After a year and a half traveling with a Presto card, Heather Dixon got off the GO train late Monday afternoon and realized he was gone.
The lost card unleashed a series of events that led Dixon to declare the entire Presto system as "a horrible idea" in a widely shared system. Talk on Twitter.
"I knew I should never lose my card," she told CBC Toronto. "But I did not realize what happened if you did."
After realizing that she had lost the card, Dixon entered the network to cancel it. When she entered the Presto site, she saw that someone was using the card for free rides in Toronto.
"I was worried that it would be used all day today and possibly go as far as recharging the car would happen," said Dixon, who travels from Burlington to Toronto.
Dixon canceled the card online, but Presto's policy states that a user is responsible for all charges on a card for a period of 24 hours, even after it is canceled.
A Metrolinx spokesperson, who manages Presto, said it could take up to a day before the various Presto compatible transit systems (TTC, GO Transit and several other GTHA agencies) can upgrade their systems.
"They may be on the hook for some funds during the time period before their official cancellation, but you have to keep in mind that this is a transit card," said Anne Marie Aikins. "It's not like people can spend hundreds and hundreds or thousands and thousands of dollars."
In the case of Dixon, the person who used his card ended up booking $ 21 in traffic fares before the card was completely blocked.
"It sounds strange to me that it would take 24 hours, and you're kind of out of luck," Dixon said. "It seems like there are a lot of problems that need to be solved."
Despite Presto's official policy, Dixon has been informed that she will be credited with $ 21 on her new card when she arrives.
Damaged cards causing headaches
The Presto system has been affected by problems since its launch, which has been mainly focused on defective card readers.
In December, Toronto Mayor John Tory urged the province to "get this program in shape" and a representative of the TTC union called the system "a disaster." Starting in January, now is the only way for Metropass users to run TTC.
Several traffic users are now directing their anger to Presto's online account management, which is being described as confusing and unnecessarily complicated.
Like Dixon, traffic user Adam Rathwell was recently shocked by the system after his original Presto card was damaged and unusable.
He requested a new one and registered the card, hoping to transfer the funds "as you would any other membership card."
He was shocked to learn that this was not possible since his new card was already activated.
"It's not like this is a novelty," Rathwell said. "It's not like paying for something with a card is revolutionary and cutting edge."
Jennifer Hollett, a former Toronto City Hall candidate, experienced the same problem in December and shared the story on social networks.
She remembers having her "head about to explode" when a customer service agent Presto explained that she could not transfer funds to a card already registered. Like Rathwell, she asked for a third card to transfer the money before activating it.
"I told this story to some of my friends, and they are so confused that they ask me to repeat the story," Hollett said. "I'll tell them again, and I'm still confused by it."
I'm working on changes.
Rathwell says that the process of replacing a damaged letter involved "jumping through many hoops" and was not intuitive.
Aikins said Metrolinx is actively working on a new account-based system where funds would be tied to a user's account, not the card itself. This change may make it easier for users to move funds and avoid situations like Rathwell's.
Meanwhile, Aikins said that people can still access money linked to damaged cards as long as they follow the correct steps.
"It's not a perfect system, but it's certainly better than losing all your funds," she said.
By the year 2019, says Rathwell, the system must be much more sophisticated and simplified than it is.
"There's a lot of potential, the Presto card," he said. "It's great when it works, but when that does not happen, it reveals every flaw in the system."