Mrs. Smith gets her CharmCard fixed
Yesterday we recounted the story of Bernard and Maria Smith and the hoops they had to jump through at the Maryland Transit Administration to resolve a problem of a defective CharmCard.
Today we can report that the problem has been resolved, though it took the Smiths three trips downtown to accomplish that. Here's the word from MTA spokesman Terry Owens:
Thank you for the opportunity to investigate and respond to a complaint about an inoperative CharmCard and MTA’s response. Since hearing from you we did confirm that Mrs. Smith’s CharmCard is defective, and today she picked up a new card with its full value along with an apology for her wasted time. Interestingly, there are currently 4,000 cards in operation and this is the very first report we have received about a defective card.
CharmCard customer service is handled under contract by a regional service center that supports both CharmCards and WMATA SmarTrip cards. The MTA station attendant followed our procedures by advising the Smiths to call the customer service center to report their problem, but the customer service representative should have taken a report and initiated an investigation. Transit Store employees do not have information about individual CharmCards and cannot issue refunds without prior authorization. We have been assured by the customer service center that this will not happen again. Given the scope and complexity of the CharmCard program we expected a few bumps along the way, and overall the cards are receiving good reviews from customers. Thanks again for the opportunity to respond.
MTA Media Relations
Not a bad response but it could have been better. The MTA should make it crystal clear to its employees at the store that when a customer comes in with a problem, their job is to see that it's resolved, not to send that person home with instructions to come back later.
"We will do everything we can to prevent these kinds of issue from occurring," Owens told me. It's a noble sentiment but too general.
Bernard Smith said he's happy that his wide received a refund for her accumuated fare, plus a credit for the price of the card.
"It shouldn't have got that far," he said. "They need to get a different system."