1.0 Purpose:

This administrative policy and procedure outlines North County Transit District's (NCTD) customer refund process, including the parameters for approving or denying a refund request for passenger tickets or passes.

2.0 Scope:

This administrative policy and procedure applies to all NCTD staff members tasked with and/or responsible for receiving, filing, approving and/or denying specific customer refund requests for transit tickets or passes. NCTD subscribes to a general 'No Refund' policy for all tickets or passes purchased by customers; however, we recognize that due to various extenuating circumstances, exceptions to that policy may be appropriate. This policy is referenced in NCTD Rider's Guide, on all NCTD Ticket Vending Machines (TVM), and on the front page of NCTD's online/mobile ticketing sites. Exceptions, as noted above, can be authorized pursuant to this procedure.

3.0 Definitions:

3.1 Humminqbird: Regional software in which Ticket Vending Machine, Compass Card use, farebox, and vault reports can be reviewed.

3.2 Nextfare: Electronic fare collection system that includes fare boxes, ticket machines, coin and currency vaults, magnetic card processors, smart card readers, ticket processors, smart cards and magnetic encoded cards containing programming for use with the electronic fare collection system. Nextfare is a trademark of Cubic Corporation.

3.3 Rider Reports: NCTD's Customer Service Feedback database. A 'Rider Report' can be a complaint, compliment, or comment.

3.4 Rider's Guide: Guide book for public transit in North County. The guide is published by NCTD on paper and is also available on the website. It contains information such as NCTD services, BREEZE routes, COASTER and SPRINTER schedules, fare and passes information, and rules of riding.

4.0 Responsibility:

4.1 The Manager of Customer Service will serve as the lead for managing the refund process, including initial approval of refund requests.

4.2  The Manager of Customer Service will task Customer Service Assistants (CSAs) with receiving and cataloging all customer refund requests.

4.3 The Fare Revenue Specialist ensures that all documentation supporting the refund has been submitted by the CSAs. If documentation is not clear or incomplete, the Fare Revenue Specialist will contact the CSAs to resubmit the refund request with the proper documentation.

4.4 The Controller - Operations and Fare Revenue will provide final authorization of customer refunds and issue refunds if necessary. Refunds may be authorized in the form of check, credit to the credit card that was used for payment, stored value, or cash to be collected at one of NCTD's transit centers.

4.5 Chief Financial Officer (CFO): The CFO may designate other Finance staff to authorize customer refunds in the absence of the Controller - Operations and Fare Revenue.

4.6 In limited circumstances, the Chief Administrative Officer or the Executive Director may authorize customer refunds, as needed to resolve customer service issues.

5.0 Policy/Reference:

     5.1 NCTD Board Policy No. 15 - Records Retention Policy and Schedule

    5.2 NCTD Board Policy No. 20 - Complimentary Transit Passes

    5.3 NCTD Administrative Policy - FIN 5013 -AP Standard Check Request

6.0   Procedure:

6.1 Administrative: When contacted by a customer requesting a refund, CSAs will inform the customer of NCTD's 'No Refund' policy. Should the customer request an exception to the policy, the CSA will complete the DMS Forms Module workflow (Laserfiche) for Refund Requests. If the request is made in person at a Transit Center office, the customer will fill out a Refund Request Form, including a signature.

6.1.1 CSAs will collect any relevant fare product (paper ticket or Compass Card) and attach it to the Refund Request Form. Should the request arrive via phone or email, the CSA will request that the customer submit the relevant fare media to Customer Service, either via mail, in person, or scanned into an email for individual paper or mobile/online tickets. If the request involves an adjustment to an existing, registered Compass Card, the CSA will document the Compass Card serial number associated with the appropriate registration.

6.1.2 The CSA will submit all relevant refund information into Laserfiche. This should include any research done for machine malfunctions or evidence of a service disruption.

6.3 Review and Approval: The Manager of Customer Service will review a refund request per the DMS Forms Module workflow and make a determination of approval under the following guidelines:

6.3.1 A request will be approved if evidence shows that a Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) malfunctioned. This can be viewed either through TVM specific reports produced by Hummingbird or if the TVM issues a Refund Receipt instructing the customer to return to the Customer Service Department. Hummingbird reports are only viewable beginning on the day after the transaction occurred. CSAs may issue a refund for a Refund Receipt without prior approval, provided that the amount of the refund is equal to or less than $20.00.

6.3.2 A request will be approved if it is determined that a significant delay or cancellation in service has occurred and no other service options are immediately available. Approvals in these instances are at the discretion of the Manager of Customer Service or Chief Administrative Officer.

