Source: LA Metblogs
I've had a TAP Card since 2008. It's pretty useful if you need to buy a pass, and basically useless if you have the quite reasonable idea of just putting some money on it and using it like a debit card for bus and train fare.
Recently I decided to help a friend get one. She bought a day pass at a train station (where you can't get a TAP card, unlike in New York City), came out of the train station and got on a bus, because you can't buy a day pass on a Metro bus without a TAP card (how ironic). After that monumentally convenient exercise, we headed down to a Metro customer service center at Wilshire and La Brea and stood in line. After maybe 10 minutes we get to the front of the line and try to snag one of the precious blue cards, but . . .
It turns out you can't get a TAP card without a pass loaded onto it! Recall that she had already bought a day pass. Damn. No TAP card for us, unless we were willing to waste $5. Two words Metro: customer service. Get good at it, or stay broke. You're not acting like you want to carry a significant percentage of LA County's trips, and that's a shame, because that should be your goal.
I'm rooting for you, but you have to step up your game, a lot. When it comes to transit most people are much less patient and forgiving than I am.