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ultrarunner2020

Metrocard problems - swiping and refilling

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Hi;

First, let me apologize if this question(s) have been brought up before, but I did a search and couldn't find anything very recent, so either the problems have existed for a long time, or they are occurring again.

I have been riding the NYC subways about every two weeks, mostly on weekends. The stations I use most frequently are:
#1 line; 181st and 242/VC
Times Sq shuttle from GCT to TS.

Let me start by saying that I have yet to get through a turnstile on my first swipe. It has taken me up to 5 attempts at 181 st, 2-3 at 242 st/VC, and always at least 2 at GCT.
While I understand that, not being a regular rider, I probably don't have the technique down pat the way the regulars do. After all, I see people going through all the time on their 1st swipe.
I keep my card away from my phone (if that is a problem), and has never been close to any electric/magnetic fields. I am careful to keep the mag stripe clear of anything that could damage it.

So there's that problem. And then there's the refill problem.
I have had trouble refilling my card at both the 181 st and 242/VC #1 stations. On two occasions within the past month, my Discover card was declined for incorrect zip code. In both instances, I entered my zip code correctly on the keypad, then hit the enter key. These machines do not provide any feedback - either visual or audio - when the zip code is being entered.
On both occasions, I made two unsuccessful attempts, then moved to another machine and was able to complete the transaction.

Am I doing something wrong? Should I try a different credit card (or cash) next time?
The main reason I don't use cash, is that I don't trust the machine not to eat my cash.
While the amount I put on my card are small, it is very annoying nonetheless.

Ultrarunner

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11 minutes ago, ultrarunner2020 said:

Hi;

First, let me apologize if this question(s) have been brought up before, but I did a search and couldn't find anything very recent, so either the problems have existed for a long time, or they are occurring again.

I have been riding the NYC subways about every two weeks, mostly on weekends. The stations I use most frequently are:
#1 line; 181st and 242/VC
Times Sq shuttle from GCT to TS.

Let me start by saying that I have yet to get through a turnstile on my first swipe. It has taken me up to 5 attempts at 181 st, 2-3 at 242 st/VC, and always at least 2 at GCT.
While I understand that, not being a regular rider, I probably don't have the technique down pat the way the regulars do. After all, I see people going through all the time on their 1st swipe.
I keep my card away from my phone (if that is a problem), and has never been close to any electric/magnetic fields. I am careful to keep the mag stripe clear of anything that could damage it.

So there's that problem. And then there's the refill problem.
I have had trouble refilling my card at both the 181 st and 242/VC #1 stations. On two occasions within the past month, my Discover card was declined for incorrect zip code. In both instances, I entered my zip code correctly on the keypad, then hit the enter key. These machines do not provide any feedback - either visual or audio - when the zip code is being entered.
On both occasions, I made two unsuccessful attempts, then moved to another machine and was able to complete the transaction.

Am I doing something wrong? Should I try a different credit card (or cash) next time?
The main reason I don't use cash, is that I don't trust the machine not to eat my cash.
While the amount I put on my card are small, it is very annoying nonetheless.

Ultrarunner

First off, 242nd Street Van Cortlandt Park regularly has Metrocard Vending Machines that are broken. I complained about this to then Senator Klein who represented my neighborhood.  The issue still continues. Out of the three machines, usually two are broken... The small credit/debit only machine and the bigger machine, leaving one machine for the hoards of people.  231st by comparison tends to be better maintained. I would re-fill there.  The turnstiles at 242nd are likely not maintained that well either.  I can't say much about 181st street, but likely a similar scenario.

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Do you know if the machines at the 42nd st (Port Authority Bus Terminal) station (ACE) are better maintained?

I normally wind up back there after walking through the passage from the shuttle.

Note that I don't normally travel 'round-trip'. I usually take a bus from NJ over the GWB, walk to the 181st #1 station, and take it to Van Cortlandt Park.Van Cortlandt, I run (by foot) on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail to Tarrytown.

