Remember the yesteryears when you buy something online (read as buy something over the telephone line) and the telemarketer will accept such order then processes it manually in the background? Well, that’s the same kind of service you will get with Skyway O&M Corporation’s (SOMCO) E-Pass.
The E-Pass tag kit now is cheaper as compared years ago – PHP2,100 that includes PHP400 worth of load (plus PHP40 if you’re to purchase it using a credit/debit card at Shell Magallanes – paging DTI!). Now, the tricky part of which is loading the E-Pass tag which leaves you with three (03) options: (1) Drive thru any of the E-Pass offices; (2) Buy the prepaid load at selected establishments (like Shell Magallanes); or (3) Enroll your credit (or debit) card for automatic or manual replenishment. All of the three (03) options have the same denominator: HASSLE.
OPTION 1: Drive to the nearest E-Pass Office
Your E-Pass can be loaded at Skyway O&M Offices located at Better Living Subdivision (at the back of SM City Bicutan), Nichols, C5, and Silangan exits. This may not be much of a hassle, if and only if you pass by near their offices. Imagine how much time and gas will you be consuming just to have your E-Pass reloaded at their offices.
OPTION 2: Buy the Prepaid E-Pass Load
I thought that when I buy a Prepaid E-Pass Load, I will be given a card similar to those used by telcos. I was wrong: instead, I was given a piece of thermal paper that contains the PIN of the PHP500 worth of load I bought at Shell Magallanes. If you accidentally misplaced or damages the thermal paper, there goes your PHP500!
Now, to load the amount to your E-Pass tag, you will have to call 776.7575 – this is where hell will test your patience. In my attempt over the weekend, I spent countless minutes trying to get connected with their “automated” system for E-Pass tag reloading. I was successful last Monday, though (I started calling them last Saturday) after calling their lousy Customer Service at 776.7676 – bottom line: my E-Pass account, even if it was activated already, was NOT enrolled for replenishment.
Total time wasted calling 776.7676: 45 minutes.
OPTION 3: Automatic or Manual Replenishment using a Credit/Debit Card
If you’re the tech-savvy or adventurous type, then you may opt to simply fill-up the E-Pass Credit Card Authorization form to enroll your credit/debit card to replenish your tag. For automatic replenishment, once the E-Pass tag’s account balance goes down to PHP350, it will be reloaded with the amount specified when you forwarded the Credit Card Authorization form to them (minimum amount is PHP500).
If you opted to have manual replenishment (just like what I did), you will have to call 776.7575 to initiate the debit process. The caveat: the debit/charging process is subject to “manual” approval and is usually done by 1700H (close of business hours?) the day you requested for such transaction. The minimum chargeable amount is also at PHP500.
Aside from their Customer Service Hotline 776.7676 to be inutile, the only way for one to check the remaining balance of his/her E-Pass tag is to call that very same number! Otherwise, you will have to wait for the monthly statement emailed to you by Skyway O&M. I know that Skyway O&M is a big company, but can’t they just allot a portion of their income to invest for a real automated system for E-Pass replenishment? Can’t they just increase the number of people manning their Customer Service Hotline to make the queue considerably shorter? Why not invest on an SMS-type of support system so that E-Pass account balance will be as easy as an SMS away?