Evidently, Citibike Key Fobs Can Break

My dad taught me a long time ago that solid state devices, those without moving parts, almost never go bad. If it doesn’t wear, it won’t tear. There are some exceptions of course, and today, I learned that Citibike key fobs can in fact go bad. Mine was completely dead.

Usually when you insert a key fob, you get a reassuring (or completely confusing) set of lights. Today, at the station at West 3rd and LaGuardia Place, I got nothing. Maybe the station is down, I thought.

I walked to a nearby station at Bleecker and Mercer Streets. As I approached, I saw a guy trying to check out a bike. Telling him about my difficulty, I asked him if he could get one. He, in fact, could. But then when I tried my key fob, there was no response. Time to call Citibike support.

Thankfully, there are a lot of stations in downtown Manhattan.

Thankfully, there are a lot of stations in downtown Manhattan.

The agent reviewed my account and closed out some open trips. This seemed routine to her, but I was a bit alarmed that I had "open trips." Don’t they charge you $1,200 for a lost bike? By this time, I had started walking toward my destination and was approaching my third Citibike station of the evening at Lafayette and Houston Streets. The agent asked if I could use my key here. No dice!

With my key fob apparently bricked, she ordered a new one for me. It’ll arrive in two-to-five business days. Thinking that we were done, she then asked me if I wanted to get a 7-day pass. What?!? I get a loaner?

The only catch was that the touch screen at the station was down. On to a fourth station at Mott and Prince.

To get a temporary seven-day membership, I basically had to get one like any non-member: provide a credit card, phone number, and consent to a $100 deposit against my card. As I agreed to all the terms and conditions, the agent gave me a coupon code. That code discounted the $25 fee for a seven-day pass. After getting a five-digit code to unlock a bike, I grabbed one and headed to the Rivington and Suffolk.

By the time I started pedaling, I had covered half the trip on foot.

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