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Woops... I accidentally hit a key that posted the message before I had finished composing it...

From Tarrytown, I take MNCR to GCT, then the Shuttle back to Times Square, and finally walk through the passage to the PABT.

I would expect (but not assume) that the machines at a station like 42nd st would get a lot more maintenance, so it would probably be best for me to refill there.

 

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I've swiped a metrocard more times than I can count, and I still get "swipe again" messages fairly often. The turnstiles are poorly maintained, not much you can do about it. 

Same deal for the MVMs. They just suck. They are the only machines I use that don't accept chips on credit cards. I don't know how the MTA gets away with that. 

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Pretty sure that it’s how fast or slow you swipe.

But I also am in the midst of a two year run with having only had my eggs scrambled by a turnstile twice.

Having said that, it takes ~5 seconds for the bus farebox to read my MetroCard, so (insert shrug emoji here).

But the credit card thing is all over - however my issue is always that the MVM needs 5 swipes to read any card I use.

The ZIP Code thing is probably buttons getting stuck or not hitting the contact pad and circuit board squarely underneath the keypad (learned about that fixing phones years ago working for MetroPCS).

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1 minute ago, QM1to6Ave said:

I've swiped a metrocard more times than I can count, and I still get "swipe again" messages fairly often. The turnstiles are poorly maintained, not much you can do about it. 

Same deal for the MVMs. They just suck. They are the only machines I use that don't accept chips on credit cards. I don't know how the MTA gets away with that. 

I’m looking forward to the day when we just tap a card on MVMs - like damn near every other transit system.

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2 minutes ago, Deucey said:

I’m looking forward to the day when we just tap a card on MVMs - like damn near every other transit system.

I finally saw today the OMNI reader at 33rd st on the (6) turned on and said "pilot program starting soon"

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45 minutes ago, QM1to6Ave said:

I finally saw today the OMNI reader at 33rd st on the (6) turned on and said "pilot program starting soon"

Soon™

  • LMAO! 2
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And to make matters worse, the MVM I used at 181 st is going to charge me even though the transaction was denied. I made 2 attempts at the first machine, and got the same 'incorrect zip code' error both times. Then I went to another machine and was able to complete the refill.

Now, I look at my credit card 'recent transactions' and see a total of 4 pending transactions, each for $10 (the value I refilled). Only one of those is a credit. The bad machine should have transmitted a second credit. The receipt I got from the machine where I did complete the transaction clearly states that no value was added to my card by the first machine.
At least I only do $10 per refill - so there's no great loss if it takes a long time to credit my account. That said, it is still possible that the extra charge will be removed, or a credit will be issued. Last time this happened, a credit was issued by the machine for both failed transactions, and these disappeared from my account after a few days, leaving only the correct charge.

Regardless of the paltry amount I was overcharged, I will dispute it with my bank.
I found a website to file with the MTA for this sort of thing, but they need to know the MVM number. I got the number on the receipt from the good machine, but since I didn't get a receipt from the bad machine, I will need to check it next time I go into the station. I assume the number is displayed somewhere on the machine...

On a somewhat different subject:
When I used the 181 st #1 station last Sunday, I was a bit concerned at how slowly, and noisily the elevator was working. I know they're going to replace the elevators in that station in a couple of years, but I'm starting to worry about getting stuck on it someday. So maybe instead of using that station, I'll start taking the A train uptown from 175 st and either running to VC from there, or walking over to the 207 st #1 station and taking advantage of the 'temporary' free out of system transfer, which I believe is in effect until the 168 st station reopens.

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2 minutes ago, ultrarunner2020 said:

Now, I look at my credit card 'recent transactions' and see a total of 4 pending transactions, each for $10 (the value I refilled). Only one of those is a credit. The bad machine should have transmitted a second credit. The receipt I got from the machine where I did complete the transaction clearly states that no value was added to my card by the first machine.

Those are just holds. If only one transaction went through, then (MTA) won’t have the approval codes required for the bank to release the other holds.

