Stop giving consumers the run around!

CAPTION: Foneology director James Trusler, left, demonstrates the use of the new E-Ticketing console box while LTA media officer Alfred Wiliame, KBL executive chairman Nisar Ali Shah and Vodafone head of corporate affairs and manager M-PAiSA Shailendra Prasad look on. Photo: SHALENDRA PRASAD.

The Council is extremely disappointed with the manner in which consumers are treated by bus drivers for errors in the e-ticketing system.

The Council is astounded to learn the incident where a consumer ended up paying $5 for a $0.70 trip. This is only unreasonable and unfair to the consumer.

Both the Land Transport Authority and Vodafone are blaming the bus drivers for not handling the e-ticketing machines appropriately. But whose responsibility is it to train the drivers on how to use these machines appropriately without errors in the first place?

According to LTA, drivers are in the second phase of training conducted by the Authority after the initial training given by Foneology. This training is expected to finish within a month for all regions. Why weren?t all sets of training carried out before implementing the system? This would have undoubtedly avoided the problems currently faced by the consumers. The current trial and error system is carried out at the expense of consumers, which is not acceptable.

And again the consumers are given the run-around to get what rightfully belongs to them, which is also done at the consumers? expense.

In a complaint lodged with the Council, a consumer ended up paying double fare for a single trip from Sawani to Suva. The consumer used her smartcard to pay $1.90 but also had to pay $1.90 in cash when her card was declined by the machine. Upon the Council?s enquiry, Vodafone revealed that the e-ticketing machine did deduct the fare and that there was no need to pay the cash again. The passenger, in this case, was asked to tap the smartcard twice successively on the console machine. The consumer initially had $2.30 in her card, however, after the two successive swipes, there were insufficient funds in her card.

The bus operators must take full responsibility for the actions of the drivers and drivers should provide immediate refund if the ticketing machines register incorrect fares. They should not make it difficult for consumers to obtain refunds in a timely manner for their laxity.

The Council would like to urge LTA to put out clear instructions with regards to refunds when the e-ticketing machines do not work or results in an error. This is in light of the fact that the e-ticketing system will become compulsory on 1st April 2013. Consumers are also alerted to request for receipts for the fares they pay as evidence of their travel.

 

PREMILA KUMAR

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, CONSUMER COUNCIL OF FIJI