Monday, January 31, 2011

Another piece of dubious Chinese design

In the past year or so, automated ticket-vending machines have sprung up on the Beijing subway network.  I hadn't had to bother about them much (60 or 70% of them seemed to be 'out of service' at any given time anyway), but both of my pre-pay subway cards crashed on me recently, within a few days of each other (mysteriously irradiated by a passing UFO??), wiping off a small but irksome amount of remaining credit in both cases - and I gather there is only one place in the whole of Beijing where you can attempt to replace a faulty card and get your deposit transferred over to a new one (yes, it's only 30 kuai, but it's the principle of the thing!).

I haven't yet got around to that; so, for the past two or three months I've become a regular user of the vending machines.

Luckily, not too many other people seem to be (as yet); so it's actually a fairly swift and painless method of procuring tickets for travel.  Except that.....

Well, the touch-sensitive menu screen can be maddeningly glitchy.  It appears to utilise body heat.  So, when there's 20 degrees of windchill.... it DOESN'T WORK.


JES said...

The Stepdaughter related to me a couple years ago a surprising fact, or perhaps "fact": wrapping a mag card in eelskin fouls up the bits recorded on the stripe. She learned this the hard way -- by acquiring a wallet made of eelskin.

You don't seem like the kind of guy who'd carry an eelskin anything, let alone wallet. But I'm always ready to be surprised!

Froog said...

Your stepdaughter is Inuit?? I didn't know anyone made artefacts out of eelskin!

No, I had my cards in a pair of plastic wallets (the ones given away free with the London Underground's equivalent, the Oystercard).

The fact that they both gave out on me within a week I found puzzling. Planned obsolescence??

JES said...

*laughing* No, she's not Inuit. Apparently this is, or was, some sort of faddish designer accessory: belts, wallets, perhaps gloves made of eelskin.

The mind is drawn, you know, to the idea of something called an Oystercard in an eelskin wallet. Where on earth did they come up with that name???