Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Old is better

Singapore is a place with a reputation for efficiency. So naturally, I took my complaint about the new ez-Link card to the person sitting in the MRT Control Station. I explained the problem and asked, rather rhetorically, if I could have back my old card. He just reached over his desk, retrieve a piece of paper and handed it to me. He said that I should contact the 1800 number on the paper and explain my card problem. That's very efficient indeed, paring away a complaint in less than it take to say, "I have a problem". You also begin to wonder why the Control Station has such a ready stock of these pre-printed slips of paper with instructions to call a 1800 number.

On second thoughts, these people were in charge of ensuring that the trains are running ok, and handle issues related to the train station. Don't ask a cat to produce milk. Hey! you got the wrong guy, right? I took the paper but lo and behold, the listed number to call was for lost or stolen cards. Now, my card is neither stolen nor lost... I gave up with officialese. I had to solve the problem myself. So much for Singapore's reputation for efficiency, and we are thinking big about growing our service economy...

I surmised that the reader might not be able to read my new ez-Link card because it was buried in all my other cards in the wallet. I re-arranged my cards so that the ez-Link card was on its own and nearest the outer back of the wallet. This way, it would be the first card that comes into contact with the signals of the reader. And it worked!

But I have a new irritant. The readers on buses take a longer time to read my card compared to the old one! Previously, it was really 'touch and go'. Now, with this new card, it was 'touch wait hear look hear and then go', taking me at least a second more than I previously took to get out of the bus. Now, you may think that 1 second isn't a long time, so what am I complaining about? But when you consider that when everyone else has to do the same, you are looking at a lot longer to process the queue out of and into the bus. That's not progress.

This new-fangled ez-link card? Well, the LTA can have it back and eat it for breakfast, for all I care. I want my old card back.