This is a combination news story and tale of woe dealing with the new reality, after Corona!
In the morning as part of my job as a journalist and blogger looking out for you, I got an email from my friend Sam, informing us that the transportation and finance ministers had taken pity on us and were giving us a refund of bus and train services not able to be used.
To explain most people that use the bus and train regularly buy a monthly pass which gives you unlimited rides for the month of the pass. Israel shut down in March and April and most people couldn’t go to work and the busses shut down as well.
In most cases it would be tough luck, you paid for a pass and it was used up. In Israel the transportation and finance ministers decided to have mercy on us and give us a partial refund since we couldn’t use the service.
Travelers who purchased their monthly pass (called a “hofcee” or free ride–nothing is free you paid for it-but it called a free monthly), can get their refund in three different ways. Purchasing your June pass for a 50% discount, a two week free monthly (which doesn’t make much sense for most people as you buy the pass at the beginning of the month and they don’t see a two-week pass) or getting a credit on their accrued value which stays on your card and you can use for intercity rides or other cities.
Now comes the story, how do you get it. The logical place would be the city office at the Klall building (at the Divika train station). So I started my journey there. It used to be easy to get in and out of the office, but that was pre-Korona. Now to get in I had to have my temperature taken twice and talk my way through the locked door. They use to have numbers you would sit down and wait for your turn, but now they didn’t want to let anybody into the office. I was fortunate and got in. I went to the clerk, showed him the news story and after three discussions with the office and his boss, he decided there was such a thing as the discount. However, he said he couldn’t give it to me. Well then, how do I get, I inquired. You have to get it from the automated machine, was the reply. Not from the regular automated machines at the train stations. Pray then, I asked, where is the machine. I don’t know was the reply. Well maybe you can find out, I asked meekly. With a little prodigy, he discovered a machine at 21 Ben Yehuda Street. But, he replied you have to put your credit card in before your “Rav card”. That made little sense as to how would they know who you are from your credit card as it often not in the same name as the card, but hopefully I went in search of the machine.
Well low and behold!! No machine at 21 Ben Yehuda and no one of course knew where there was one. I racked my brain. I remembered I had seen the machines but where. Where they at the city hall train station? Back on the train again and I was right. They were at both the Ben Yehuda and City hall stops.
But of course, they didn’t work for the refund only to buy the ticket. So back to the Davika train station office, but my luck had run out. There were 15 people in line and they weren’t letting anyone in. The wait would have been an hour.
Going home, I read on the internet that maybe if I downloaded the app on my phone, maybe that would work so I tried it. Vola, the app confirmed that I was entitled to the refund, but I couldn’t load on it my card, because you have to have a reader to swipe your card. Never fear said the app, there were several ATM’s nearby that would work to get me my credit.
I live near four major closed hotels, still closed because there are no tourists and hence no need for hotels in Israel. The app told me where the machines were, and amazingly they were all near me, at the CLOSED HOTELS, so of course, the machines were closed as well.
The app sends me to the First Station mall, which claimed to have a machine. After going there and finding the ATM (not easy it is unmarked), I still wasn’t able to get my credit.
I haven’t given up yet, I have until June 1, to buy my new pass. Paying and getting and trusting to get a refund takes more faith than I have in the Government (my faith in G-d is ok, but dealing with and trusting the government to get a refund is over my faith level).
So don’t buy your pass for June yet. Maybe some of you will be more successful than me and let me know what works. If not I will be following up on May 31 (Sunday) after Shavuot and Shabbat. Let’s hope for the best!
Here is some inspiration to help you get the discount–A Needle in a Haystack
Dave Shiffman was playing basketball in his driveway with some of his friends after school when suddenly he lost his contact lens. After a fruitless search, he went inside and told his mother the lens was nowhere to be found.
Undaunted, she went outside, and in a few minutes, she returned with the lens in her hand.
“How did you manage to find it, Mom?” Dave asked.
“We weren’t looking for the same thing,” Mrs. Shiffman replied. “You were looking for a small piece of plastic. I was looking for $150.”