Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gentleman Thief

So my wife loses her bus pass. She used it on the way to a party at a friend's house, but someone at the party gave us a ride home and we didn't notice it was missing for several days.  It's not the pass she uses for work (as her company pays for that one) and since her leg was until recently broken we haven't been riding the bus as much. Basically, it was an extra pass we hardly ever use.

Still, there's like 20 bucks on the pass, so it's worth a call or two. We phone the hosts of the party, and the person who gave us a ride home, just in case anyone found it. No luck. Probably we dropped it on the bus, then. Not a big deal, we mentally "write off" the 20 bucks.

A couple weeks later it comes up in conversation again, and that's when we realize that we might actually have had that pass set to auto-load from a credit card we don't really use any more. Oh, crap! If someone found it or stole it, they could potentially have used the bus every day for almost a month, and we'd have been paying for it. We could easily be hit with a $150 surprise bill, which could already be over-due since I ignored the only piece of mail that credit card company sent last month. What can I say? It looked like junk mail.

Checking the bus pass program's website, we quickly find out that the bus pass we lost: 
  1.  is indeed set for automatically charge our old credit card whenever the e-purse hits zero
  2. shows bus-riding history/activity as recently as a couple hours before we logged in to report it lost.
So we report the card as lost/stolen, which freezes whatever money remains in the e-purse. Whatever they've actually used is gone, and anything that auto-paid is gone too, but at least they can't get any more of our money.

With that out of the way, we poke through the activity log for the last month. The pass has been used a couple times a week for the month it was lost... but never hit zero dollars, and never triggered the auto-pay. It got very close to zero, but then whoever had the pass went to one of the Kiosks where you can deposit cash towards your e-purse, and made a big deposit. At the point where I cancelled it, over $30 of _their_ money remained on the pass. Oops.

Instead of some stranger "stealing" my money, effectively I helped the bus company "steal" $10 of that stranger's money. Or rather, they did steal $20 from us, but then we enabled the bus to steal $30 from them. What was the thing my mom used to say about two wrongs? I can tell myself they deserved it, for using our bus pass instead of turning it in... but chances are they didn't steal it per se. I mean I can't really picture a thief who pickpockets someone, and then deposit their own money into the card they stole. Most likely, the worst "crime" this person engaged in was "finders, keepers", for which they were fined $30 (plus the $5 to get a new pass, probably) and were possibly stranded at work with no bus fare home. Something about that just doesn't sit right with me.

1 comment:

Jacob Roth said...

I changed comment settings so any post over 14 days old requires moderation. Right now that means all but this one.

At least we are still regularly visited by Russian spammers trying to hit farm.

Den of thieves.