MRT accused of 'unfair fee' over new card issue

MRT accused of 'unfair fee' over new card issue

A consumer watchdog yesterday urged the Office of the Consumer Protection Board (CPB) to look into complaints over an allegedly unfair fee for a new card replacement charged by the MRT subway operator.

The Independent Organisation for Consumer Protection had received a complaint from an MRT passenger who was charged 50 baht for causing damage to his top-up MRT card and another 50 baht for the deposit value stored in his new card, said Patiwat Chaleomchat, a member of the IOCP's committee.

The passenger insisted his old card was in a normal state and functioned well with the MRT pass reader, despite a one-centimetre long rupture on the card's plastic coating, Mr Patiwat said.

The passenger requested a new card simply because the MRT had asked passengers to change to a new type of card that is equipped with a microchip, Mr Patiwat said.

"And it's the Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM) that advertised that its passengers won't be charged for the replacement of their cards, he said.

Saree Aongsomwang, the Foundation for Consumers secretary-general, said more of the estimated 7 million MRT passengers probably had encountered the same problem but chose not to speak out.

She called on the CPB and the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand to look into the matter, saying it was unfair that the BEM shifts the burden to consumers of replacing current MRT cards.

The BEM should do as it advertised and not charge passengers for card replacements and it should stop charging passengers for what it claims to be damage caused to the card if the card still functions normally with the reader at the MRT stations, she said.

Ms Saree also expressed concern over a similar move by banks asking customers to replace their ATM cards with a new version that contains a microchip.

Banks are charging customers between 100 baht and 300 baht for card replacements, she said.

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