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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

E-ZPass Can Kiss My Ass

Back when I lived in Connecticut, I had an E-ZPass tag in my car. It made driving back and forth from Bristol to Philly/Jersey/Boston much quicker, since I didn't have to wait in line to pay tolls. However, E-ZPass is only good as far west as Illinois. Beyond that, there are very few toll roads, none of which accept E-ZPass.

So when I moved to L.A., I took the transponder out of my car, peeled off the velcro strips that held it on, and didn't give it much more thought. I figured I wouldn't be needing it anymore, so I just smashed the transponder with a hammer (didn't want someone finding it in the trash and selling it on eBay for someone else to use), and I assumed the few dollars left in my account balance would just be lost.

Then I kept getting letters in the mail telling me that my e-mail address wasn't working and they couldn't send me my monthly statement. I didn't care much, since what could possibly be on my monthly statement if I wasn't paying any tolls? After almost two years of this, the letters managed to follow me to Portland. Finally, I decided to check my account.

It claims that I owe E-ZPass $4.60. Apparently I've been getting charged some kind of account fee, despite the fact that my account has been inactive for two years. Now, this sucks, but it's only $4.60, so I figured I'd call them up and cancel my account.

First I visited their website to find a number to call. This proved much more difficult than it should have been - seriously, go to the site and tell me how long it takes you to find a customer service number. They don't make it easy to find (or maybe I'm an idiot). But they don't even have the number on their letters that they mailed me!

Anyway, once I found the number, I called them up and navigated through the maze of menu options before I was finally able to talk to a live human being. Here's what I was told.

In order to cancel the account, they must have the cancellation request in writing, with my signature. They cannot accept cancellations over the phone. They also require me to pay the $4.60 balance. Okay, that's understandable, if not entirely fair. Then, they want me to return the E-ZPass tag - the one I destroyed.

"Oh, you don't have the tag? You'll have to pay a $23 lost tag fee."

This is a load of crap, but I don't really have much choice - I need to cancel this account so the service fees don't keep piling up.

E-ZPass, your service sucks. Just because you have an effective monopoly on toll transponders in the Northeast doesn't mean you should be okay with screwing your customers. And as far as I'm concerned, you owe me $27.99.

I wish I'd derived more satisfaction from smashing that E-ZPass tag.


  • At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 9:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Now, now, time to think like a laywer.... As I see it, this is a consumer class action waiting to happen! There is tons of precedent of defendants getting slapped for sharp practices such as charging an arbitrary "shipping and handling" fee of $4.95. This is easily up there. Think there "oughta be a law" against this? I bet there is!

  • At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 11:44:00 PM, Blogger kmn said…

    as a former fellow EZ-Passer, I sympathize. I returned the tag and close my account, but I left the velcro tags on my windshield (they're still there).

    Out of curiosity, why didn't you think to return the transponder in the first place?

  • At Wednesday, June 21, 2006 12:16:00 AM, Blogger Alex said…

    for under $30, I don't think it's really worth my effort to be the named plaintiff in a class action suit. Perhaps you know of a lawyer who would like to make a killing though?

    I didn't return the transponder in the first place because I figured there would be no use for it. I didn't realize I was required to return the tag when I closed the account.

    Now, looking at terms and conditions on the site, apparently I put down a $10 deposit on the tag when I opened the account, refundable when I returned the tag and closed the account. Also, there is a $23 replacement fee for lost/stolen tags. So in theory, I should either not have to pay the $23 and then lose the $10 deposit, or I should be getting $10 back once my account is closed, since they're getting a tag back. Either way, I'm still getting screwed.

  • At Thursday, July 20, 2006 9:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "I assumed the few dollars left in my account balance would just be lost."

    Ummm, so you didn't pay your last bill and just kind of "assumed" that they'd forget about it, let bygones be bygones, whatever?

    C'mon, that's ridiculous.

  • At Thursday, July 20, 2006 10:06:00 PM, Blogger Alex said…

    The way E-ZPass works, you prepay a certain amount, and then your tolls are taken out of your prepaid amount. When I say I had a few dollars left in my account, I mean that it was money I had already paid E-ZPass, not money I owed E-ZPass. I assumed E-ZPass wouldn't mind just taking my unused balance. Give me a little credit, whoever you are.


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