Her reduced-fare senior card was almost depleted, so on July 27, Jean Carroll tried to add money to it.
She walked to the CTA Red Line station at State and Randolph streets, inserted the card into a fare machine, fed a $5 bill into the money slot and hit "vend."
She pushed the button again, but her card remained stuck in the machine.
Carroll explained what happened to a transit employee and was given an incident report.
She emailed the report to CTA headquarters along with a simple request: She wanted a new reduced-fare senior card, and her $5 back.
In early August, the CTA sent her a letter apologizing for the incident along with a small stack of regular CTA fare cards, which totaled about $100.
"It was very nice," Carroll said. "I was very grateful and sent them a note."
But the letter did not include the only item she sought — a replacement reduced-fare senior card.
Carroll said she emailed the CTA several more times and was finally told in September that she was barking up the wrong tree. To obtain a replacement senior card, she had to apply at the Regional Transportation Authority, not the CTA.
Dutifully, Carroll visited an RTA office Sept. 24 and filled out the proper paperwork. She was told she would receive her replacement card in about 10 days.
When the card hadn't arrived almost a month later, Carroll wrote to What's Your Problem?
"I live in Streeterville, close to downtown," she said. "I always use the buses. I use buses to go almost anywhere."
While she is grateful the CTA sent her the $100 in fare cards, she wished someone there had told her to go to the RTA for her replacement senior card earlier. She also wished the RTA would send the new card.
"In one phone call to RTA's customer service department a few weeks ago, I was scolded by the RTA representative for 'allowing this to drag on so long,'" Carroll said.
The Problem Solver contacted RTA spokeswoman Diane Palmer and explained Carroll's situation.
After investigating the case, Palmer emailed to say RTA records show the replacement card was sent to Carroll on Sept. 25, the day after she visited the RTA's office. That letter was returned to the RTA because it had an insufficient address, Palmer said.
A supervisor called Carroll on Tuesday and requested her full address, including her apartment number. The supervisor also apologized for the "inappropriate comment" by the customer service agent on Carroll's earlier call, Palmer said.
"Bottom line … Carroll should receive her permit within the next 3-5 business days," Palmer wrote.
Carroll was relieved and promised to update the Problem Solver when the new card arrives.