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A Rant I just sent to the MBTA
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Recently, I needed to buy a new ticket at the Quincy Center T stop. There are 5 automated machines there. One of these was being serviced by a technician, and was unusable.

I went to the second machine. After going through the multi-step process of telling it what kind of ticket I wanted, it asked me to insert my credit card. I did so, but the machine did not respond in any way. I tried again several times, fast, slow, leaving it in for a few seconds before pulling it out – every variation I could think of. No response.

I went to the third machine. Exactly the same thing happened. My credit card was not recognized at all.

I went to the fourth machine. This time, at least it responded. It did so, however, by putting up an error message saying something about this being an invalid type of card.

I went to the fifth – and last – machine. This one, finally, accepted my credit card as valid. Needless to say, I had missed the train I should have caught due to all this delay.

This is a brand-new credit card, less than a month old, in perfectly good condition. It worked in one machine out of the four I was able to try. The other station I use most often is Shawmut – there are only two machines there. A 1 in 5 success rate leaves me extremely nervous about my ability to purchase tickets there. Please do something to improve the reliability of this system!

Sincerely,
Alexander Kay

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If you don't mind describing your card - I have had similar problems and I am trying to get a sense of how common it is.

I have a Bank of America Visa check card (not a "real" credit card) and the one time I tried to use it, at Harvard, it wouldn't run in any of the (working) machines either as a debit or credit card. There was an MBTA employee right there to help people with the machines, as they were newish at that point, and her attitude was that it was my problem and not theirs.

It's an Amazon.com branded Visa, administered by Chase Bank.

her attitude was that it was my problem and not theirs.

Grrrrrr!!!

I suspect that this push towards wholesale automation is motivated by a desire to abdicate all human responsibility for system failures.

A few times I've had to run my card twice, but it always worked the second time. It doesn't surprise me that other people are having worse problems, though. I wonder if those machines were malfunctioning or if for some reason they have a hard time reading certain types of credit cards. Either way, that definitely needs addressing.

Hmmm, I was just about to hit "post" when something occurred to me. Since your credit card is brand new, is it one of the "tap 'n' go" ones with an RFID chip? If the machine recognized that there was an RFID chip but couldn't translate the information off it, might that make the whole thing wig out?

I don't *think* it has an RFID, but these days, who knows?

probably not helpful, but I'm trying:

I expect these machines don't have a strip of little logos showing you which networks they subscribe to, right? I ran into a problem with an ATM that was on some odd private banking network; told me I didn't have any funds at all.

Re: probably not helpful, but I'm trying:

Not that I've noticed. And even if they did, they all ought to share the same set of networks, one would expect.

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