SF Welcomes Me Home … Clipper, Not So Much
Photo by 0x0000org
1. Tara exits turnstiles at 24th and Mission BART station after a sleepy ride back from SFO. Clipper cash balance falls below threshold; Autoload triggered, just as it should.
2. On first commute back to work two days later, BART turnstiles say “see agent.” Agent shows, on his little machine thingie, a message that says, “BAD DEBT” (all caps, very scary). A customer-service call is in order. BART ticket must be purchased. (I am Tara’s boiling fit of not-really-contained public rage.)
3. Clipper Rep #1 says there’s nothing wrong with the account. Maybe the card itself is broken, she suggests? Add Fare machines couldn’t read it, so this seemed likely. (How much will it cost me if I don’t get a new card right away? Will I get a refund? I am Tara’s frustrated, tearful self-pity.)
4. Tara calls Clipper back to say, yes, something must be wrong with the card. Clipper Rep #2 checks into it further, and, at some point, mentions the last four digits of the credit card on file. This is an old card that does not exist! Ah: Clipper Rep #2 says this is why I have “bad debt,” triggered by the Autoload a couple days ago. But! It was updated! (Right? Hmm…)
5. Tara learns that she did, in fact, update her information in July. Tip: Always ALWAYS keep confirmation emails from Clipper when you update information; they contain reference numbers that should help if/when they don’t know what you’re talking about. She makes third call to Clipper that morning. (I am Tara’s violently flashing incompetency-radar.)
6. Clipper Rep #3 has no idea what Tara is talking about with this “bad debt” and “card not working” business. Everything looks fine, just as it did to Clipper Rep #1. No, no. Something is wrong. Look harder. Tara eventually gets the equivalent of, “Oh, there it is.” Info was updated correctly by the user, but it failed to be processed by Clipper.
Tip for riders: Just as with this guy, you may get three different answers to the same question. Persist until you’re blue in the face when you know something is wrong, even if they say it’s not.
Tip for Clipper: Maybe when someone’s Autoload triggers “bad debt” and completely freezes a person’s account, it should, um, be a little more obvious to your phone reps.
7. Many really shitty minutes go by as Tara listens to the worst on-hold music in the history of customer-service calls (talk about “that’s saying a lot”). Clipper Rep #3 says, to fix it, Tara must fax a form (can’t be done online or on the phone) updating the bank information again. They promise it will probably (you never know!) be resolved by tomorrow morning’s commute. After she asks for one, they promise a refund for that morning’s in-city BART expense.
- Clipper works on BART the next morning.
- It does not work on an F-car shortly thereafter; machine says the account is bad. (Nnoooooooo!!)
- It works again on an F-car on the commute home and has continued to work ever since.
- Refund processed.
- Sanity mostly intact.