Saturday, March 6, 2010

ORCA again

I'm getting kind of annoyed at ORCA. As I mentioned in a previous entry, my wife bought two ORCA cards last year, each preloaded with $5. I used one of them once, which was manageable. Then I tried purchasing $15 more credit for that card, and the transaction didn't take -- my online ORCA account didn't show any more credit than before. I don't recall ever completing an online transaction that just disappeared into the aether before.

So I tried again two weeks later. This time the transaction was marked "pending", which is still how it's indicated on the ORCA website. And so, two completed credit card transactions later, on a credit card that every other online merchant is happy to accept, my ORCA card still has exactly the same credit value on it that it had more than a month ago, which is to say exactly one ride's worth. I got my credit card bill last night, and checked my ORCA account this morning. Sure enough, ORCA has charged me $35 in two transactions, but my ORCA card still hasn't been credited with either of my purchases. On the plus (?) side, earlier this week an ORCA card with no value on it showed up in our mailbox, which neither my wife nor I ordered.

So yes, I'm annoyed. Good thing King County Metro's bus system continues to accept cash, and to issue paper transfers. Because while it might be nice to have the option to use that ORCA card to ride Sound Transit's Sounder commuter rail or Central Link light rail once in a while, these are both slower and less convenient than the buses I'm riding instead, so maybe I'm not the target ORCA card market after all.

But given this quality of service, I have to ask myself "Who is?"


Jeff said...

If you check out the Orca web site FAQ, you'll see that the transaction will read as "pending" until the amount on your card falls below a certain value. The transaction will complete once you've used the card and what's on it goes down (you can set this value on the web site if you register your card).

While you've noticed that your Orca card still has the same value as before - you'll also note that no transaction has occurred from your credit or debit card. In other words - you won't be charged to load the amount you've selected until your card value falls low enough to trigger it.

If you want value added instantly - you can do this via any ticketing machine at the tunnel or Link platform stations or transit customer service center.

Aus-car said...

Thanks for the info, Jeff, especially about the "pending" transaction. But my credit card was indeed charged twice even though I haven't attempted to use my ORCA card in the past three weeks (or at all since I tried purchasing credit for it the first time), and my ORCA card still has only a $2.50 balance. I'll see about using the card on my next transit trip, which should be tomorrow.