Presto card fun, one more time


Okay, as some of you might remember, I’ve ranted about the Presto transit card here before, but I’m mostly satisfied with mine lately – at least I haven’t had to worry about overriding the default trip on the GO train lately.

I still couldn’t get a monthly pass for Hamilton on it without taking time off work, but then again, I haven’t needed to. And I think that I’m going to be using it more in Hamilton, because I’ve belatedly figuring out that paying by the ride four times a week is cheaper than the monthly pass, since I never ride the Hamilton bus anymore except going to work and back. (And usually less than four times a week on average, too, now that I’ve got the car.)

And I haven’t used public transit at all in weeks, since the Toronto CSTS screening, the day before I left to go to Kansas in June. Since I got back from Kansas and Polaris, I’ve been driving to work every day, and walking to the store when I can. Partly this is because I didn’t get a July bus pass before I left town, and partly because the Block revision material is spread all over my table, so I couldn’t easily pack it up and work on it on the bus anyway, and having time to work on a writing project is part of what I like about taking the bus. If I’m driving, I can spend part of that time working at home, and the rest behind the wheel listening to an audiobook or tunes.

But I wanted to take the bus today, because it’s been so long, so I checked that I was still carrying the Presto card, and got up early enough to catch the 7:50 bus. This was the first time that I’d actually used the Presto on a Hamilton bus, but it wasn’t a different process than using it in Burlington. Swipe the card, the reader goes beep, and tells me that it’s deducting two bucks and my remaining balance is two point thirty-something. That wasn’t good, because if the cash fare to take the Burlington bus home from close to my office was two dollars fifty cents, and it was supposed to rain this afternoon.

Wait a second. Didn’t I reload the card on the Presto website before I left for the airport?

I thought I remembered that. I’d noticed that the balance was getting low on the way home from the screening, and wanted to make sure that if I had some kind of car trouble, taking the train home from Toronto was at least an option, even if not that likely. Had I forgotten to?

Or is there something about having to use the card within X many days if you want to actually use the reload?

So, when I got to work, I checked the Presto website and my credit card statement. Presto website showed my balance, not updated yet for this morning’s fare, and my transactions for June – no reload. At first I thought the reload wasn’t on my credit card transactions, but when I searched through them for the keyword ‘Presto’ there it was – forty bucks, June 24th and no reversal. A bit more digging on the Presto website, and I found the fine print – when you reload on the website, it may take up to 24 hours, and you must use the card or check your balance on it with a Presto system card reader within 30 days to use the reload.

It’s been more than 30 days since June 24th, obviously.

I called the 877 line and navigated my way through the voice mail system, which at one point repeated the same info I’d already found through the website and told me ‘Goodbye’, but I refused to hang up, kept pressing buttons near the bottom of the keypad, and eventually got connected to a very helpful human being.

She agreed that it had been a long time since I’d reloaded for me to not use the card, said that there was a chance that the reload might come through the first time I used the card… oh, you rode the bus today?

Me: Yes. Is there any way I can get my money back?

Her: Oh, don’t worry sir – it’ll be reversing onto your credit card statement any day now.

I think I feel reassured by that, though it’ll be nice to actually see the money return of course. It didn’t rain in the afternoon, so I had a nice walk and caught the Hamilton bus at the downtown Burlington terminal. And I’m going to put another reload through, so that it’ll have plenty of time to go through before I ride the GO bus to Toronto for Sunday afternoon.

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