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Ventra cards


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#521 Vinny

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 06:39 AM

I'm going to try one of these fare card conversion events today.  Of course, the Ventra cards that will replace my CC Plus cards haven't arrived yet.  But I have some transcards and a regular Chicago Card as well.  I don't want to dump the entire CC balance on a single Ventra card though, I wonder if they'll be set up to split up a CC among multiple Ventra cards or alternately convert just a particular amount from CC to Ventra.  My guess is that it will be an all-or-nothing deal (especially since I've seen somewhere (Hilkevitch?) that the conversions are limited to a single Ventra card per customer at these events).

 

Also, I had a problem entering one of the high barrier gates at the Irving Park Blue Line auxiliary entrance the other day - the transfer registered on my Chicago Card but then the gate locked when I tried to go through.  The customer rep asked if someone using a Ventra card had gone through immediately before me (yes).  He said it was happening all the time.



#522 Busjack

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 09:06 AM

The foul up du jour, as reported by the CTA Tattler, is if you pay the $5 deposit but don't put transit value on the card, you can't register it, even though it was represented that you could immediately register the card and get the $5 as transit value.

 

That, of course, reminded me about sw's discourse about the two PLUs, and apparently shows what happens if both are not recorded. Also, no indication yet that telephone support is adequate to fix all these problems.



#523 Amtrak41

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 11:38 AM

That seems to go hand-in-hand with nailing you every 18 months for inactivity. They don't want:

 

1) low-use customers cluttering their database

2) tourists to get one at all,

3) would rather tourist pay for a $3 ticket, just as they stiffed us for a 74% increase for the 1-day pass.

 

which makes this tourist all the more resolute to defy authority figures and get one, which I will (one of these days) since I have a registered CC.



#524 BusHunter

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 11:43 AM

The foul up du jour, as reported by the CTA Tattler, is if you pay the $5 deposit but don't put transit value on the card, you can't register it, even though it was represented that you could immediately register the card and get the $5 as transit value.

 

That, of course, reminded me about sw's discourse about the two PLUs, and apparently shows what happens if both are not recorded. Also, no indication yet that telephone support is adequate to fix all these problems.

That's interesting, I thought some of us were doing just that. So if someone puts $5 on a card and does not register it, waits a few months and starts using it they should still not have lost the $5, because as I understand it the dormancy fee is in the neighborhood of 18 months.

 

Back to the negative balance discussion, I'm surprised Ventra doesn't allow a negative account as long as it doesn't exceed say $5. They have your name and know you will come back to using that same card so they can hit you up for more fees. It doesn't really matter if the account is linked to a bank account or not. They could restrict the number of active accounts to a participant, this way you just can't go out and get more cards.

 

I'm starting to see multiple Ventra machines in certain locations, one that comes to mind is at Washington/Blue line Washington street mezzanine where they have 2 ventra machines now versus one transit card machine. Usage seems to be climbing to among riders, I would say they are up from 10 percent usage to maybe 30-50 percent now.



#525 Busjack

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 12:13 PM

That's interesting, I thought some of us were doing just that. So if someone puts $5 on a card and does not register it, waits a few months and starts using it they should still not have lost the $5, because as I understand it the dormancy fee is in the neighborhood of 18 months.

 

...

As I understand what was in the CTA Tattler, that wasn't the issue.

 

The issue was that if you only paid $5, you couldn't register it, and you can't use the $5 as transit value until you register it, which you can't, unless you put more money on it.

 

That's why I mentioned PLUs. Apparently you have to give your friendly Jewel clerk enough money to have punched on the receipt the transactions for both the deposit and some transit value, or what you bought is worthless, at least in the near term.



#526 Amtrak41

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 12:14 PM

When my WMATA Smartcard was near expiration, the new one was to cost $5, I made sure my last ride on the system left a negative balance (of $2.10). They could not link the $2.10 to the $5 for a new card, so it cost me only $2,.90, and I screwed them out of $2.10.



#527 Busjack

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 12:22 PM

...

 

Back to the negative balance discussion, I'm surprised Ventra doesn't allow a negative account as long as it doesn't exceed say $5. They have your name and know you will come back to using that same card so they can hit you up for more fees....

I think Amtrak41 subsequently answered that question. There is nothing to prevent you from buying another card. Maybe there is something preventing you from registering multiple cards in one name.

 

When my WMATA Smartcard was near expiration, the new one was to cost $5, I made sure my last ride on the system left a negative balance (of $2.10). They could not link the $2.10 to the $5 for a new card, so it cost me only $2,.90, and I screwed them out of $2.10.

