I learned the hard way the bait and switch tactics used by MetroNorth to ensure that every dime of your weekly and monthly tickets that are turned in for refunds should you be unable to use the remaining time on the ticket is theirs.
Here's how it works, The fares are loosely set by the State. MetroNorth then gets to set the rules of the game.
Rule #1.) The official week of a weekly ticket begins on Saturday. It does not begin on the day you buy it and last for seven days.
If you are a weekly commuter who works Monday through Friday and you buy your ticket on Monday, you have paid for the Saturday and Sunday before you purchased your ticket and not the Saturday and Sunday of the week in front of you.
For MetroNorth this is free money in many ways.
Rule #2.) Tickets are not prorated. Should you buy a monthly ticket for say $100 and turn it in on the 15th of the month for refund, you will not get $40 back ($50.00 - a $10.00 "service" fee). What actually happens is this.
The monthly ticket is recalculated to its smallest more expensive components. Let's say that $100 monthly ticket consists of two weekly tickets and a one day ticket. The weekly ticket is $35 and a daily ticket is $10.
In this most optimistic case, we have 2 x $35 = $70 plus a $10 daily which comes out to $80.00. MetroNorth then subtracts the $80 from $100 and you get a refund of $20. Keep in mind this is a best case. The calculation might be a one week ticket and 8 daily tickets in which case you get nothing back. Turn it in after 15 days and you are royally hosed no matter what.
I won't lecture you about fairness or about how consumer protection is wholly absent from all of this. The system is corrupt and the consumer is routinely battered by these duplicitous agencies and their political cronies.
Here's some suggestions that will re-empower all of us to control this out-of-control and ethically-diseased situation.
First, reselling your ticket to someone at the office you work at (and using our example above) for $30 saves them money, gives you a bit more than you'd optimistically ever hope to get back, and makes two people feel better about the world.
Second, you could donate your ticket to someone who would normally pay for a similar ride at the station. You feel good, no paperwork, and you are exercising an act of goodwill that the world sorely needs.
Same deal is you donate the rides to a charity organization who can let job seekers use the ticket offsetting their expenses.
A final note: I called the MetroNorth Concerns/Complaint line about this and I asked a thought exercise. I said to the woman that if its okay for MetroNorth to recalculate the price structure of the ticket in their favor what would be wrong with the refundee asking that the reamining fifteen days be refunded at a daily rate, say $10 x 15 days?
"Why then you'd get back more than you paid! THAT will NEVER HAPPEN", she exclaimed. I reminded her that MetroNorth was getting back more than they provided. <crickets>