Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Just Letting You Know It Is Too Late to Do Anything About

My eldest teenage daughter e-mails me from Kingston today. This is what Presto sent her today (March 26):
You are receiving this notification because you submitted a request to cancel your Autoload contract. Your request associated with the PRESTO Card has been successfully processed. The contract ID number is 000000.
Please note that if you have not submitted a request to cancel your Autoload contract, you are receiving this cancellation notice because your contract has been terminated due to insufficient funds or expiry of your credit card. Please check to ensure your current payment information is up to date and visit us at to establish a new Autoload contract.
We recommend that you keep this contract number in your records, or keep this letter for future reference should you need to contact PRESTO for inquiries regarding this contract. If you are having difficulties setting up a new Autoload contract on the website or have other questions regarding this cancelation, please call our toll free number at 1-8-PRESTO-123 (1-877-378-6123).
Thank you for choosing PRESTO.

Being a dutiful father and eager to ensure Presto knows that we did not submit a request to cancel our Autoload contractI I get right to work. I know what happened: I have a new credit card issued from my Credit Union when my old one expired. All this needs is the old card expiry date to be changed to the new date in 2017.

I log in to Presto to update my credit card info and get her card back functioning. The first screen shows her card as "active" with $24.03 on it. Except when I follow the link to "manage [your] autoload now", I can't. The options to update payment options are greyed out. 

So now I have to call Presto. This is always a drag. I phone. Run through the phone tree. Painstakingly enter the 17 digit card number into my phone. Press some more buttons. Finally get a person to talk to.

I want to update my credit card information. I'm told I can't.

No. You see, there have been two $20 autoload amounts added to my card "in good faith" when the expired credit card info was accessed while she was using the Presto card on GO transit. This rogue $40 total will now be deducted the next time my daughter taps her card. Which would be when she arrives in Toronto from Kingston (on the amazing Megabus, who do know about customer care. That's a story I'll share later).

Now she'll be in Toronto with $2.40 on her card. Not enough to pay for the train or bus back to Hamilton. Not even close. So now she has to produce some cash (she doesn't have a credit card yet), locate a kiosk in Union Station where she can add money to the card and then use it to get home. A bit later than if Presto was reasonable.

Now I will need to wait 24 hours from the time she taps the card before I contact Presto to set up a NEW autoload contract. Same Presto Card. Same Credit Card (with updated expiry date). New autoload contract.

The customer service rep on the line is telling me all this and I am asking her if it wouldn't be a better customer service thing to notify the customer that there's a problem with their card when it happens? And then let the customer log in and update the errant info. No. As it is, by the time they notify you about the problem it is too late to fix it. Seriously?

I end up talking to her supervisor who tries at least twice to push the blame for an unnecessarily complicated process onto me:
1. "Did you get your new credit card in the mail?" she danglingly asks, suggesting my next automatic thought would be to think of Presto, the only place I would have to contact to update the info, like, every few years when the credit card expires.
2. "You know we use a third party to do the credit cards" she explains. I tell her I don't care how they work their business behind the scenes, I am telling you that as a customer I just want to update the expiry date on my card using the web site and avoid this complicated process.
She tries to explain it is normal for auto payments. But a service like Paypal will notify you if there is a problem with your payment. Certainly the Hydro or Gas companies wouldn't come and shut off your power or heat because of one problem transaction. They would notify the customer and update the information, and probably thank you at the end. If Presto ran the utilities we would be sitting in the cold darkness waiting 24 hours for a chance to set up a new contract and being told it's our own fault.

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