Monday, June 9, 2008
Help Me Howard: Sunpass
Do you use Sunpass? Does it work? If you are saying yes, are you sure? OK, enough with the questions. Now let's hear about one woman who drove through the tolls for three years and is now being told, 'Yeah, the green light was flashing, but you didn't pay, and not only do you have to pay for the tolls, you have to pay the tickets for not paying the tolls. Legal? Let's turn to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Maria gets in her car to go to work she heads in a different direction each day.
Maria Garces Revoredo: "We go to the houses and hospitals to visit and service the kids that cannot go to school."
Maria teaches kids who are too sick to go to school. Kids who are battling diseases like cancer.
Maria Garces Revoredo: "The group of people I work with, I cannot begin or end to tell you how wonderful they are. They are all very special."
Of course driving from one end of Miami-Dade County to the other sends her through a lot of tolls, which is why her fiancee opened a Sunpass account for her three years ago.
Maria Garces Revoredo: "It was always working, always with a green light, always beeping when it passes through, letting you know that it has money.
For three years she rolled through the tolls with her Sunpass beeping, the light turning green and the arm going up. Then the mail came one day in April.
Maria Garces Revoredo: "I got five citations, not even the normal toll violation notices."
As you can see, over the next few days the violations kept pouring in and pouring in.
Maria Garces Revoredo: "Citations, not toll violations notices, but citations."
By then she had called Sunpass and was told she may have driven through the tolls for three years, but she had never paid, so she owed over $1,300 for the tolls and $1,700 in tickets for not paying the tolls.
Patrick Fraser: "So they want $3,000 from you?"
Maria Garces Revoredo: "Yes, sir."
Maria Garces Revoredo: "At that point, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. I started crying my eyes out."
Patrick Fraser: "So the tickets, the citations came when the transponder was working."
Maria Garces Revoredo: "Yes, sir."
Patrick Fraser: "What am I missing here? This doesn't make sense."
Maria Garces Revoredo: "That's the same question I ask."
Maria says she never knew she was not being billed because she thought her fiancee put her Sunpass account on his credit card. Instead, he put it on hers, but, in reality, it was on neither, and now a $3,000 problem was dropped in her lap.
Maria Garces Revoredo: "I have been raised to think the best of people. Call me naive, but I believe something is not right. Something with the system is not working."
Maria agrees she should pay the $1,300 plus for three years of going through the tolls. But thinks paying $1,700 in tickets for violations for the same tolls is silly, but is it legal? It's why she made a free call to Help Me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "Obviously, Sunpass made a mistake here, and it would be wrong for Maria to be punished for the mistake. However, as she understands, she still has to pay the tolls, just not the penalties for not paying the tolls."
We spoke to several Sunpass representatives. One told us, "We sent Maria notices that she was not paying three years ago." Maria says she never got them.
As Sunpass dug deeper, they discovered Sunpass was crediting Maria's account each time she went through a toll. A representative told me, "I don't know how that happened." A spokesman later told me, "We should have terminated her account three years ago. We think this is an account issue and not a system issue. We have two million customers, and we have never heard of this happening before."
Maria then paid the $1,300 plus for the tolls she has used. Sunpass wiped out the 58 citations, totalling $1,700 they had sent her.
Maria is happy, now has her Sunpass account straightened out and has some advice for anyone who rolls through, hears the beep and thinks everything is OK.
Maria Garces Revoredo: "Please check the statement. Jake assures they do it bi-weekly. Don't believe that they are going to be taking the money automatically. They are not doing it, they are not doing it."
Normally, they do do it. Apparently, Maria was a one in a million, no, wait, one in two million exception. By the way, when you get a notice from Sunpass, don't ignore it. If you don't pay or dispute the ticket within 30 days, your license can be suspended, and the odds of you not getting billed, like Maria, for three years, I can't count that high.
Feel like every time you try to go, someone passes you a problem? Is it taking a toll on you? Give us the green light to fix it. It's fast, we're friendly, and, most importantly, we get things done for free.
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