I’m pretty much a rule follower. So when I didn’t get my new Ventra card in the mail in August like I was told I would, I called the CTA and then Ventra. They told me that they were running behind, but sit tight and it would come.
It still hasn’t come, so I went online to order one. That one arrived, but it won’t activate without some PIN number that I don’t have. They tell me (in writing) that I set it up when I purchased the card. Well, I use the same PIN for almost everything and that’s not what it is. I tried logging back on and that didn’t work. I e-mailed Ventra after I called 100 times and couldn’t get through and I haven’t heard back.
Beyond all of that, my Chicago Card Plus, which has worked fine for me for years, has a bunch of value on it. If I’m reading the website correctly, all of that value will be lost some time in December. When I called the CTA about this, they told me to call Ventra and have them transfer the money. That sounds like a great plan if you can actually get somebody on the phone over there. Last week they announced they were going to increase their call center to 300 people. That sounds like it’s still about 2,500 people too short.
Whether you are for or against the Affordable Care Act, I think most people can reasonably agree that it’s trying to address a problem which is that many people don’t have health insurance. It’s had glitches being rolled out and not everyone is in favor of it, but generally speaking it’s trying to solve a problem.
Ventra on the other hand has all of the glitches and none of the purpose. It seems it’s biggest goal is to make it so you can’t call the CTA when you are having trouble with the CTA. But it’s replacing a system that works for everyone and is easy to use. Don’t have a fare card? You can buy one at a train station. If you have one, it can automatically reload.
Surely there is a class action lawsuit just waiting to happen over the lost transit value from old fare cards to new ones. I can understand that they might stop letting you add value to old cards at a certain point, but if they don’t allow you to transfer that value that certainly sounds like consumer fraud to me.
And you can’t sue someone simply for bad service, but how is the City and County doing business with a company that is so woefully understaffed? I could even accept having to wait on hold for 20 minutes. I can’t accept not being able to get through at all. I felt like I was trying to buy Cubs playoff tickets via the Ticketmaster phones back in 1989.
I applaud Forest Claypool for trying to intervene on some of the problems, but even for Chicago government this seems like a big joke.
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