6.3.3 A request will be approved for activated tickets on Compass Cloud if it is determined that a significant delay or cancellation in service has occurred (including planned rail closures due to construction) and no other service options are immediately available, and the ticket(s) has been activated on the customer's device. These refunds will be processed through NCTD's Accounts Payable process and not through the Compass Cloud back office managed by the San Diego Metropolitan System (MTS).

6.3.4 Refunds for Stored Value (Compass Cash) may be considered with extenuating circumstances. Cash balances of Stored Value can be replaced only on registered Compass Cards following a 24-hour waiting period to determine proper balance. Stored value on a card that was loaded prior to 6/28/2017 will not be refunded.

6.3.5 A request will be approved given certain extenuating circumstances and in cases that demonstrate a positive approach to customer service. These instances include but are not limited to: construction related issues, first time customers unfamiliar with the system, a major service change or facility change, service anomalies.

6.3.6 Approved refunds equaling $20.00 or less will be issued with petty cash via the Customer Service Department. Refunds greater than $20.00 will be processed through Laserfiche and approval will be determined by the Finance Department. Refunds may take up to 30 days to process from the time they are submitted by the CSAs. Checks will only be mailed to the customer's address indicated on the refund request. Refund by credit card will be done by crediting the original card used for payment. Refunds by stored value require the customer to visit one of NCTD's transit centers.

6.3.7 CSA's submit request for approval of refund requests not paid from petty cash in the Laserfiche workflow. The normal routing for refund requests are to route through the Manager of Customer Service (or designee), then to the Fare Revenue Specialist for review and coding, and then to the Controller-Operations and Fare Revenue (or designee) for final approval. Once all approvals have been obtained, the form routes to accounts payable for payment. Fully approved refund requests Laserfiche forms will be retained by the Finance Department.

6.4 Review and Denial: The Manager of Customer Service will review the request and make a determination of denial under the following guidelines:

6.4. I A request will be denied if the customer mistakenly purchases fare product or fails to review bus or rail schedules. However, the Manager of Customer Service may approve a refund if extenuating circumstances exist where providing a refund is in the best interest of customer service (see 6.2.5).

6.4.2 A request will be denied if Hummingbird or other relevant evidence cannot corroborate the information submitted on the Refund Request Form.

6.4.3 A request will be denied if the customer is unable to produce the relevant fare media associated with their request.

6.44 A request for a Compass Cloud refund will be denied by both MTS and NCTD in all cases if the ticket or pass in question has not been activated. These tickets and passes have an expiration life of one year if not activated.

6.4.5 A request for a Stored Value (Compass Cash) refund will not be issued should the customer fail to tap off at a COASTER validator, if the customer fails to alert a coach operator should they need a Day Pass, or for unused balances.

Refunds for Stored Value may be considered with extenuating circumstances.

6.4.6 A request will be denied if the original purchase was made from an MTS Trolley TVM, an MTS bus farebox, the MTS Transit Store, or a convenience store (such as Albertsons). The customer will be directed to MTS for further action.

6.5 Complimentary Transit Passes: Pursuant to Board Policy No. 20, the Manager of Customer Service may issue a Complimentary Transit Pass for use on COASTER or SPRINTER/BREEZE services under the following circumstances:

  • If, through no fault of the customer, he/she experiences a service disruption in his/her trip.
  • The customer has filed a Rider Report, or the customer has stated his/her intention to file a Rider Report.
  • In an event of possible void/refund transaction, the customer would accept a complimentary pass rather than a cash refund.
  • Other possible customer satisfaction events that occur, as determined on a case-by-case basis at the direction of the Manager of Customer Service or designee.

Following approval, before issuing any Complimentary Transit Pass, the CSA will fill out the Complimentary Pass Request Form and log the information onto the Complimentary Pass Tracking Sheet located in the Customer Service portion of the DMS (Laserfiche):

    1. Records:
    2. All approved refund request with payment information will be maintained in the Laserfiche Records in accordance with NCTD Board Policy No. 15, Records Retention Policy and Schedule.
    3. The Manager of Administration shall retain copies of all original approved and superseded administrative policies and procedures in compliance with NCTD Administrative Policy and Procedure GM-0000, Policy and Procedure Development and Management.
    1. Appendices:
    2. NCTD Refund Request Form
    3. NCTD Complimentary Pass Request Form

9.0 Training Requirements:

The Manager of Customer Service will ensure that all Customer Service staff is trained on refund policy and procedures. The Controller-Operations and Fare Revenue will ensure that all Finance staff is trained on refund policy and procedures.