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Company Behind New CTA Transit-Debit Card Has Lowest Consumer Rating

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A Ventra machine at a CTA station. (CBS)

A Ventra machine at a CTA station. (CBS)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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(CBS) — You may have already seen vending machines that say “Ventra” at CTA train stations that offer commuters a new way to pay their fare.

But CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports one of the companies behind the new card gets an F rating from the Better Business Bureau.

The new Ventra card can be used as a transit pass and a prepaid debit card at retailers that include Walgreens, CVS and Jewel. To use Ventra in a store, you have to activate that option on your card.

It will be offered by Money Network, which is owned by First Data. Money Network currently has an F rating with the BBB.

The BBB’s president and CEO, Steve Bernas, says Money Network received that lowest rating based on nearly 100 complaints in the last three years. One of the complaints said: “Money Network denied my dispute of obvious fraudulent charges to my debit card.”

“Whether or not they do business with the company is up to them,” Bernas says of consumers. “We just provide them with the data – what other consumers have told us over the last three years.”

CTA Revenue Director Eric Reese seemed surprised at the complaints.

“At this time, I have not actually looked into this, but I will continue to look into our relationship with First Data,” he said.

The relationship could mean big bucks for the CTA and the suburban PACE bus network. Every time riders use the Ventra card to shop, the transit companies get paid.

“We have commercially negotiated agreements that are helpful to the CTA but is not a future significant revenue source,” Reese said.

The CTA expects to save $5 million annually on the operations side as people move from temporary transit cards, he says.

Commuters were not pleased to hear the CTA is partnering with a company that has logged so many consumer complaints.

“What it says to me is that you have no type of respect for us that you have no concern for us,” Kattria Clark said.

A spokeswoman for First Data, the company that owns Money Network, said the company has been registered with the Better Business Bureau since 2007 and didn’t get a complaint until 2010.

“More than 7 million individual prepaid accounts have been opened,” she said. “During that time only 95 complaints have been filed and we will work to resolve any outstanding complaints.”

Commuters will be able to get the prepaid card this summer. You do not have to use this transit card as a debit card, which is an option.

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