Monday, September 23, 2013


For all the stupid publicity, hoopla, and self congratulations, it turns out the new cell phone app has plenty of flaws. It also was a 'back door' fare increase by forcing riders to make $5 purchases.
In the end it turned out to have plenty of problems as I expected. As usual Trimet takes no responsibility. The article below offers a very close look at this new app.

Rules & Rhetoric - Thoughts on Trimet’s Imperfect Mobile Payment Experience
And how about that registration experience? It would have been nice if they’d considered social registration to make that process a little easier (shameless plug for my line of work) and offered options like making Amazon or Paypal as payment method or making it an in-App purchase. Sure, they’re sharing revenue at that point, but they’d also gain more customers through convenience.
As for me, I’m still hopeful that this app will reach it’s potential, but it’s been a bitter pill so far. Even if the judge is lenient, I’m likely to get my fine cut in half at best and I’m going to miss a half-day of work to boot. That’s a hell of a way to treat a loyal and engaged customer. It’s also one hell of an expensive commute.


Nonpartisantoo said...

Okay, I'm no fan of Try-Met. However, I try to be fair, so we've got to look at a couple of arguments that don't hold up.

What I agree with: the advertisements should have included a start date when the phone fare program started. The app shouldn't have rejected the entire registration just because the card information was declined for any reason.

Points of disagreement:
* I was able to download and install the app on 9/3. I purchased two 10-packs of Youth tickets on 9/3. I don't recall if I found the app in the App Store or I downloaded it from Try-Met's Web site, but I didn't find it difficult to locate.

* When using a new app, I try to look at it before the time I need it in order to make sure I don't run into any gotchas.

* People complain about the $5 minimum. And yet it's not uncommon to go into a store and see a "$xx minimum purchase for credit card." The cafe in my building where I work has a $3 minimum. It generally has to do with the behind-the-scenes transaction fees. If you're genuinely going one way on a one-time trip, you're probably not a regular Try-Met rider and not going to bother with the app. Otherwise you'll need the second ticket soon enough.

* Having unvalidated tickets on your phone is no different than having a book of tickets in your wallet. If a ticket isn't validated, it's not valid fare. How would a fare inspector respond if I pulled out my book of tickets and said "I forgot to validate it, here, I'll jump off and do it." Same response: I need to have valid fare before getting on the train. $175 ticket. Otherwise, you could wave your phone or book of tickets in front of said inspector and say "Well I've got it!" and never have to validate a ticket.

reggiewideman said...

Hey, thanks for the comments and the perspective. I appreciate the feedback. A couple of responses to your points:

- I'm glad you had a good experience downloading the Tri-Met Tickets app. I didn't. My post documents my experiences and I'm not implying that everyone else had the same issues. That being said, I know plenty of people who did.

- I'm glad your dilligent about prepping for new app use. That's smart. The average user doesn't do that. I believe it's incumbent upon the company that delivers the app to manage the new user experience as much as possible.

- Again, context is key. 5 dollar minimum's are not common on mobile devices where consumers are used to microtransactions as low as 99 cents. I would still argue that Tri-met should have worked harder to deliver an app that was in line with the minimum purchase price for a ride. I don't agree that users who are infrequent riders should be left out in the cold. An app like this should be financially accessible to all riders. Finally, the 5 dollar minimum transaction at retail argument doesn't work for Tri-Met because small retail shops are trying to turn a profit against a few hundred transactions per day when trimet is dealing with a daily user base of more than twenty thousand (as of a week ago).

- I stated very clearly that I was absolutely the rule breaker by not having activated my ticket when I got on the train. However by the time I had to show my ticket it was active. This is something that wouldn't even be possible with a paper ticket, so the comparison is useless. it's a new paradigm for mobile customers and Tri-met should have had a better plan for it.

Those are my thoughts. Thanks for sharing yours.