I guess the issue is whether the transit authorities are in the business of letting you run up a "bar tab," or should just be refusing service if your card doesn't have sufficient value. No different than a bank allowing an overdraft on a checking account debit card and then charging you an overdraft fee, even though you didn't request overdraft protection, which I understand is no longer allowed.



#528 BusHunter

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 01:02 PM

As I understand what was in the CTA Tattler, that wasn't the issue.

 

The issue was that if you only paid $5, you couldn't register it, and you can't use the $5 as transit value until you register it, which you can't, unless you put more money on it.

 

That's why I mentioned PLUs. Apparently you have to give your friendly Jewel clerk enough money to have punched on the receipt the transactions for both the deposit and some transit value, or what you bought is worthless, at least in the near term.

So what's to stop you from putting $5.05 on a ventra card. Couldn't you register it then.



#529 Vinny

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 01:57 PM

I think Amtrak41 subsequently answered that question. There is nothing to prevent you from buying another card. Maybe there is something preventing you from registering multiple cards in one name.

 

I can answer that one.  I already have three registered to my name - two CC plus conversions (which I have not yet received) and one I bought the other day.



#530 sw4400

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 02:03 PM

So what's to stop you from putting $5.05 on a ventra card. Couldn't you register it then.

 

I think I can answer from a Merchant's perspective...

 

We can only upload what the little Ventra loading machine on our Service Desks allow. The lowest amount for fare we can load is $1. So you could buy a Ventra Card for $6($1+$5 fee). There is no cent amount on the machines and we have to input whatever we put in the loading machine into the register to complete the sale.



#531 Vinny

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 08:11 PM

The Ventra fare conversion event at Gompers Park had a mix of CTA and Cubic employees -- I asked the ladies with the laptops (which had Cubic IT stickers on them) who were crediting new Ventra cards with the fares from surrendered fare media if they worked for CTA, to which they responded, "We're all just one big happy family."  I laughed out loud.  The CTA employees were just running the card readers and verifying the balances on the cards.

 

However, they did accommodate my request to split my Chicago Card balance between two Ventra cards with no problem.  So now I have four Ventra cards on my account.



#532 sw4400

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 08:12 PM

As I understand it, the pass that is in queue will activate the first time either of the following happens:

1) You ride a Pace bus.

2) You ride CTA or Pace after the other 7-day pass expires...

 

 

 

And I have never personally tried this and can't guarantee it will work the
way it is advertised.  Please let us know how it works out for you.

 

I had to use the Ventra card this afternoon for a little running around and upon checking this evening, the CTA/PACE 7-Day Pass has activated and is running until 9/26/13.



#533 jtrosario

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 10:30 PM

The Ventra fare conversion event at Gompers Park had a mix of CTA and Cubic employees -- I asked the ladies with the laptops (which had Cubic IT stickers on them) who were crediting new Ventra cards with the fares from surrendered fare media if they worked for CTA, to which they responded, "We're all just one big happy family."  I laughed out loud.  The CTA employees were just running the card readers and verifying the balances on the cards.

 

However, they did accommodate my request to split my Chicago Card balance between two Ventra cards with no problem.  So now I have four Ventra cards on my account.

I went to the event today as well, just before hand, adding value to one of my kids reduced-fare cards so it became a $3.30 card. Brought that with the other two 0.85-cent cards and walked out with a registered $5 Ventra card.

 

Got a hint from a manager from Ventra who was at the event: I put the above Ventra card under my wife's name as my CC Plus-to-Ventra card is still "in the mail". That way the CC Plus conversion will be done under my name. I can then call Ventra and have them "link" the two cards together. My understanding is that both cards will then share the same balance. (We solely use pay-per-use). He mentioned having two separate names under the same address will make the linking process easier. I then drove to a nearby station to verify that my new Ventra card had $5 of transit value on it. It did.

 

My Ventra card issued today expires in January 2018 - so not quite 5 years until expiration, but definitely 4+ years.

 

Regarding the $5 minimum for conversion from one or multiple magnetic cards, I was told that if they weren't busy (they weren't at 6pm), that the $5 minimum would be (unofficially) waived and someone could get any amount converted over while registering at these events. However, if 1000 people were in line, then the $5 minimum would be enforced. They simply don't want 100s of people showing up with 0.25-cent cards in hand.

 

He also mentioned that in a slow period elsewhere, a lady showed up with 50-some cards to convert and got a Ventra card with $80 on it. She also mentioned she could bring in 5 cards a day for every event. She was told "No thanks".

 

Also found out that if you ALREADY have a Ventra card from any source that you can convert your media and add it to your existing Ventra card at these same events. For some reason that wasn't clear to me before hand. Sure wish there was an FAQ somewhere to read.

