Update: I previously wrote that the Card Replacement Offices were open from 12pm onwards. This is incorrect, they are open from 10am onwards.
Original: I’ve never realized how accustomed I am to using the money in my Ez-Link card to pay for transactions until earlier this evening. I was trying to settle an outstanding $0.60 library fine at the NLB Community Library in Pasir Ris Whitesands.
So as I walked up to the kiosk, I suddenly remembered: “Crap, I’m using Flashplay. Standard Ez-Link card readers can’t recognize NETS Flashplay.”
No problem then, I’ll just pay at the library counter using physical cash.
Librarian: Sir, please use the kiosk to pay your fines.
Me: But I only have cash.
Librarian: We can’t process your fines at the counter here… please use the kiosk, you can pay using your Ez-Link.
I didn’t want to waste my breath explaining to the librarian that my Ez-Link was a NETS Flashpay card, because it still wouldn’t change the fact that the library counter could not process my fines. And so I walked back to the kiosk to try my luck.
I waved my Flashpay at the Ez-Link reader. Zero. Ziltch. It couldn’t even detect the card.
I tried inserting the Flashpay into the NETS card slot… and lo and behold, the card was accepted!
My elation lasted for like three seconds. Immediately after that, the card slot spat out my Flashpay, accompanied by the following text on the monitor:
Card Could Not Be Read. Please Ensure That a Valid NETS Card is Inserted.
I gave up, and came up with the only feasible solution that I could think of: walk back to my girlfriend’s house, borrow her (“normal”) Ez-Link card, walk back to Whitesands, pay the fine, and walk back to her house again. All this to pay a freaking 60 cents library fine.
You’re probably thinking: then why use the Flashpay card at all? Well according to my mum (she purchased the Flashpay card and insisted that I use it, since I am the family member who travels the most), if you use the Flashpay to consume 100 train/bus rides, you will be entitled to some “rewards”.
These rewards include, but are not limited to: free train/bus rides in which the transport fare is waived. An incentive that would again, come back full circle to benefit me since I was travelling a lot each week.
After what happened at the library though, I’d rather take the convenience of possessing a normal Ez-Link card as opposed to obtaining some rewards.
First of all, topping-up a Flashpay card is a major pain in the ass. Since the card cannot be read by both standard Ez-Link and NETS card readers, I can only have it topped-up at places designated as “Card Replacement Offices”. This means that:
i) MRT control stations
ii) Ticket Machines
iii) ATM kiosks to transfer money from your bank account to your Ez-Link
… are all incompatible for the topping-up of Flashpay cards. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, because Card Replacement Offices are at every MRT station and Bus Interchange. Except that:
i) The offices are only open from 10am-6pm.
ii) The queues in front of the offices, especially at heavy-traffic stations such as Orchard MRT, are incredibly long.
For some reason, every single time I want to top-up my Flashpay at the CRO, the queue is always being held up by some foreign workers who are having their Ez-Link applications processed at the office. No offence to our foreign talent, but having to wait 10-15 minutes every time just to add 10 dollars to my Flashpay card is just plain ridiculous.
Also, this basically means that I am royally screwed if I discover that my card has insufficient value and I need to travel someplace else before 10am or after 6pm.
There are automated NETS Flashpay top-up machines. But so far, I’ve only seen one machine at Raffles Place MRT. The Flashpay machines do not exist at Serangoon, Bishan, Tiong Bahru, or Pasir Ris, the four places that I frequently travel to the most.
Has anyone managed to consume 100 rides on their Flashpay and claimed their reward? Are they even worth it? Please highlight the locations of all Flashpay top-up machines that you have seen.
Until then, I’m reverting back to my old, normal Ez-Link. Because last week, I discovered that the card readers at the PSB Academy library (yup, you guessed it) cannot detect Flashpay cards.
Screw you, Flashpay.