Digital Travel, Day 2

Yesterday I ranted a bit on how annoying it is giving both your cellphone and your ID-card when they check your tickets on a train. Well, I should’ve waited a day writing that one, cause today kinda tops yesterday on the ID-card side of things.

Everything started quite normal. I was asked to show my ticket, showed my iPhone with the message front and centre, and was subsequently asked for my ID. The guy entered it in his computer, checked some numbers and codes, and when everything checked out (why wouldn’t it, I showed him the original sms), he tried handing me back my ID-card. Apparently it was stuck in the reader, and he started fiddling around with the card. After a few moments of pulling, twisting and pushing the card, the guy decided a short and powerful jerk would definitely solve the issue. He solved it all right. The card ejected with a cracking noise, and he handed me back the ID-card with a 1 cm crack and a loose chip. In other words, the guy just broke my ID-card. He handed me back the card with a shrug, and started moving down the aisle. I called him back, and asked how he was going to solve the issue. I asked for his name, so I could try to reimburse the costs of a new card from their Customer Support service. Accidents happen, so I figured he would be glad to help me out.

His reaction: “The card was broken in the first place, and no I’m not going to give out my name, I’m an official employee from NMBS, and as such I work for the company and shouldn’t give out any personal information. Cheers”. So basically, I gave him my ID, showed my name to a stranger working for the railway company, but when that guy breaks something, he won’t give me his name? And more over, we all heard the card snapping, so why imply it was broken in the first place? I again asked him how we were going to solve this issue. His reaction: “Such things happen. Get over it” I stayed calm, asked him whither I could take a picture of him, since he wouldn’t give up his name, and wrote down the train number, names of the people sitting around me (who were all very supportive), and started looking up the Customer Support procedures of the NMBS.

A new passport costs 20€, 120€ when you need it in less than three weeks. Since I’m leaving for London in two weeks, I need a passport fast. So I hope NMBS is going to reimburse the 120€, or the 20€. But even so I want to now: Who decided it is okay for train employees to take our ID-card, check our name and who knows what in their system, and at the same time let these people stay anonymous?

Maybe I should go back to buying paper tickets.