People Underestimate the Value of a Good Ramble

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Not So E-Z Pass

I hate dealing with New York State.  No I really, really hate it.

I try to avoid government interference in my life as much as possible, but sometimes it can't be helped.  In this case, we have an E-Z Pass, which even sounds silly, when you know how impossibly not E-Z it is to have to deal with NYS.

We'd avoid it entirely if my husband's jobs don't invariably seem to involve lots of driving around to places where he has to pay tolls. Of course, this being New York, you can barely go five feet without having to pay for the privilege.

We also have the misfortune to have to deal with the New York State Sales Tax Department. Another place that's filled with winners. The couple of times we've had to actually go to the office to deal with stuff, they are basically sitting around chatting, reading the paper with their coffee and ignoring the lines of people waiting for attention.

So, anyway, E-Z Pass has to have an account from which to draw money and, generally, they seem to take as much as they want whenever they feel like it.  I know there must be some rhyme or reason to it. I think when your balance drops below a certain amount they take more. Well, as it turns out, at the end of December, beginning of January, they took money out three weeks in a row! As a result, of course, the bank account we have set aside just for them was depleted and the bank wanted to charge me a huge fee.

I fought off the bank, transferred in more money and then got a notice from E-Z Pass saying that my account balance was low and I needed to set up another payment method. This was three weeks after I had dealt with the situation. But now I had to call the bank again and make sure the transferred money had made it in, which it did, then I had to go online and re-instate that account with E-Z Pass.  I know it sounds easy, but it wasn't.

While I was in that account, I noticed something.  Back in the summer when my husband traveled to Niagara Falls, and thus over the Grand Island Bridge, every day, he had signed up for some special program. Apparently, if you go into the GI office, they can set you up to get a discounted rate going over the Bridge.  But here's the fine print: You have to go over the bridge at least 20 times per month.  If you don't, they charge you for times you didn't go over.

That's right. You heard me. They charge you for the times you DIDN'T go over the Bridge.  Huh?

So I notice that the account has had all these deductions, for the past several months, which is basically us throwing our hard earned money off of the Grand Island Bridge.  I'd like to throw NYS E-Z Pass off there with it.

I wasn't sure how to fix this online, so I was forced to call. My first call throws me into an automated system that somehow determines who I am by the phone I'm calling from and then, before it lets me talk to someone, tells me my account is closed and hangs up on me.

My account is not closed. Yet.

So I have to call back and to avoid being hung up on again by an automated system, I just start pressing the 0 key. Over and over and over, while she keeps saying, "you have pressed an incorrect key" until she finally gives in and transfers me to a human.

I'm guessing the customer service rep I finally get is located in New York City (or possibly India, which wouldn't surprise me in the least), mostly cause of his accent, which is so thick I'm having trouble understanding him, and his attitude, which screams New York rude at me.

I explain my entire problem to him. He asks me all these security questions and then says, "your husband has to call in and ask us to remove that program from his account." "Um, buddy, what do you think I'm doing right now?" OK, so I have a little bit of my own New York rude.

So without exactly telling me what's happening, he says, "Do you know the pin number for the account?" I tell him what it is. He says, "I'll transfer you to the automated confirmation system" and suddenly, I'm back with the auto chick, who asks me to put in my pin number, thanks me and hangs up again.

Now I have no idea, did it work? Are we removed from that program?  Cause I have no plans on calling in there again anytime soon.

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