Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Scam, You Scam, We All Scam

Train scams are top of mind for me lately.  You may have seen my post about the man who hid in the lavatory to avoid paying his fare.  There have been stories in the news lately about people using credit card skimming devices on ticket vending machines to steal your money.  What a wonderful world.

This has me thinking about how scamming is just a fact of life.  People try to beat fares, and the commuter rail organizations want to extract your money.  The LIRR is quite good at it, but they don't call their methods "scams."  They call them "policies."  Let's look at a few.

You don't want your ticket?  Of course you can have a refund.  Minus $10.  If you buy a ticket, don't use it, and want to return it, the LIRR will charge you a $10 processing fee. "Processing Fee" is a nice way of saying "we take $10 because we can.  And you can't do anything about it.  Ha Ha.  Ha Ha. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.  HA."  

What possible reason could they have for charging $10?  What are they doing with that $10?  Maybe they're improving customer service.  Mmm, no.  Calling the LIRR is about as pleasant as calling the DMV.  Maybe they're hiring people to clean the trains more frequently?  Nuh uh.  Oh I know! Pension scams!  Those scams aren't going to just fund themselves.  We all have to play our part.

You are going to use the ticket you just bought?  Hurry!  It's about to expire! Take a look at the picture below.  It's a ticket that was purchased on April 4th.  When does it expire?  June 2nd.  You have less than two months to use the ticket.  You used to be able to keep it for a year.  If you don't use the ticket by June 2nd, POOF!  The ticket is no longer good.  Thieves.

A round trip ticket.  Tick tock.
You forgot your monthly pass?  Aw, shucks.  So sorry, we know, it happens.  Go buy a ticket. The LIRR doesn't let you slide when you've forgotten your monthly ticket.  There was a time when they did forgive it, but not anymore.  They can't. Why?  Why not?  They're a monopoly, gosh darn it, and they're going to act like one.  You just landed on Boardwalk, and they have several hotels there.

Can you imagine treating your regular customers like this in a private business?  You'd have no customers.  You'd stand in your place of business, whether it be a store, a warehouse, or a corner where you sell blankets full of fake Louis Vuitton bags and iPhone cases, wondering why no one wants your goods and services.  The Long Island Rail Road doesn't have to worry about this, because they are propped up by various governments, and their customers have few other commuting choices.  Too bad.  Seems like any operation propped up by the government becomes a model of southern efficiency and northern charm.

Happy commuting, and may you encounter uncommon sense.

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