• Key Card Failure and Replacement Issues

  • Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.
Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.

Moderator: AlexC

  by rrbluesman
 
When the SEPTA Key became available, I was one of the first to go out and get one - my grievances have nothing to do with the greater system, implementation, rollout, etc, but the actual card itself and how SEPTA handles the card.

The first card I received from SEPTA was faulty on the spot, it just didn't work and they provided me a replacement free of charge, which worked. I continued to use that Keycard for a long time, but as time went on it became less and less reliable at the Key-machines, turnstiles, etc, until one day several months before it expired it just stopped working. I went to the Pennsylvania Suburban Station ticket window where they confirmed my key wasn't working but couldn't tell me why. They issued a replacement card free of charge, the Keycard I have now.

Several months ago I began experiencing the same problems with my current Keycard, intermittent scan failures at turnstiles, inability for the machines to read it, and a SEPTA conductor on a Regional Rail train informed me that my card had lost it's magnetism and I should call SEPTA Customer Service, which I did, and they told me to go to a ticket window for a replacement that I will have to pay for.

I have never abused my card and only use it for SEPTA, I do not understand why these cards keep failing and SEPTA now has no responsibility and expects me to pay for a replacement. Has anyone else experienced similar problems?
  by JimBoylan
 
I think that Customer Service is pulling the line that you should pay $4.95 for the replacement card, and hope to get the fee credited to your account, if you register the new card, and if this is only the 1st or 2nd time you have requested that kind of credit. You are still being hurt, because now there is 1 less time that you can get that credit in the future.
  by JeffK
 
Was it a standard card or a Senior Key? I’ve had numerous problems with my senior card and ran into a brick wall with Customer "Service". Its failure pattern was identical - fine at first, then occasional misreads, then barely working at all.

The final straw was when it refused to let me exit at Market East, excuse me, Jefferson. A SEPTA ambassador said "here, let me try" and lightly flexed the card — which split it in half. "No problem, it’s our fault. Just go over to 1234 and explain, they’ll give you a replacement".

Yeah, right. Two clerks at 1234 both insisted it was voluntary damage and that I’d not only have to pay $5 for a new card, any future problems would carry a $25 penalty for "mistreatment", whatever that means (!). I told them no way and filed a polite but firm incident report. Fortunately the ambassador at Jefferson was still on duty when I was headed home and let me back through.

A couple of days later I got a call from somebody higher up the food chain who gave me exactly the same nonsense as the clerks. Their line was essentially to take no responsibility for any damage or failure and that all costs are borne by the holder regardless.

At least for now I’m not pursuing the issue further because of COVID, but when I can travel again I’m not sure what’s next. Maybe wait till it expires (6 months out) which will reset the clock on getting a replacement ... ?
  by rdgrailfan
 
Well here it goes
The key card is subject to a high degree of failures due the "cost reductions" regarding the original design. They did not anticipate the high number of taps and the internal chip just fails,
My original card failed at a tap in at Willow Grove, later the conductor attempted to read the card, it just failed hard, It read on exit with no failure.

Replacement was my fault per 1234, I just refused to accept the decision. They replaced the card.
I have a debit card that I use a couple times a day over 3 years, never fails?? Wonder what the difference is in design and ultimate cost!
  by west point
 
Speculation: suppose there is a location that has a high magnetic flux that some persons walk by that can cause these failures ? That could be why only some persons are having failures ?
  by ryan92084
 
At this point any free replacements can be considered a gift as the official policy is no free replacements regardless of the reason (lost, stolen, broken, expired, etc). Standard key cards are $4.95 + the minimum balance to acquire. Outlying rail stations require a minimum of $5 ($9.95 total), kiosk minimum is $1 ($5.95 total), places like 69th street that can do the transfer at the time of purchase I believe will just charge the $4.95 for a replacement.

Senior and reduced fair cards are $5 for the first replacement and $25 for any subsequent replacements.

The bus readers are notoriously bad and fail to read cards that work everywhere else.
  by JeffK
 
My suspicion is that the high failure rate is primarily due to poor design rather than exposure to mag fields. I also have a DC Metro card and it’s considerably more robust than my (failed) Key. Thinking back, we had similar problems when my employer issued its first batch of electronic ID badges. They were equally flimsy and failed quickly despite being subject to less stress than might be typical for a Key, e.g. kept in a plastic holder, didn’t require direct reader contact, etc. It turned out they were so thin that over several months the simple act of holding them would cause enough flexing to break the embedded chip.

As far as replacement costs, I understand SEPTA needs to deter people from mangling the cards. At the same time, none of my dozen or so other commercially-issued credit cards, loyalty cards, etc. impose a fee for the first or often second replacement. Beyond that there definitely shouldn’t be a fee for exchanging an expired card because that’s outside the holder's control. In fact, from what I’ve heard the only reason cards have expiration dates at all is because SEPTA insisted that the Key also function as a debit card, a "feature" reportedly used by only a thousand or so holders.
  by 93r8g7
 
west point wrote: Fri Dec 18, 2020 9:45 pm Speculation: suppose there is a location that has a high magnetic flux that some persons walk by that can cause these failures ? That could be why only some persons are having failures ?
Correction - Most people have issues. SEPTA caused the problem by pushing this POS, with out tax dollars, yet the public never asked for a "replacement", we merely asked for another "option". SEPTA seems not to like options or choice unless it results in fewer of them, ticking off more people, and getting everyone "on board" with the Key, despite it's colossal failure. Read the print on your bills - "GOOD FOR ALL DEBTS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE"
  by Ivy Ridge Rider
 
I just experienced a similar frustration. My card is due to expire at the end of January, and my effort to replace it look to have just inactivated it. To be fair to the author of the e-mail, it does say that I should "not forget to purchase a new SEPTA Key Card and register it to your existing account." Perhaps conditioned by a multitude of other on-line customer service interfaces, I never imagined that clicking a link indicating my card is due to expire would "hotlist" my card as thought it were lost or stolen. Do I have pay a cash fare to reach a sales center? It looks like the card has disappeared from the website.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
I only noticed that outlying ticket offices on Regional Rail are somehow classified as retail outlets and
not as sales offices in the directory of fare sales locations. The DelDOT agents at Wilmington and Newark
are not on the list of retailers.

I do recall when retailers sold tokens and passes and have a directory (2008 edition) of retail fare sales locations.
  by ryan92084
 
The outlying stations do not have the capabilities of the full sales locations like transferring balances so i assume that is why.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Oh can I actually buy a Key card, clone it to anything else, and get a more reliable card?

Any why can't the accept NFC payments if they're going to just set themselves up for a class-action lawsuit?