You just have those holds because (MTA) attempted multiple transactions (likely corresponding to each of your credit card swipes).

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1 hour ago, Deucey said:

Those are just holds. If only one transaction went through, then (MTA) won’t have the approval codes required for the bank to release the other holds.

You just have those holds because (MTA) attempted multiple transactions (likely corresponding to each of your credit card swipes).

That makes the most sense, but I am curious as to why one of the failed transactions was already credited (showing as a pending transaction of -$10) while the other was not. I guess I just need to be patient, and check my account in a couple of days after all the pending transactions have been either put through or cancelled.

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1 hour ago, ultrarunner2020 said:

That makes the most sense, but I am curious as to why one of the failed transactions was already credited (showing as a pending transaction of -$10) while the other was not. I guess I just need to be patient, and check my account in a couple of days after all the pending transactions have been either put through or cancelled.

Could be Discover already rejected or (MTA) reversed it on its own.

Sometimes merchants will send two approval requests when they do a swipe transaction (vs a chip transaction) just in case the system fails (which (MTA) is prone to do - which is why we have to insert cards multiple times in MVMs). If the first one gets an approval number, the subsequent one is typically declined by Visa/Amex et.al, and the hold is released in 48 hours.

It's when both transactions get approved that you have the issue. But with declines, IIRC they have 5 days to provide the approval code to the card issuer/network before it's automatically declined/rejected, so I wouldn't worry unless Discover shows every transaction was approved.

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14 hours ago, ultrarunner2020 said:

Woops... I accidentally hit a key that posted the message before I had finished composing it...

From Tarrytown, I take MNCR to GCT, then the Shuttle back to Times Square, and finally walk through the passage to the PABT.

I would expect (but not assume) that the machines at a station like 42nd st would get a lot more maintenance, so it would probably be best for me to refill there.

 

I usually just refill in Manhattan at a place like Grand Central, and I try to avoid doing things like that on weekends. I suspect that they don't maintain the machines on weekends, given how many of them seem to be out of order for one reason or another.

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Well, it looks like I'm only being charged for the one transaction where my Metrocard was actually refilled. There are still the pending transactions, but only one charge was put through.

While on the subject, I'm perplexed as to how my Metrocard got such a strange balance: The last time I swiped, the display said I had $6.78 remaining on the card.
When I refilled last Sunday, the starting balance was $1.78. I added $10 to the card. I received the $0.50 bonus, so the total was $$12.28. I swiped twice after that, leaving $6.78. So where did the extra .03 come from?

 

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10 hours ago, ultrarunner2020 said:

Well, it looks like I'm only being charged for the one transaction where my Metrocard was actually refilled. There are still the pending transactions, but only one charge was put through.

While on the subject, I'm perplexed as to how my Metrocard got such a strange balance: The last time I swiped, the display said I had $6.78 remaining on the card.
When I refilled last Sunday, the starting balance was $1.78. I added $10 to the card. I received the $0.50 bonus, so the total was $$12.28. I swiped twice after that, leaving $6.78. So where did the extra .03 come from?

 

The net effective fare?

IDK what it is since I buy unlimited, but when you swipe it’s saying $2.75 but I believe it’s actually taking a discounted rate.

But someone who understands that formula better can do that math for you.

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On 3/25/2019 at 3:48 PM, ultrarunner2020 said:

Hi;

First, let me apologize if this question(s) have been brought up before, but I did a search and couldn't find anything very recent, so either the problems have existed for a long time, or they are occurring again.

I have been riding the NYC subways about every two weeks, mostly on weekends. The stations I use most frequently are:
#1 line; 181st and 242/VC
Times Sq shuttle from GCT to TS.

