Updated: January 23, 2012 2:52AM
Dear Fixer: My aunt borrowed my car last night and drove out to Indiana on the toll road. She did not know that I had an I-PASS transponder in the car, so she paid the toll in cash in the cash lane.
I checked my I-PASS account today and they deducted my account for the toll. So we paid the toll twice. I called the customer service department today and they say they cannot credit my account.
The issue is not the money, but rather the principle that the toll road is quick to get violators through monitoring equipment and late fees, but they won’t credit a customer when credit is due. The customer representative said this happens in other situations as well and they won’t credit the customer. For example, if you accidently left two transponders in your car, then you would pay twice and they would not credit your account. This is very wrong and should be “fixed”!
Nitet Charo, Dyer, Ind.
Dear Nitet: We agree: Sometimes a $3.50 toll is more than a $3.50 toll. And you raise some important issues that could affect summer road-trippers. So we asked the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, “What gives?”
Here’s what we found out about your case: Apparently, crediting your account was complicated by the fact that it happened on the Skyway in Indiana and involved a different toll authority. After we took your problem to Illinois tollway authority spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis, the Illinois people were able to talk with their Indiana counterparts and they put the money back in your account.
On the issue of how other drivers might avoid the same fate — especially if they are driving out of state this summer and wondering about whether to pay cash — McGinnis said I-PASS will work anywhere E-ZPass transponders are accepted.
E-ZPass is used in 14 states to our east, excluding Connecticut and Vermont. For more detailed information, check out ezpass.com.
Here in Illinois, I-PASS customers may go through the I-PASS lanes or the cash lanes — though if they go through the cash lanes, they need to stop!
Drivers who are traveling with an extra transponder or a transponder they don’t want to use should wrap it in aluminum foil so its signal won’t be picked up at a toll plaza.
The late Douglas Adams, author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” had a famous quote about deadlines: “I love deadlines,” Adams said. “I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
Every writer knows what Adams is talking about. But when it comes to consumer deadlines, that whooshing sound can be accompanied by a sick feeling in your stomach. That’s what happened to Ron, of Blue Island, who wrote to The Fixer about his own missed deadline.
Ron had an expensive TV for which he’d purchased an extra warranty. “I knew it was about to expire, so I called to inquire about the status,” he wrote. “I was put on hold for quite a while and wasn’t given any opportunity to plead my case. I was told that my warranty had expired and the renewal period had ended four days earlier.
“I was ready to pay for an extension and was basically informed, for lack of better words, that I get nothing unless I buy something brand-new.”
What really galled Ron was that he’s bought quite a few products from this retailer and had hoped for nicer treatment. “I’ve worked firsthand in a professional atmosphere for quite a bit and have never dismissed a person so nonchalantly as I was dismissed.”
If there’s a bright spot here, most consumer experts say the extended warranties sold with products are almost never actually needed. So we’ll hope Ron’s TV lives to a ripe old age.
And the lesson for the rest of us? If there’s a consumer matter that needs your attention, keep track of time and don’t let the deadline whoosh by.