Retrieving lost items from TransLink proves difficult for some
VANCOUVER -- TransLink, like many companies, has had to adjust operations to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, and that’s creating problems for some people trying to retrieve items they've lost on the transit system.
The transit provider’s lost property office is closed to the public and you can’t just go down to the office to retrieve your items anymore. Now, riders are required to go online to create a prepaid shipping label through Canada Post to email to TransLink in order to get their property shipped back to them.
That proved difficult for 70-year-old Adrienne Rose of New Westminster. On April 10 she lost her wallet, containing credit cards, cash and ID, including her driver’s license which she desperately needed. Twelve days later she got a card in the mail from TransLink stating it had recovered an item that belonged to her.
“My first thought is, it’s my wallet,” Rose told CTV News Vancouver.
Apparently, she’d left it on Coast Mountain bus and someone had turned it in.
The card instructed her to go down to the lost property office at 590 Beatty St. in downtown Vancouver and present the card in order to retrieve her item. However, when she got there she discovered it was closed and barricaded with a fence. But she did run into someone who she says appeared to be helping another rider.
“They’re giving a guy his bike back but they won’t give a senior her wallet,” Rose said.
TransLink’s website states that the lost property office is temporarily closed but it would give priority to returning critical items like medication, passports, keys and wallets.
Rose called the customer service number and received an email with a link to the Canada Post site to create a prepaid shipping label.
“I tried to do that. I tried for two-and-a-half days to get in there, multiple times," she says of the Canada Post registration process. "I couldn’t.”
So she emailed TransLink, suggesting that she could get a prepaid FedEx envelope and drop it off. A week passed and she says she never got a response. She also called the customer service line but says no one took ownership of her issue.
That’s when she contacted CTV News.
“I’m calling McLaughlin On My Side,” said Rose.
That was on Monday, April 4, and she was in a bit of a panic because the card she received in the mail stated: “The article will be held only until May 9, 2020.”
“My fear is that I won’t get my driver’s licence back. I’d like my wallet and I want it back,” she added.
We investigated to see what the problem could be by trying to print out a prepaid shipping label from the link she’d been sent by TransLink. The process was a bit finicky and a bit of a hassle.
First, you need to create an online account with Canada Post. We did that but then two attempts to process credit card payments and create the label failed. So, we deleted the account, registered and tried again and finally were able to do it.
It’s understandable that some seniors could have difficulty. We paid the lost property office a visit and a helpful employee came out to greet us, telling us that they are doing the best they can. He immediately escalated Rose’s problem.
TransLink said it’s returned 1,172 items since March 20 and that this was the first time it had heard of problems customers were having retrieving their items.
While we were there, we ran into Allan Carson, an elderly gentleman who had come down to the office to see if a cane he’d lost a couple months ago had been found.
“I didn’t know if it was closed or not,” he said.
That same TransLink employee told Carson to wait right there. He’d find him a cane from a pile of abandoned, unclaimed canes in the back. And he did, giving Carson another cane to help him get around.
“I thank you very much, and you’re a gentleman. Take care,” said Carson.
That’s the kind of customer service Rose had been hoping for. On Tuesday, within a few hours of our visit a courier arrived at her door. TransLink had returned her wallet.
“I have my Visa card, my bank, my licence and this is the ID that I really, really wanted,” Rose said. “You got me help right away. And I thank the people who turned it in.”
TransLink said it alerted Canada Post to the issue Rose had trying to get a prepaid shipping label, and we flagged the issues we had as well.
Canada Post said it was not aware of any widespread issues with its system but understood the customer’s frustration, stating it would continue to investigate.
TransLink told CTV News that if people are having trouble they should call customer service, stating, “Our reps are really helpful.”
It said if there are issues they would handle it on a case by case basis. Rose wishes someone had taken ownership of her issue but said that didn’t happen until CTV News got involved.