 

Vinny, I didn't even think they were taking Chicago Cards at these events. I literally had my CC Plus in my wallet and thought they were ONLY converting magnetic cards.  Of course, maybe CC Plus is in it's own category. Anyone on here know? If not, I'll show up at another event and convert that balance as well and be done with my Ventra conversion.

 

I ride so infrequently, I'm more in the category of "touring suburban family". I figure the bugs will be worked out soon, or we'll get some free-ride waive-throughs like others have mentioned.



#534 jtrosario

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 11:13 PM

That seems to go hand-in-hand with nailing you every 18 months for inactivity. They don't want:

 

1) low-use customers cluttering their database

2) tourists to get one at all,

3) would rather tourist pay for a $3 ticket, just as they stiffed us for a 74% increase for the 1-day pass.

 

which makes this tourist all the more resolute to defy authority figures and get one, which I will (one of these days) since I have a registered CC.

MAJOR EDIT on this 1st paragraph:

Upon reading the (outrageously enormous volume of miniscule small print) Cardholder Agreement this evening, I would [eat my words, as the web-based transit account agreement is NOT the paper-based debit account agreement that comes with the Ventra card. The paper-based debit account agreement] starts with this:

 

"Cardholder Agreement

IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

1.  Terms and Conditions for your Optional Ventra Money Network MasterCard Prepaid Debit Card."

...

"In this Agreement, 'Card' means the Ventra Money Network MasterCard Prepaid Debit Card issued to you by MetaBank."

...

In Section 2:

"Loading Your Card: you may add funds to your Card account, called 'prepaid loading', at any time. You agree to present the Card and meet identification requirements to complete load transactions as may be required from time to time."

...

"6.  Fees and Limitations. To the extent permitted by applicable laws, the following Prepaid Debit Account fees will apply to your Card:

Monthly Maintenance Fee* $2.00

(only applies if no load activity in a previous 18-month period)"

...

" * Subject to applicable law, beginning on the 19th month, a monthly fee of $2.00 will be deducted from your Prepaid Debit Account only if there has been no load activity within a consecutive 18-month period. This fee will be assessed each month as long as there are funds remaining on your Card."

...

 

EDIT:

[This particular] contract only applies to the Prepaid Debit Card Option of which I have no intention of ever using.

 

UPDATE:

Although I registered and received this new Ventra card just after 6pm, the following three entries were created in the "Support History" of my (wife's) new Ventra account:

11:17:41 PM New Registration, Customer Service, Closed Incident 
11:17:44 PM Card Registration, Customer Service, Closed Incident 
11:17:45 PM Nickname Change, Customer Service, Closed Incident



#535 MarioM

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 11:22 PM

Thanks for the reports on your experiences at the Ventra events!  Lots of new information there.  Please keep 'em coming.

 

As for registering multiple cards, even if you don't have a wife, I assume you can still use something like Robert Smith, Bob Smith, Rob Smith, Bobby Smith, Robby Smith, R Smith, B Smith, Robert A Smith, Robert B Smith, and so on.  You might want to give your alter-egos different birthdays.



#536 MarioM

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 11:30 PM

Upon reading the (outrageously enormous volume of miniscule small print) Cardholder Agreement this evening, I would disagree with the 18 month inactivity assumption applying to "transit value" that's being passed around. It starts with this:

 

"Cardholder Agreement

IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

1.  Terms and Conditions for your Optional Ventra Money Network MasterCard Prepaid Debit Card."

...

"In this Agreement, 'Card' means the Ventra Money Network MasterCard Prepaid Debit Card issued to you by MetaBank."

...

 

You're reading the cardholder agreement for the debit card.  Both the debit card and the transit card accounts have separate inactivity fees.  If you activate the debit card feature you could be liable for the debit card inactivity fee if you don't use the debit card feature.

 

 

Here are the Ventra transit card account terms and conditions.

 

"


    Dormancy Fee



    If a Ventra Account has been inactive for 18 continuous months (it has
not been used for transit or reloaded), a dormancy fee of $5 per month
will be charged against the account until the balance is reduced to
zero. Before the dormancy fee begins to be deducted, any unused pass
products in the account will first be converted to Transit Value for the
amount initially paid for that pass. You can stop the monthly deduction
of the dormancy fee at any time with a single use of the account for
transit or by adding value to your account. If you have registered your
Ventra Account and provided contact information, you will be sent a
warning notice at 15 months of inactivity to inform you that your
account is dormant and a dormancy fee will soon be charged.



    The monthly dormancy fee is $5. If the value in your Ventra Account is
less than the dormancy fee, the remaining value in your account will be
reduced to zero."



