Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Hidden Charges of Beep Card Reloading

Loaded P100, only got 97. Automatic 3% charge!

After 3 years in existence, the Beep card has been sold 5 million times, logs in 1 billion transactions. Consider me triggered. Reading this piece of news made me remember a bad commuting experience recently. Not entirely horrible, but made me more aware that transportation is not a public service in this country. 

I needed to go to Bonifacio Global City (BGC) a week or so ago. Took the train to Ayala Station and  then went to where the shuttle buses to BGC were. BGC is alien land to me. The last time I was here I needed to check which route passed by my destination. After consulting the maps, I remembered that I had to top up by Beep card after several trips to QC the week before. 

Now usually I reload my Beep card at the ticket vending machines in the LRT/MRT stations. I also choose which stations to reload in—obviously, the less crowded the better. It’s a relatively hassle free experience:  place card on scanner to find out your remaining load, put in Php50 or 100 as I don’t commute as often or as far as before, then check the balance and you’re good to go. 

In my experience, the Beep card is a better choice than the old thin magnetic cards. Load up Php100, but don’t use it all up within 3 months? Expired. Sayang load. 

Avoid long lines, pay the premium. Capitalism gives you choices!

So when I was at the BGC shuttle terminal, I saw this machine near the entrance to top up. I assumed it was similar to the reloading machines in the train stations. Well, nope.  Now it turns out that this particular machine charges you for using the service. I put in Php100 and the screen said that there would be a 3 peso charge. It was too late to back up since the transaction was already done. 

It was then that I noticed there was a counter where more people were lining up to top up their cards, similar to LRT/MRT stations. I’m guessing that way you don’t get charged. 

I know some people would just shrug and say, “Eh, it’s just 3 pesos. Don’t be a cheapskate.” I don’t use retail or “tingi” mobile reloading after I noticed that the amount I topped up would frequently be used up faster than my regular use. For the same reason I find it absurd that a reloading machine would charge you basically 3% just because. I understand now that this machine might be an outsourced company. I haven’t tried loading up my card at a 7-11 or anything so for all I know, that one also has a charge. 

But really, the commuting public is already paying for really bad service. Then you charge them more just for using it. At least now, I know. And my katangahan or just sheer lack of knowledge cost me 3% of commuting money. 

More on ignorance tax: the BGC shuttle does not announce stops or destinations. I really missed that “Ang susunod na istasyon ay V. Mapa.” Also those maps that show you the stations/stops. That way you don’t get lost. Lesson learned. Look around. Don’t be lazy. Take the 10 steps or less to the counter and top up your Beep card there with no hidden charges. 


Anything under the sun said...

You can use the app to as there is an option to view and top up Beep Card using your mobile phone. Just turn on the NFC of your mobile phone. Its actually convenient and there is no fee to load a beep card.

Sera Que said...

That will entail yet another app or platform. But seems interesting. I just haven't found the time to explore it yet. Thanks for the suggestion though.