Let me start by saying that I have yet to get through a turnstile on my first swipe. It has taken me up to 5 attempts at 181 st, 2-3 at 242 st/VC, and always at least 2 at GCT.
While I understand that, not being a regular rider, I probably don't have the technique down pat the way the regulars do. After all, I see people going through all the time on their 1st swipe.
I keep my card away from my phone (if that is a problem), and has never been close to any electric/magnetic fields. I am careful to keep the mag stripe clear of anything that could damage it.

So there's that problem. And then there's the refill problem.
I have had trouble refilling my card at both the 181 st and 242/VC #1 stations. On two occasions within the past month, my Discover card was declined for incorrect zip code. In both instances, I entered my zip code correctly on the keypad, then hit the enter key. These machines do not provide any feedback - either visual or audio - when the zip code is being entered.
On both occasions, I made two unsuccessful attempts, then moved to another machine and was able to complete the transaction.

Am I doing something wrong? Should I try a different credit card (or cash) next time?
The main reason I don't use cash, is that I don't trust the machine not to eat my cash.
While the amount I put on my card are small, it is very annoying nonetheless.

Ultrarunner

It not MTA Turnstyle. Sometimes turnstile ownned by MTA at Roosevelt Island Tramway stations and MVM at Hempstead Transit Center gets broken a lot.

Even MTA Farebox on NICE Bus.

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On 3/26/2019 at 12:02 PM, Deucey said:

Could be Discover already rejected or (MTA) reversed it on its own.

Sometimes merchants will send two approval requests when they do a swipe transaction (vs a chip transaction) just in case the system fails (which (MTA) is prone to do - which is why we have to insert cards multiple times in MVMs). If the first one gets an approval number, the subsequent one is typically declined by Visa/Amex et.al, and the hold is released in 48 hours.

It's when both transactions get approved that you have the issue. But with declines, IIRC they have 5 days to provide the approval code to the card issuer/network before it's automatically declined/rejected, so I wouldn't worry unless Discover shows every transaction was approved.

Yes five days or the hold drops off.

 

23 hours ago, ultrarunner2020 said:

Well, it looks like I'm only being charged for the one transaction where my Metrocard was actually refilled. There are still the pending transactions, but only one charge was put through.

While on the subject, I'm perplexed as to how my Metrocard got such a strange balance: The last time I swiped, the display said I had $6.78 remaining on the card.
When I refilled last Sunday, the starting balance was $1.78. I added $10 to the card. I received the $0.50 bonus, so the total was $$12.28. I swiped twice after that, leaving $6.78. So where did the extra .03 come from?

 

There’s no extra .03 cents. You had $1.78. You refilled with $10.00, with a 5% bonus, giving you $12.28. $12.28 - 2.75 is $9.53, amd $9.53 - 2.75 is $6.78. The weird amount depends on previous refills you may have done.

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4 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

Yes five days or the hold drops off.

 

There’s no extra .03 cents. You had $1.78. You refilled with $10.00, with a 5% bonus, giving you $12.28. $12.28 - 2.75 is $9.53, amd $9.53 - 2.75 is $6.78. The weird amount depends on previous refills you may have done.

That's the point. I have always refilled at the $10 level. It must have been when I first purchased the card. It was also $10, but there was a charge of $1.00 for the new card.

Whatever, it's just my curiosity. Not at all important. Too bad the bonus is going away in April, but it's better than a fare increase.

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On 3/25/2019 at 9:12 PM, Deucey said:

I’m looking forward to the day when we just tap a card on MVMs - like damn near every other transit system.

If this will be like Oyster 2.0 or Ventra you could probably just go log in on a website and put in your payment via the internet, no MVM required.

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6 hours ago, ultrarunner2020 said:

That's the point. I have always refilled at the $10 level. It must have been when I first purchased the card. It was also $10, but there was a charge of $1.00 for the new card.

Whatever, it's just my curiosity. Not at all important. Too bad the bonus is going away in April, but it's better than a fare increase.

Yes you should look at your previous refills. A part of me doesn’t mind the bonus going away. No more weird amounts left, which the (MTA) usually gets anyway since most people leave the odd amounts on their cards.

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