Monday morning. A nipping wind fans my face. From out of nowhere, a ear-piercing alarm sweeps through the station in Rheden.
This thought turns out to be too naive. 'You have to go to the site; this pass hasn't been activated yet', says the conductor, visibly annoyed when he inspects my Smartcard. He's got a point there. I've only looked at ov-chipkaart.nl, studentenovchipkaart.nl, connexxion.nl and ns.nl, but not 'the site'. When I tell him that I really don't understand, I get a snappy comment that it's really quite simple. He doesn't tell me where I can find 'the site', though.
Well, I guess I'll just have to do some searching. On one of the sites, it says that I have to activate my Smartcard by clicking on 'get travel products'. I've done that - three times - only to be confronted with the message 'there are no products for you'. According to the ticket machine, I am entitled to travel free of charge throughout the week, something which I approve of. But to my frustration, the weekend discount which was there before is now gone. Moreover, the money which I've banked into my pass has also suddenly disappeared, leaving me in the red. I'm aware that as a student, I have to discard my fear of borrowing, but this is a very unorthodox way to do so.
Even those at the customer service can't give me any help. My postal code, student number and ov chip pass number don't even exist.
What a relief this system must be to the public transport system in the Netherlands. It's finally given them other complaints than being blamed for not being on time.