Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ORCA, Part 3

A week ago Friday, on another bike/bus commute, I biked downtown from my home in Greenwood, went downstairs to the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel's Westlake Station, had a nice chat with Tito the Tunnel Flautist, even buying a copy of his new CD, then descending further to the ORCA Service Center to see if I could get them to apply the $35 in charges I'd added to my ORCA card this year, none of which has appeared on the card to date. (See Part 1 and Part 2 of this developing saga for details on what came before.)

The woman behind the window seemed a little nervous about my reaction. I can understand why, as I imagine she's been yelled at before by people in my situation -- probably more than once -- because of the appalling hoops that ORCA customers must jump through in order to get their charges applied, but I'm a bit more civilized than that -- it's not her fault that her employer's service system is FUBAR. Basically, what I learned was partly what I already knew, and partly that the ORCA infrastructure is even more screwed up than I'd realized. No, she couldn't apply the charges I'd purchased for my card. I would have to call their service center for that. Yes, she found one of the two purchases I'd made in their records, but not the other one. Yes, both purchases were charged to me by my credit card company, but ORCA will not recognize one of them, though I will be following up on this. This much I hadn't known before.

What I did already know (or thought I knew) was that I need to "tap" my card in order for the purchases I'd made to be applied. Unfortunately, when I did so later that day, even the purchase they acknowledged was not applied.

Last Monday morning I got on the phone with their service center. And I stayed on the phone -- on hold -- for about 15 minutes before finally hearing a message that call volumes were unusually high. Until I had to hang up or miss my Monday morning bus.

To be continued in a Part 4, I guess ...