Monday, 14 October 2013

myki public transport ticketing designed by Kafka

And we're back...Inspiration left me for a while there.  I think it was because I did something exciting that I can't tell you about just yet.  Time had to pass so there was space for something else to focus on.  And what better way than to talk about another bizarre process that I've discovered with Melbourne's public transport ticketing system, myki.

Things have been running fairly smoothly lately.  Generally, I've always thought that the day to day transactions with the card have run fairly well.  It's when you head into the "back office" process that the Kafkaesque trouble starts.

Last Thursday I travelled all over the place and then when I arrived at my home station, I could not find my myki.  Luckily I had registered the card so could immediately call and have the card blocked.  This protects any balance remaining on the card.  So far so good.  I also wanted the remaining balance returned to me. This is where the complexity seeps in.  They will transfer the balance onto a new myki and send it out in the mail as a result of my telephone request.  Sounds straightforward, except that I don't want or need another myki.  I have about half a dozen sitting on my desk.  These have been acquired for friends visiting or when I've arrived at the station and discovered the ticket isn't in my handbag so I've had to buy a whole new one (this could be rectified if there was a short term ticket option, but that has been explicitly ruled out by the State Government). I also acquired a couple through tasks required while I was a member of the customer experience panel giving feeback about all aspects of my experience with myki.

I asked for the balance to be put on one of the other cards that are registered on my account.  I was informed that the only way that can be done is if I fill in a paper form and post it in. The money is then transferred onto the card with the number nominated on the form. (Surprisingly) I don't even have to send in the myki I want to transfer to.  Why is a paper form required when all the details of registered cards are on my secure profile? (See what the Minister said about this issue in February 2012.)

"Why?" I asked.  "Because that's the process," came the answer.  To confuse matters further, the name of the form is "Refund and Reimbursement" which isn't really what we're talking about - it's a balance transfer.

Then I was informed that I was getting the benefit of a new card without having to pay the $6 purchase price.  That's true, except that I don't want or need another card and this is a public cost which is unnecessary.  What I want is my unused balance from the lost card to be put onto one of the cards I already have.  The cost would be minimal - especially if I could do it myself through my online account. Under the current process, the cost of a new card is added.

In the interests of highlighting problems so they can be fixed, I lodged feedback, specifically asking about why this is the process. Today I received a call from Kylie who informed me about the process.  I told her that I already know what the process is and I'm interested to know why this is the process. The conversation was pointless.

"All I can do is tell you what the process is and all you keep asking is why!"

"Well that's actually what I want to know."

"Well all I can tell you is what the process is."

"That's terrific, but I already know what the process is.  I actually want to understand the thinking that designed the process and point out how silly it is."

"All I can do is explain the process."

"What's the purpose of this phone call then? Was my feedback request not clear?"

"It was clear, but all I can do is explain the process and you keep asking why."

"Who should I be speaking to then?"

At the end of that exasperating exchange I was told to contact Public Transport Victoria via email or mail.

"Where are you from then? I thought I had contacted PTV initially."

"I work for PTV."

"Isn't that who you've said I have to talk to?"

"Yes, but I'm only in the myki section."

"But I'm wanting to talk about myki!"

"You need to send an email."

It's fitting really.  With such a costly, old-fashioned and convoluted process to get $4.84 back I don't know why I thought the feedback process would be smooth, streamlined and efficient. The other thing about all these processes is that the work onus is on the customer not on the service provider.  There is a benefit to Australia Post, so that's something.

I knew it was going to be weird when I had to go through an identification process to have the feedback conversation!  I refrained from asking the one question that was on my mind: why?

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