Ventra reps making "courtesy calls" to help CTA Chicago Card, Plus customers

Ventra service representatives this week are reaching out to Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card customers, according to the CTA. The operators are making "courtesy calls" to "assist them in their transition to Ventra, including Ventra card activation."

These customers represent about 17 percent of CTA customers. But they have had the majority of problems with getting and activating cards - at least judging by emails and comments to CTA Tattler.

"These proactive calls are being made to provide customer support and ensure all Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card customers can start enjoying the benefits of Ventra," said the CTA in an email.

That's good PR for the CTA. But no doubt they want to avoid putting off the Nov. 15 deadline when these customers can no longer fill their cards or use Chicago Cards. CTA already was forced to back off on the earlier deadline of Oct. 7 for refills and sales of magnetic stripe cards.

Meanwhile, usage of Ventra cards continues to grow, the CTA reports. Here are pertinent stats as of Oct. 22:

  • Total number of system Ventra card taps: 19.6 million
  • Total number of Ventra accounts: 1.18 million
  • Percentage of CTA rides taken using Ventra: 40%

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  • fb_avatar

    Still no public announcement for disabled vets… not that I've heard. A public statement for our transition seems rather late

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    In reply to Jschizz:

    The VA was just notified of the transition to VENTRA from the Military Service Pass. James R Thompson Center on the 4th and 5th of November. Jesse Brown on the 11th and 12th. Chicago Transit Authority, 567 W. Lake St., Rooms A, B, C on 2nd Floor on Nov. 14th–15th and 26th–27th. Hope this helps.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marjorie:

    Yes, thank you Marjorie! Very good to know.

  • I rode a SB 22 from Rogers Park to Balmoral today. About 10 people used Ventra cards to pay. 9 of them had to repeatedly tap it against the reader & every single one of them did that correctly.
    I never saw that kind of problem with Chicago Cards.
    This isn't the first bus I've seen with this problem in the last few weeks.
    Something is very wrong in the card readers, unless Cubic shipped a lot of defective cards!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    The question is how many will do as Cheryl suggests and find out that they were charged for multiple rides in a few seconds.

    Some report that it depends on tapping on exactly the correct spot, and when Utah TA tried it out, radio communications with buses was spotty.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I have now mad about a dozen taps with my Ventra and have never had a problem. I see too many people tapping the arrow instead of below the arrow.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    That's a really good point, Kevin, and it highlights a flaw that should never have made it past the design phase. Somebody responsible for customer information or station signage should have pointed out that if you put the words "Tap Here" (with an arrow) on a point on the turnstile, then riders will do just that - tap there. Only the problem is that those words are about 2 inches from where the actual Ventra card reader is. It's a poor choice of words for directional signage -- and easily corrected. I've seen the same thing in action myself - people tapping their cards to the "Tap Here" graphic. I've even seen some of the CTA staff (wearing CTA ID and vests, but not in uniform) telling people not to tap their card to the "Tap Here", but to ignore it and tap the card to the touchpad a few inches away with the Ventra graphic.

  • In reply to randomreader:

    That reminds me of the Builder's Square store in Evanston. They put a sign with the words "Entrance" over the exit, but there was an arrow pointing to the right, where the entrance actually was. People constantly walked into the exit doors.
    After telling the store manager that was wrong & nothing got changed, I took a photo of the sign & sent it to their HQ in Texas. It still took 6 months for the sign to be moved.

    I'm just guessing, but could those be the people who designed the Ventra reader graphics?
    It will probably be 6 months before the card reader graphics are fixed.
    And every one I saw, they used the card separately, not in a wallet or purse, touched it to the reader & nothing happened..

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I leave my card in my wallet, and it works fine when I simply press my wallet against the reader. It certainly seems to work better than the old CCP cards.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I repeat Kevin, 9 out of 10 tapped on the bottom half, which is the correct way.
    They had to repeatedly tap the damn thing!

  • Anecdotes do not equal data, Kevin. I've tapped my correctly a number of times only to have it not read it or just sit there and finally say go after 30 seconds. I watched a guy this morning tap the reader 7 times before it read his card.

    It's bad graphics and bad equipment. It's also bad communications on the part of the CTA and truly lousy customer service from Cubic.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I certainly I agree with Cheryl and Randomreader that CTA is using bad graphics for the reader boxes.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I've been checking my Ventra balance before and after every L ride and am keeping a running list of what I've been charged for train rides, bus rides, transfers to make sure it all matches. That way I'll have a leg to stand on if I get overcharged and have to complain.

  • Activated my card about two weeks ago, and while it's working fine, they still haven't transferred my CC+ balance (about $50), and I have absolutely no idea how the autoload feature works. Phone calls to their customer service dept. have been worthless, with either 30 minute waits, or cut offs. The one time I did get through, the girl (who was nice) couldn't help me because their system was going through maintenance, which seems like a bad idea at 4:00 pm on a weekday. They did call me back a day or two later and assured me that my balance would transfer if I gave it a few days. It's been two weeks, and still nothing.

    FWIW, I've only had to re-tap my card once, and I didn't get charged twice.

  • In reply to Seitz:

    That $50 is gone Seitz.

  • In reply to Seitz:

    I got the "7 to 10 business days" email on Sept. 15. On Oct. 8 I finally got the card and activated it successfully. My CC+ balance was transferred yesterday.

  • "Proactive calls"?

    They better the bleep not call me. I can't remember if I gave them my number for the old Chicago Card.

    As for the requirement to supply a phone number under many traditional advertising jingles come to mind for carpet companies and dry cleaners...if any business wants a phone number they may have the phone number of a business.

    I will say that not only did I get my old Chicago card spent down to exactly zero, but my Ventra card (bought through the machine and registered later) has been working all right. The station attendant on duty at the time I made my first try, helpfully pointed out that the little broadcast wave icon on the card needs to be touched to the same icon on the reader. That's what makes it work. That's how it ought to be explained!

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    I'm with you. What are they going to do--call us so they can hang up on us again?

  • In reply to CCWriter:


    Belay what I just said about matching icon to icon. Now they have covered up the broadcast-wave icons on the readers with a green dot. Apparently that is supposed to make the situation clearer. Maybe in somebody's mixed-up universe it does.

    Where, oh where, is the adult supervision?

    Mr. Claypool and Mr. Steele, this is a reminder that you have until November 15 to candidly disclose what went wrong in all this (as we both know it goes far beyond call center staffing) and make a proper apology. If you beat the deadline, you get your favorite flavor cream pie in the face. If you miss the deadline, it will be rotten vegetables while you are in the stocks in Daley Plaza.

  • It would be nice if they would return my messages to call me back I already left before they start making these other calls.

  • Lol. Have you checked out the spoof Ventra Twitter feed, 'Pretty funny stuff. :-)

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Yep! Outstanding! I don't chirp, but I went to the page and it was just as you said and then some. Wisecracks I wish I'd thought of.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    That's hilarious Spiny! Thanks for sharing.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Two of my favorites: "At #Ventra, we promise we will never inexplicably drop your customer service phone calls mid"

    "Do you remember where you were the first time you used a Ventra Card? Chances are, you're still standing there right now! Just keep tapping!"

  • Sun-Times says that your headline is incorrect, in that it refers to "Ventra reps."

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