Friday September 4, 2009

Never Assume...

(Unfortunately, if you spend your life second guessing whether you're making assumptions, you may never get anything else done.)

I commute to The Job via train. I use WageWorks to buy my tickets. I save two ways: pre-tax dollars plus a 25% employer subsidy.

I've been using this system for close to three years now. The WageWorks card feels like a credit card; I just stick it in the ticket vending machine once a month. Easy and neat. There's just one small problem which I learned about today.

When you sign up for WageWorks, you tell them how much to contribute to your account each month. The contribution is made automatically. The funds are always available by the 20th of the month, so I can buy my ticket in plenty of time.

When I started using WageWorks, the price of a Caltrain monthly 2-zone ticket was $96, so I set the contribution amount to $120. I figured that would give me a little slop in case I needed it. When the ticket price when up, I raised the contribution amount. My contribution has always been slightly higher than the ticket price.

I assumed my contribution amount was a ceiling. I was wrong. It's a monthly deposit, regular as clockwork, the same amount every month, no matter how much I spend.

I've been accumulating a balance every month for nearly three years.

In June, I switched from monthly to "8-ride" tickets. That saved me about $30/month. I didn't think to change my contribution amount.

Today I got a note from WageWorks telling me that my "balance is $500 or more" and I should consider changing my contribution amount or using transit more often. Balance??

I went to the site and it's definitely "more". It's $428 "more"!


I canceled contributions. Given my current commuting costs, it's going to take me 15 months to use up the accumulated balance. Bad news: balances in the WageWorks account are non-reimburseable. Good news: they don't expire.

Apparently WageWorks only recently decided to notify people with "large" balances. I would have preferred being notified when my "balance" hit $100!

I'm only happy they didn't wait any longer. About everything else, I'm not happy at all.

15 months is a long time. I'd rather have the $$.

What assumptions have you been making?

Never Assume... ( in category Random Thoughts ) - posted at Fri, 04 Sep, 20:19 Pacific | «e»

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