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or, better yet, give him a job."
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lost Your Clipper Card? How to Get a Replacement Fast

Nat Ford, CEO SFMTA (Parody 2)

One of the cool quirks of the Clipper card is if you ever lose your card, you can get a replacement card with your balance restored, as long as you meet some very basic criteria.

With paper passes and BART tickets, if you lose it, it's highly unlikely you'll ever see it again.

In order to get a replacement Clipper card with your e-cash balance, ride books, and/or passes restored, you need to have one of the following:
  1. Clipper card registered under your name.
  2. Clipper card enrolled with autoload (your name is automatically registered).
If you are not participating in autoload AND you didn't register your card (anonymous card), you can stop reading this blog entry because do not have the right to have the balance restored.

What you need to do first...
Inform Clipper about a lost or stolen card so that you get protected from any unauthorized usage of the card, and puts card readers on alert to rewrite the missing card as invalid. You can give them a call or login to your account online; the other option is to fax the form.

Fastest Method to Get a Replacement Card
If you want to get a card replaced immediately, go to the Clipper customer service center at either the Embarcadero BART station or the Bay Crossings booth at the Ferry Building. If you filed a report online or by phone, a card will be ready for you the next day. But typically, if you lost your card, just walk up to them and they should be able to do it on the spot (without first calling, going online, or faxing). UPDATE: A recent comment said that you must report it lost first; going to the counter without a lost card on file will not get a card issued immediately. Can Clipper please verify this?

Not Willing to Go to Downtown SF?
You will need to inform Clipper that you want your replacement card to be sent in the mail. It can take up to five days for a new card to be mailed. They won't reimburse you for the days you lost your balance or days you can't use your pass.

Got a Youth Card with your Picture on it?
If so, you have a card issued by AC Transit and you are eligible to purchase AC Transit youth 31 day passes; other youth cards (without the photo) can't buy the 31 day pass, but are still eligible for the youth cash fare. To get a replacement, call Clipper; the downtown service centers cannot issue new cards because they don't have the machinery to add a photo.

Replacement Fees
  • Clipper does charge a $5 replacement fee for a new card if you want the balance restored and you don't have autoload.
  • If you have autoload, the card's balance will be restored for no charge.
  • If your card has less than $5 balance, your card won't be restored because there's no point of paying a $5 replacement fee. Just get a new card at a local vendor.
Akit's Opinion
Having the option to restore your products is a good idea and at least is better than the old days when forking $50+ a month for a paper pass and losing it meant buying another. Losing a card sucks and it comes with a $5 fee, so always remember to keep your card in a secure location and don't drop it down onto the BART tracks.

On a final note...
Congratulations to CLAYCORD and the Richmond SF Blog for winning the Most Valuable Blogger awards for Local Affairs!


Anonymous said...

If you lose your card and go straight to Embarcadero without calling in first, they won't do it for you on the spot. You gotta call it in and wait for the report to make it into the central system (which typically takes about 6 hours).

Akit said...

Six hours? What a joke.

Ryan G said...

I lost my Clipper over the weekend a couple months back so I started the process on a Sunday. The system said it would provide a reloaded card minus any use up to midnight that night. Thankfully the card wasn't used. I had to pay the $5 fee with a credit card (really, you can't just take it off the balance?) since I don't use autoload and it took about a week to get the replacement. Hopefully this time I don't lose the card...

BBnet3000 said...

You can't get a paper ticket refunded if you lose it?

I lost a Metrocard in NYC once, that i had bought with Cash, and then awhile later I was informed that if you buy with a credit card, theres a number you can call and they can reimburse you for the balance on the card (so you better hope somebody didnt pick it up and use it, which is also the case with Clipper I suppose).

Akit said...

That's because in New York, you have to swipe your metrocard every time you use it, which also means if its lost, it can be hotlisted and made invalid upon the next swipe.

With flash passes, that can't be done because how can an operator identify if it's legit or lost/stolen?

Ryan G said...

I think BBNet meant doing paper passes like NYC does them - a paper pass you can swipe (and have to swipe). I don't pay enough attention to this, but I believe the MUNI metro station tickets are swipe passes.

I wonder if swipe card readers could be integrated with Clipper's system for tourists (instead of those scratchcard things) and people who don't want a plastic Clipper card. Akit, you frequently mention the problems with allowing a Clipper card to have a negative balance (and I agree) - maybe require plastic cards to be registered or at least tied to a credit card to go negative, and don't allow the paper swipe passes to go negative at all. The paper swipe passes could work just like Clipper for people who don't want to pay a $5 ($3, whatever) fee for a new card. It would help with Title 6, Clipper card fees, and negative balance issues. As I ramble my thoughts, I wonder how FastTrack handles Title 6. I recall my purchase involved $30 up front, most of which was a returnable deposit if I decided not to link a credit card. Can Clipper not be the same way? A minimum balance with a returnable deposit or autoload credit card.

Akit said...


Actually, the ones from the metro are basically paper versions of the Clipper card, they have the same electronics as a Clipper card, but it's sandwiched in heavy paper, instead of plastic. The only reason why Muni still has the swipes on the gates is because the lifeline and "P" passes are still in paper form.

As for the Muni passports, that's going to be a challenge for Muni as the scratch off ones are so much easier for tourists to use and without the hassles of learning how to use Clipper properly; plus its easier for the Cable Car conductors to visually see the passport than scan a tourist version of a Clipper card.

Lastly, I'm not sure how Title 6 affects Fastrak. It may not affect it because there's still the option to pay cash at a toll booth vs. having all public transit passes go Clipper only.

Anonymous said...

Of course, they will get you one way or anohter! I refuse to pay them $2/month to load my fastpass to clipper, so don't have autoload! What a cluster of non-customer service... thanks for the update though!