For the second time in nearly 12 years, I lost my public transit pass. When I went to get a replacement, I discovered I had to buy a new one at full price, and I had to buy it from dull-witted people who treated me with contempt.
This is an open letter to the TTC, which I will also sent directly to them.
Some time on May 13th or 14th, I lost my Metropass, the monthly public transit pass in Toronto. I didn’t notice till Monday the 16th. So as soon as I could get away from work, I headed up to the Davisville Station, where the TTC offices are, and where I last went to get a replacement.
I presented myself at the Metropass office and explained what happened.
I was told the TTC didn’t provide replacements.
I explained that I’d been in once before, many years ago, for the same reason, and that at that time, a replacement was provided without question.
I furthermore explained that as a member of the Metropass Discount Plan, whereby I prepaid for Metropasses annually and the TTC mailed the passes to me each month, they would have records proving that I actually did have a metropass. (That is, I wasn’t just trying to schmooze a free pass out of them.)
Again, I was told there were no replacements, this time by a (slightly) more senior person who happened to overhear our conversation through the plexiglass divider separating us. Indeed, they told me that even if I’d had my Metropass stolen, I’d still have to pay full price for a replacement.
I asked why this was so, seeing that any other card I had, from my credit card to my ROM membership card, could be easily replaced with minimal charge.
I was told it wasn’t the same thing.
I asked why, but got only mumbles in reply from the senior staffer. The junior just grinned stupidly at me. Obviously, his first day on the job.
I then advised them that since the TTC had a monopoly on public transit, I had no choice to buy a new one.
I was then told I had to buy one at full price – even though we’re already half-way through the month.
I asked why that was.
I was told that was just the way it was.
Clearly, I was dealing with the intellectual elite here.
Irritating though it was, I told them I needed one, and paid with my debit card. They filled out a ridiculously long form, then took it into another room.
After a couple of minutes, yet another beancounter came out and asked me for my debit card because they would refund the cost as an act of “customer service.”
I guess my thanks didn’t gush out fast enough, because after I tossed by debit card back through the slot in the plexiglass, the third beancounter said “You’re welcome.”
I then told her to give me back my debit card, and that I would rather pay full fare rather than them for doing only doing their jobs, and doing it poorly. I also told them that the money was entirely irrelevant, and that my displeasure hinged on two points: that the staff were clearly automata programmed to hold customers in contempt, and that the policy of not replacing lost Metropasses was entirely idiotic.
I do not want an apology. An apology accepted is only permission to make the same mistake again.
I want the staff who treated me so poorly to be publicly reprimanded, and I want the policy regarding the replacement of lost Metropasses changed.
Let’s be clear: they know I had a current Metropass, because I participate in the MDP program. The technology does exist to invalidate a Metropass (they have mag stripes), so they can cancel a Metropass. Well, the TTC may not be able to with their extant equipment, but it is possible; and they should have thought of this.
Not being one to complain unconstructively, let me suggest the following new policy. The principle here is that, while I may not care about the cost of replacing a lost Metropass every few years, I do know that there are many other people who are not as financially well off as me; I can imagine there exist many people for whom the cost of an extra Metropass would be quite a significant burden.
Any participant in the MDP program should be entitled to one free replacement Metropass every five years or so. (I don’t know the rate at which Metropasses are lost or stolen; the five year period might have to be changed depending on what that data says.)
Furthermore, any participant in the MDP program should be entitled to a replacement Metropass at any time, such that its cost covers only the remaining time in that month. So, in my case, I would have paid only 50% of the full price because we’re already halfway through May. Even that is a financial penalty to me, because, counting the lost or stolen card, one would have paid 150% of the regular price for one month’s service. Still, one must be willing to pay for one’s fares, and one cannot use the lost or stolen card for that.
Note that I pose this policy only for MDP participants, because these are the only customers the TTC can prove have a current Metropass.
In these days of high-tech computerization of damned near everything, it is a trivial task to calculate the cost of a Metropass for whatever amount of time is left in the current month. It’s not rocket science.
But perhaps it is beyond the brain trust at the TTC.
As I mentioned earlier, the TTC has a monopoly on public transit in Toronto, so there isn’t much else I can do but use it.
But I’m only going to do it gritting my teeth in disgust from now on.