Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Constructive Tweeting

I had a bummer experience on Metro last Friday. After leaving a little early to be able to purchase some breakfast on my way to work, I arrived with a good 3 minutes to purchase my one-way pass with my pre-paid token. The first machine I used ate my token. I put it in and nothing happened, no ticket, no returned token. Now instead of being a smart Metro rider, I decided to try the same machine again. I thought maybe my first token was stuck and the second would jar it. Bad idea as my second token was promptly swallowed up.

The Mission Gold Line station only has two machines for each direction. The other was being used by what I could only assume was an infrequent Metro rider, as she used at $20 bill to purchase her $1.50 pass and spent several moments trying to count up her $1 coins. Luckily, she finished up her transaction in time for me to put my 3rd token in the second machine and retrieve my fare with time to run to the train. So after $4.50 spent in tokens I finally had valid proof of fare. Needless to say I was not pleased and promptly fired off a tweet to @metrolosangeles. I received a reply tweet a few hours later that I should call the 323.Go.Metro customer service line to report what had happened or use the intercom located next to the ticket machines in the future. Unfortunately, neither of these options would work for me, because the Customer Service line has notoriously interminable wait times (over 20 minutes) to reach an agent and I was not going to miss my train just to talk to someone on the intercom. Plus, I feel that Twitter is a great forum to receive real-time information from customers about service issues and relay the information to whomever needs to know and if @metrolosangeles is not the appropriate Twitter handle to respond to, I suggest the Customer Service folks at 323.Go.Metro to start their own.

I guess to add icing on the cake, when I exited at Union Station I was greeted by no less than 6 Sheriff officers asking for proof of fare. If I had been someone who could not afford to waste 3 tokens or who only had exact fare I would have been fined despite my good faith effort. I made sure to relay to them the problem at Mission Station's ticket machine and they did seem to be at least mildly interested in the information.

For better or worse, my tweet was posted on Metro's Source blog. I hope to be listed under compliments in addition to rants one day, because no one likes a Debbie Downer.