‘ware the chipkaart

by Maren Hunt

The Netherlands uses a card with an embedded chip for people to pay for travel on public transit. People load money onto the card and tap it on a card reader to pay for trips on trams, trains, subways, etc. It’s all very practical and efficient – except when it’s not. During the trip to Hilversum, the card reader didn’t register when I tapped my card at Centraal Station to leave Amsterdam. If you tap the card at one station without a corresponding destination, you’re charged the maximum fare for the type of trip you’re making. For trains, the maximum fare is €20. I didn’t realize my card hadn’t registered in Centraal, so I tapped my card at the reader in Hilversum. When I left Hilversum several hours later, I tapped the card at Hilversum and then again at Centraal when I got there. I thought everything had worked out correctly until I took a tram last night. When I got off, my balance read €2. I had been charged €40 for a roundtrip that should have been about €10. So I spend the afternoon at Centraal talking to a super nice (and attractive – I think they’re all supermodels here) guy at the service desk. He explained to me that unfortunately, he could not refund any money directly to my chip card; refunds can only be deposited into Dutch bank accounts. I, alas, don’t have a Dutch bank account, so I begrudgingly added €30 to my card balance so I can keep using it for travel. There are several morals to this story, but the one I’ll keep closest to my heart for now is: Make sure you hear a beep when you tap your card.

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About netherlanders2010

We are 21 students, one teacher, and a few info-groupies on a study abroad program in the Netherlands from August 22-September 17 2010. We will be working with faculty and researchers from the Virtual Knowledge Studio, the Erasmus Studio, and the Continuous Access to Cultural Heritage (CATCH) in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Hilversum, to study the ways in which research informs design in information systems and practice in the Netherlands. Plus, we'll spend a lot of time wandering around, going to libraries, museums, and the Oude Sluis, and doing whatever strikes our individual and collective fancies. Alstublieft!
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