She lost her Presto card, so had to watch as a stranger racked up charges


"I looked around quickly and could not see, so I just had to get off the train," she said.

Dixon, 39, who works with publications, asked a GO official what to do with his card, which still had $ 93 loaded.

The clerk advised her to visit the Presto site and report the lost card.

Later that day she checked her online account activity and discovered that a lucky but unscrupulous GO pilot was using her card, taking a bus in Burlington, and then headed toward Port Credit. Whoever has been quickly wasted about $ 20.

"It was frustrating for me to know that someone had my card and was going to use it, and there was nothing I could do about it," Dixon said. "I was very angry."

To make matters worse, Dixon has configured Presto's auto-upload function, which automatically adds money from the customer's credit card or bank account to the Presto card when the balance falls below a predefined level.

Dixon feared that anyone who had his card could accumulate enough charges for 24 hours to have the automatic charge, which would cost him even more money.

She wanted to cancel the automatic upload feature, but in an online help chat on Monday night, a Presto representative told her that it was impossible, since automatic uploading can only be canceled before a card is lost. No one had told him that.

"I just think the advice given to me was not the best advice," she said.

Frustrated, Dixon went to Twitter to vent, calling Presto a "horrible idea." The tweets caught the attention of Metrolinx, the provincial agency in charge of Presto, and on Tuesday the organization promised to reimburse it for the money the foreigner spent on its card.

Dixon said she was happy with the end result, but says she no longer trusts the fare card, which she called "super inconvenience."

"Why does it take 24 hours and what can be done to fix things?" She asked.

According to Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins, the delay in making changes to online card accounts, which includes other transactions, such as the loading of funds, is not exclusive to Presto.

"Many well-used tariff payment systems around the world have waiting times associated with online transactions," she said in an e-mail. Transactions on Presto machines in subway stations and elsewhere can be instant.

Aikins said the reason it may take up to a day for online changes is that all the information on the Presto account is stored on the card itself. When a customer makes an online transaction, such as adding funds or canceling their card, the change is recorded in the central Presto system, and then the updated information is distributed to the fare devices throughout the transit system.

Updated account information is passed to the customer's physical card only after it is accessed on a Presto device.

However, some Presto devices connect to the central network less often than others.

Fare card readers on TTC vehicles are often connected to the central system through a mobile network, so a customer tapping on these machines can implement changes to their accounts quickly.

But Presto card readers on GO buses only connect to the central network when they enter one of the agency's garages, which they do only once a day.

However, the auto-upload function can be instantly disabled on the Presto website. Aikins could not immediately say why Dixon was not advised to disable this feature before canceling his card, but said the agency is updating messages on his site to clarify the problem.

Asked if other Presto users who find themselves in Dixon's situation will also be reimbursed for any funds lost, Aikins gave no guarantees.

"Although we analyze each situation independently, our policy is that we are not responsible for the costs incurred within 24 hours after the cancellation," she said.

Presto is used by 11 transit agencies throughout Ontario. This month, the TTC, by far the largest transit system in the region, has taken a major step towards the full implementation of the technology, eliminating its Metropass. Customers should now purchase monthly passes on Presto.

TTC plans to stop selling older-fare media such as tickets and tokens in August, and stop accepting them at the end of 2019.

Have you ever had problems with your Presto card? Tell us your story on Facebook, Twitteror by contacting Ben Spurr directly at [email protected]

Ben Spurr is a Toronto reporter who covers transportation. Get to him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr


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