#537 jtrosario

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 11:39 PM

You're reading the cardholder agreement for the debit card.  Both the debit card and the transit card accounts have separate inactivity fees.  If you activate the debit card feature you could be liable for the debit card inactivity fee if you don't use the debit card feature.

 

 

Here are the Ventra transit card account terms and conditions.

...

"

I stand corrected.  $5/month fee for a dormant "transit" account and $2/month fee for a dormant "debit" account, each occuring after 18 months of inactivity in their respective separate accounts.

 

Wow, MetaBank and/or CTA/Pace/Metra is going to make quite some profit from the small print.



#538 Vinny

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 07:00 AM

I went to the event today as well, just before hand, adding value to one of my kids reduced-fare cards so it became a $3.30 card. Brought that with the other two 0.85-cent cards and walked out with a registered $5 Ventra card.

 

Got a hint from a manager from Ventra who was at the event: I put the above Ventra card under my wife's name as my CC Plus-to-Ventra card is still "in the mail". That way the CC Plus conversion will be done under my name. I can then call Ventra and have them "link" the two cards together. My understanding is that both cards will then share the same balance. (We solely use pay-per-use). He mentioned having two separate names under the same address will make the linking process easier. I then drove to a nearby station to verify that my new Ventra card had $5 of transit value on it. It did.

 

My Ventra card issued today expires in January 2018 - so not quite 5 years until expiration, but definitely 4+ years.

 

Regarding the $5 minimum for conversion from one or multiple magnetic cards, I was told that if they weren't busy (they weren't at 6pm), that the $5 minimum would be (unofficially) waived and someone could get any amount converted over while registering at these events. However, if 1000 people were in line, then the $5 minimum would be enforced. They simply don't want 100s of people showing up with 0.25-cent cards in hand.

 

He also mentioned that in a slow period elsewhere, a lady showed up with 50-some cards to convert and got a Ventra card with $80 on it. She also mentioned she could bring in 5 cards a day for every event. She was told "No thanks".

 

Also found out that if you ALREADY have a Ventra card from any source that you can convert your media and add it to your existing Ventra card at these same events. For some reason that wasn't clear to me before hand. Sure wish there was an FAQ somewhere to read.

 

Vinny, I didn't even think they were taking Chicago Cards at these events. I literally had my CC Plus in my wallet and thought they were ONLY converting magnetic cards.  Of course, maybe CC Plus is in it's own category. Anyone on here know? If not, I'll show up at another event and convert that balance as well and be done with my Ventra conversion.

 

Not sure about being able to share transit value between two cards.  If you navigate through the Ventra card account page, each card shows its own separate balance.  The "linking" you mention above is probably just having them as part of the same Ventra login account.  Mine has four cards currently but each has its own separate balance, and I don't think there's any way to move funds from one Ventra card to another.

 

I brought my already-registered Ventra card to the event (that I bought at the Jackson station) and once they confirmed that they could split the value of my Chicago Card between two Ventra cards, I stood in line to get an additional card (you can bypass that line if you already have a card registered) and then had the balance from the CC put on my two Ventra cards.

 

To your last paragraph, CC and CC Plus are treated very differently.  AFAIK you can't convert value from a CC Plus card at these events.  CC Plus has an online account mechanism with auto funding and passes while the CC (blue cards) do not - they are only stored value cards with no pass capability.  I've gotten emails about both the CC Plus (yellow) and CC (blue) and everything I've seen suggests that the balances from the CC Plus cards will transfer to new Ventra cards once you receive them in the mail and register them.  

 

They are supposed to be sending out Ventra cards to CC holders also but the balances won't be transferred - you either have to go to one of these events or mail them to CTA HQ to be converted (I'm betting you'll be able to walk them in to the customer service counter on the 2nd floor at 567 W Lake and do it in person).



#539 jajuan

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 10:31 PM

I found one snafu on my Ventra account this evening, but before anyone gets excited this one is actually minor. On my way home from work I rode a 157, 135 and a 36 because I needed to do a little shopping along the way home. Ventra recorded my ride on the 135 as a ride on the 148. I guess the system couldn't tell the difference between "Clarendon/Michigan Express" and "Clarendon/La Salle Express". :D



#540 Busjack

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 08:06 AM

I found one snafu on my Ventra account this evening, but before anyone gets excited this one is actually minor. On my way home from work I rode a 157, 135 and a 36 because I needed to do a little shopping along the way home. Ventra recorded my ride on the 135 as a ride on the 148. I guess the system couldn't tell the difference between "Clarendon/Michigan Express" and "Clarendon/La Salle Express". :D

That would lead to the question whether there is a link to the Clever Devices system to pick up the route number, especially if it were interlined. When you put it that way, I'm surprised that it records anything other than "bus 4023."





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