Wednesday, October 14, 2009

IPass Issues

IPass is a small transponder that you can put on the inside of your car to avoid stopping at the various cashboxes all along the Illinois Tollway system. As you can see from the photo below, the IPass users can speed along in the far left lanes, where those who do not have an IPass must pull to the right (sometimes in SUPER long lines) and manually pay cash for the tolls - and the price is double if you don't have an IPass. As an aside, the IPass also works on the Indiana Toll Road.
Yesterday I received a notice from the Tollway Authority that I was in violation - that I had skipped four tolls in September and that I was going to be fined $20 per violation. This is extremely odd as I had paid tolls around each violation which would mean in theory that I would have had to have my transponder up in the windshield for one toll, then take it down in the next, then put it back up after my so called violation. This obviously didn't happen, but as always I am guilty until proven innocent so I had to call the phone number on the violation sheet.

Before I called, I went online and retrieved the records of my transponder to have them ready when I called. As I thought, I had paid tolls in and around the violation times.

The call center is open from 6am to 10pm. I called last night at 9pm. I waited on hold for 45 minutes without getting through and then went to bed.

This morning I was furiously dialing right at 6am to try to be the first one in. I felt like a kid again, trying to get tickets to REO Speedwagon or something.

Bingo, I got in! I talked to a cold soul who asked me a bunch of questions to verify my identity. Then she removed the violations and billed my account for the tolls in question. I asked her if there was any sort of confirmation number or case number that I could record for my records and she said - and I will quote "your confirmation number is that you talked to Beverly now is there anything else I can help you with?" No Ma'am.

I notice that the charges were put through on my account this morning, I just hope to god that the violations were also taken care of. I recorded as much as I could of the phone call, and printed out the new charges on my account, in case the violations weren't wiped out and I need to prove my case to someone else in the future.


Carl from Chicago said...

Good picture of the ipass sign. Whenever I take a photo while driving it turns out badly.

That is pretty nuts that they'd just fine you intermittently like that.

Dan from Madison said...

I didn't take that photo, I found it on the intertubes.

As far as the random violations, it might be a racket as I bet many people will just rather send in the money than run the gauntlet of the phone bank. I am just praying that the charges were actually dropped - the fact that my account was billed the tolls this morning is a good omen though.

Gerry from Valpo said...

In Indiana you only pay upon exiting the tollway and there is a reader sign that alerts the driver when the ipass was accepted. It does not require a full stop.

I have have read in the ChiTrib that in Illinois open road tolling some motorists traveling too close to a semi have been charged for five axels. Try arguing that case.

One day that transponder will be used to time your travel and if it indicates a quicker than average trip they will send you a speeding ticket and charge the fine to your credit card account. Political hustlers in Illinois always find creative ways to steal more money.

Highway robbery.

Dan from Madison said...

Gerry - I couldn't agree more that someday they will use the timing on the Tollway to send you a speeding ticket.

Carl from Chicago said...

I've already been eye balling my times from spot to spot on the billing records and calculated the same thing. And I drive like a grandma in my old Altima.