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A Former Ventra Call Center Employee Speaks

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 17, 2013 9:20PM

Photo credit: Deborah McCoy/Facebook

Ventra customers aren’t the only ones complaining about the much-maligned shared fare system. A letter to the editor in Monday’s Tribune from a former Ventra call center worker lifts the veil slightly on what’s happening behind the scenes.

Nickole McDaniels of Antioch, Calif. Says she was fired from her job as a Ventra call center employee Dec. 13 after the Tribune published a letter from Ventra customer Joe Marabotti Dec. 12 detailing his increasingly frustrating attempts to have a Ventra card sent to him.

Marabotti wrote he had been dealing for months with Ventra’s customer service reps trying to have the card he was originally supposed to receive in September sent to him. The last call center rep he spoke with, now revealed to be McDaniels, told Marabotti “I need to purchase another Ventra card at a CTA station and then call back to have the card linked to my account, spending more time on something that should rightfully be troubleshooted by Ventra, not the customer.”

McDaniels, in her letter to the Trib, reveals Ventra customers phone calls are being routed to a call center in San Francisco. That’s only the least of the problems.

Not only was I fired for giving out the correct information in that phone call on Dec. 12 (which was also my birthday), but I was also told that it wasn't what I said but my delivery. They said I was bringing bad press to Ventra.

McDaniels acknowledged she had been working for 11 straight days prior to the fateful phone call with Marabotti that led to her firing. But all of Ventra’s problems can’t result in the firing of a single customer service representative. As McDaniels wrote, “I am sure that Ventra customers are not the only ones being let down by this company. I suppose this is just big business.”

If firing an overworked call center customer service rep or two fits with CTA’s current narrative that Ventra is improving its performance metrics so the transit agency can establish a new timeline for transitioning to the card, so be it. But the disastrous rollout of the program and the bad publicity CTA and Cubic Transportation Systems has received since it launched in September indicates the public knows better.