I love using mass transit. It's the environment-friendly choice.
I use the subway frequently. Most of the time, the MBTA here in Boston works pretty well. The re-loadable payment cards are really convenient. However, a recent change by the MBTA left me inconvenienced and puzzled.
If you use a Charlie Card, then pay attention. It seems that the MBTA modified their payment card systems... and didn't tell their customers. You may find that your Charlie Card abruptly stops working. Several friends have reported this. If your card stops working, don't throw it out. Here's why.
Look at the identification number on the bottom front of your Charlie Card. If it is printed in red font, then your card is one of the defective ones. The cards with black font work. I suspect that the font type is just a symptom of an underlying problem with the card's internal magnetic encoding.
The MBTA management is strangely silent on the subject.
The cynic in me wonders if the MBTA is hoping to enjoy a windfall of cash when customers discard in the trash their non-working Charlie Cards. Don't throw out your defective Charlie Card. Visit one of the MBTA customer service offices and demand a working replacement. You'll get one with the same amount of stored value which was on your old card.
I spent a half hour this afternoon doing just that at the MBTA Customer Service desk at the Downtown Crossing Red Line station. The customer service rep was very polite. She was able to easily and quickly read the stored value on my defective card, and provide a replacement. By her attitude, it seems that she has encountered this situation before.
So, a word to the wise. You have been warned. Maybe next time, MBTA management will be proactive and alert its customers. If you have experienced a problem with your Charlie Card, share your story below.