MTA rider finds card defective, service more so
When MTA customers Bernard and Maria Smith found that their new CharmCard wasn't working, they reported the problem to MTA customer service. That's when they really encountered a defective system.
Bernard Smiith gave this account:
On Thursday evening, he and his wife were going to their church, where she was to sing with the choir. But when the got to the Charles Street Metro station, they found that her Charm Card would not work to open any oof the gates. Bernard Smith then went to the ticket machine and tapped the card, which showed there was a monthly pass on it with almost a month of value.
They sought help from the attendant, who was apparently no help. Mr. Smith described her as "clueless." A supervisor was summoned, but by the time he got there Mrs. Smith had missed her choir time.
That night, the Smiths called the 800 number on the card and reported the problem. Mr. Smith said he was told that the would have to go downtown to the MTA Store to resolve the problem
So on Friday, Smith heads downtown to 6 St. Paul Street from his Southwest Baltimore home. When he gets there, an MTA manager tells him that the report on the defective card had yet to come in and that he would have to come back.
So today, Smith returns to the MTA Store and is told the report still isn't in and that he should come back later in the week. So this afternoon, Mrs. Smith calls the 800 number again and finds that the person who took the original report got the facts wrong. Mrs. Smith was told she would have to file a new report.
That's when Mr. Smith called The Sun.
Now I find it interesting that there could be some CharmCards on the street with defective chips. That would certainly be a problem, and a bit of a black eye for the MTA, which took years getting the system up and running.
But it is an even greater concern that the MTA would require a rider to come all the way downtown to get a problem resolved and then fail to resolve it. A trip downtown takes a considerable bite out of a customer's time, and the rider who makes that trip ought to be treated with appropriate concern. To send a customer home again and again because some paper work hasn't come through strikes me as Soviet-era service.
So here's the question for MTA Administrator Ralign T. Wells: Is this official policy? Are managers at the MTA Store permitted to tell people to go home and come back later? Is there any limit on the number of trips the MTA will require its riders to take to solve a simple problem? Does the MTA presume its riders are liars until they prove otherwise?
This question has been posed to the MTA. We'll let you know what the response is. And if you know of other instances of defective CharmCards, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.