

It doesn't matter what party is in power, there are boondoggles from every government no matter what colour their logo is. This is about the arrogance of those in power, the lack of oversight into large scale projects and lack of accountability of those running crown corporations and agencies.

Much of the mess that is Presto is being keep secret because it was outsourced. The details of the contract "can't" be released because of economic damage to Accenture that might result. It's an insult to democracy IMO.