For the last two weeks, readers have been bombarding me with questions and complaints about Ventra card purchases and activation. I've tried to answer as many as I can, but may not be able to get to them all.
But I thought I would share some common problems with solutions or just a heads-up about them.
- Charged twice because Ventra next to debit card in wallet: Take your Ventra out of your wallet - check out this tweet from @DePaulU: If you use your Ventra card while it's in your wallet, you could be charged twice since debit cards are also a payment form. Take it out!
- Ventra double-billing. The reader's story: I used my new Ventra card at the Lake Red Line station on my way home from work yesterday for the first time. Heeding everyone's advice, I removed the card from my wallet, however I was double billed on my actual Ventra card (I use the single fare payment, not monthly). So apparently there is no technology linking the payment scanner to the turnstile to prohibit an additional charge if the turnstile hasn't cycled through a passenger.
- Problem purchasing Ventra cards from retailers: Here's this reader's story.
I purchased a Ventra card at a CVS for $5 and was told I could register it to get the $5 back on the card. When I went to Ventra's website to register it, however, I got an error message stating “an invalid combination of card data has been submitted.” I called the Ventra customer service line, waited 22 minutes TWICE before being hung up on, and when I finally got a customer service representative, I was told that I could not register a card I bought from a retailer unless I added value to the Ventra card at the time of purchase.In other words, you can’t just pay $5 for the card and attempt to register and load it online. You must load some amount at the time of purchase in order to be able to register the card.
- CCP cards and when auto-loading by credit card stops. One reader asked when auto-reloading by credit card to your Chicago Card Plus would stop. The CTA says after Oct. 7, Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus will no longer be able to have value loaded on to them, either online or at CTA rail station vending machines.
- What if I deleted my email about Ventra activation? First do check your trash folder. Otherwise you probably will have to call Ventra. The Ventra Customer Call Center can be reached at 1.877.NOW.VENTRA (1.877.669.8368), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST. The automated system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Not sure who to blame here on poor communications. The CTA hired a company to field questions and do the rollout. But the CTA ultimately has to take responsibility. We can all be patient with the new technology, except when our time is wasted with dropped calls to Ventra customer service after long waits. Other companies get this right. Ventra and the CTA should too.
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