Archive for August, 2010

Clipper Clips me

August 10, 2010

Interesting situation I’ve gotten myself in now that San Francisco MUNI no longer sells monthly passes directly. Beginning in August, they’ve changed to force everyone who wants a monthly pass to use the Clipper card (formerly TransitLink). Now, I have a monthly reminder to purchase a new MUNI pass on the 12th of the month (the second day it’s available). So, I purchased my Clipper card for the first time on the 14th. Now, I may have missed reading the receipt hard enough, but MUNI and Clipper rules say that any monthly pass bought before the 16th is for the current month and afterwards is for the next month. So, I didn’t realize I bought a pass for the month I was already in. Oops. Since your MUNI grace period for the following month ends after the third, I got an insufficient funds notice on the 5th. I called Clipper to discover that my pass I purchased had been for July. Great, so how do I get that pass changed to August, I asked Clipper customer service. Your usage records should show I never used the pass in July to prove I’m not trying to create a scam. However, I’m told it’s tough shit, and that I could purchase another pass for August. Really? I’m not buying another pass when I haven’t been able to use the one I’ve got. The guy laughs when I ask for his manager (who I’m told won’t get in until 9AM). Calling MUNI customer service, I got more of a surprised tone that Clipper didn’t handle this, and I was able to lodge a complaint with them, just to make them aware that this is the first month of Clipper, and maybe Clipper should be handling this better.

So, I waited until after 9AM on Monday and called in, hoping to get this resolved before I had to bus to work. This guy helped me right away and said he would have to get approval for a refund to my account. However, the refund approval had to go through MUNI, which may take 3 weeks. If today is the 9th, and three weeks from now is the 30th, doesn’t that kind of make this pointless. The guy says the refund needs to get approved by MUNI, since Clipper can’t take the rejection of the refund, meaning they would have to fork out $60. I appreciated that this guy actually tried to help, and I had him begin the approval process, but come on, this is a ridiculous way to handle someone being proactive enough to purchase a pass early.

Feeling stuck but searching for a compromise that would allow me to ride the bus without carrying around stripper wages, I offerred to buy another pass for August, and when MUNI processed the refund, I’d have that credit applied to my next month. This solved the problem, but I’m a little disturbed by the process and not having a better failsafe in place for the first month of Clipper. A simple approval process should be in place to help out people who unwittingly purchase the wrong month. MUNI should specify some guidelines for Clipper to follow such as a) verify that the card is valid, b) if the card was not used in the month the customer complains is the incorrect month, the pass should be transferrable. The simple advice: whenever a new system is implemented, always expect problems. They will ALWAYS show up.