Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Warning: MBTA/CharlieCard rant ahead

The past few days on the T have sucked. Usually I just stick my head in my magazine and pay no attention to why the train is stopped/dark/packed beyond capacity because the MBTA is incapable of trafficking more Lechmere trains during rush hour, but after today I can't ignore it anymore.

This morning I tried to use my handy WageWorks credit card to buy my Linkpass for February. On my first try, the machine at Lechmere told me that the WageWorks card, which is automatically loaded with $59 from my paycheck every month, had no value on it. I tried again and the machine told me the card was denied. I tried a third time and the transaction went through up until I waved my CharlieCard at the target to finish the transaction and then the machine magically voided everything and cancelled the transaction. The MBTA lady at Lechmere was no help—she’d apparently never seen a WageWorks card before, which strikes me as weird because everyone who used to get their T pass in the mail—and that’s a lot of commuters--now has to use these faux Visa cards to buy their passes at the CharlieCard machines. Pissed off, I got on the train and went to work. At lunch, I decided to try again at Copley. Again, the machine gave me three different reasons why it wouldn’t accept my card. The MBTA guy at Copley sent me to Back Bay, where the same thing happened—no card luck and no help from the MBTA lady hovering near the CharlieCard machines.

Now really freaking peeved, I went back to work and called up WageWorks to find out why the hell my card wouldn’t work in the CharlieCard machines. After being on hold for 15 minutes, a guy named Cass got on the line. Cass told me that my card did indeed have the $59 required to buy my monthly LinkPass but since the CharlieCard machines had malfunctioned and I’d tried to use the card so many times in one day, the funds were frozen until Friday. I tried to explain that Friday was February 2 and that I needed my pass for February 1. This was very perplexing to Cass—he had no idea what to tell me. He couldn’t tell me whether the people at the MBTA office (which is apparently at Downtown Crossing and not Back Bay) would be able to help me or whether they could unfreeze the funds. He suggested that I buy the pass out of pocket and then fax WageWorks a form so they could reimburse me.

PAIN IN MY ASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why bother having this stupid credit card system if the CharlieCard machines can’t read the cards??? What was so wrong with the old system of tokens and nice, easy passes that came in the mail? Why bother having people at the T to help you if they have no clue what's going on? Why do I have to fork over because the stupid MBTA can’t make their machines work in the cold? Hello—it’s Boston!!!! It gets f*ing cold here—plan for it!


Anonymous said...

This happened to a coworker of mine last month. She was able to get our otherwise useless HR lackey to freak out at Wageworks and fix things. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Exactly, the problem is with WageWorks not the T. You have to call to authorize the card before you can use it. Just like you would if a new credit card was mailed to your home. The real problem is your employer using a third party like Wage Works instead of just getting their pass directly from the T like 100,000 others do. But yeah, its probably easier just to rant about the T.

Simone said...

I wish my HR department cared enough to get involved :) You're lucky.

I did activate the card--I used it to buy my January linkpass and it worked fine.