SunPass Regularly Overcharges Customers

SunPass, Florida’s automated prepaid toll system responsible for processing 2 million tolls each day, regularly overcharges and erroneously bills customers, according to an investigation from WTSP.

Joe Pothier checked his and his wife’s bill after our first story and found overcharges on both. He showed us a bill that had the same day, same hour, same minute, same second and they charged $1.50 and then $12.

When he called SunPass to complain, Pothier says the agency told him it was his fault.

“She read off my vehicles listed online and she said, ‘You have a ten-axle vehicle,’” Pothier recalls. “And I said, ‘Ma’am, you just read off my three vehicles. I have a van, a Honda CRV and a Cavalier. You can’t even make 10 axles out of those vehicles.”

Tying a credit card to an automated toll system account usually guarantees that the account will always be funded. Unless you are Christine Bennett:

Even though Bennett has a SunPass which has its account replenished by a credit card, the agency had her driver’s license suspended for non payment.

She didn’t know about it until she applied for a job and they did a background check.

According to SunPass, Bennett has 30 tickets for going through the lanes without paying, including one involving a Jeep in Broward County.

“I’ve never been to Broward County,” Bennett says. “I’ve never owned a Jeep, rented a Jeep or had anything to do with this Jeep ever.”

Don’t worry, Floridians. SunPass is on the case. According to a spokesperson:

“We have a Sun Watch program that is state of the art that can monitor any equipment failure, that can detect problems with any equipment and remotely fix those problems.”

Anyone using an automated toll system should closely review their statements each month, and contest any erroneous charges.

Investigation uncovers more SunPass problems [WTSP] (Thanks to Sean!)

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  1. dbeahn says:

    Another problem with these passes is that you get jerks that pull up to the “gate” without a pass, and just wait for someone that isn’t paying attention to pull up behind them. The person BEHIND them gets charges the toll, they go through, then the passholder has to call for help since they’re now stuck. Or they have to wait for the next person to pull up behind them.

    I get great pleasure from watching someone pull up and wait, pulling in behind them and leaving enough space that the “gate” isn’t triggered but close enough no cars can get around me. Then I lay on the horn until a toll person comes over and explains to the car in front of me how this all works :)

  2. Cowboys_fan says:

    Ahh, technology, what would we do without you :D

  3. Ohh look…another reason not to go to Florida.

  4. bigdave914 says:

    Another thing is the interest you give them from you always having $10 in the account. If you use a credit card to fund as soon as you go under $10 it will replenish and they get to keep making money with your money.

  5. Coder4Life says:

    This is either a major system faliure. Or It was more than likely to screw up on random days thinking people would not notice.

    Yes, the goverment would screw you out of your money in other ways then taxes.

    I am seriously so tired of hearing stories like these, b/ who ever is the head of these systems and are just ignoring these problems should seriously be fired and put on the streets to live.

    They are not doing any good to the community by screwing over their citizens just so his family can now probably have a plasma tv in every room, and tv’s on the back seat of hte car, so the cars behind them can see what they are watching and god knows what else..

  6. skapunk84 says:

    @Coder4Life: Less and less people seem to care about their job and the people that their performance effects. I run into this every day at my own job. I try to do my best to make up for all of the mistakes, oversights made by other people as well as the complete lack of communication from other departments with our customers. It seems like this kind of attitude is going by the wayside.

    I love the ten axle statement, though. “Sir, you appear to own a large Mack truck.”

  7. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    “We are diligent in tracking down any mistake we can find, because every customer is valuable to us,” says SunPass spokesperson Joanne Hurley.
    Especially in ticket revenue vs. the buck I toss at the attendant when I go over the bridge.

    So your equipment which scans the pass works intermittently, but the equipment to take your license plate picture for not paying the toll works all the time….I see a solution here somewhere…

    Oh wait, this is Florida.
    Where you don’t have to move out of the left lane to let others pass, you can talk all you want while driving and holding your cell phone, and best of all, you can shoot someone because you felt threatened even when you are not in your home. Like South Park…”Omigawd…it’s coming STRAIGHT FOR US!”

  8. mrjimbo19 says:

    @Coder4Life the problem that exists is that govt. jobs are not treated like private industry jobs. You screw up in the private sector they will demote or even fire you, you screw up in a govt jobs and it seems they will promote you to get you out of the role…

  9. Sudonum says:

    @mrjimbo19:
    I’ve worked in private industry where people have been promoted when they have failed miserably in their current positions. Moved to another department so that they are no longer that department heads problem. It’s not just government jobs.

  10. Major-General says:

    They could do like Oklahoma, making cash customers exit to pay, whereas Oklahoma’s PikePass merely wants you to slow down, say 55 or 60, as you pay.

  11. beyond says:

    Uh, there is no such thing as a ten axle vehicle.

  12. BuddhaLite says:

    I live in the Tampa area and used a SunPass toll road for a number of years during my commute. Their absolute biggest scam is on selling you hardware. Often times I’d get warning letters showing me going through the lane where the device didn’t go off. When I’d call about it they’d act like the unit was defective. Their warranty is for 1 year and after that it’s another $25 for a new unit. I’d often spend a good amount of time explaining that if it’s their equipment I don’t see how they can blame me yet alone charge me another $25 to make sure their infrastructre is working properly.

  13. hellinmyeyes says:

    @doctor_cos: “Oh wait, this is Florida.”

    Nice, buddy. Not sure what paradise you’re from that doesn’t have inconsiderate people like Florida. Hmm…

    I’d be curious, though to see which highways most of the complaints are generated on. I have several dozen friends and coworkers that use SunPasses with very rare problems. The key, of course, like with any account situation, is to reading your statement.

    Yes, the requirement to keep your account charged is a scam. The box you have to buy is obscenely priced. (I think it’s $35 now if I remember.) Their saving grace is that it works, and much, much more often than not, it works right. Nobody I know ever has issues with these in/near Orlando (East/West Expressway, Bee Line, etc.) But Tampa and South Florida seem to be hot beds for these sorts of issues. I’m surprised though that no one ever Sunshine-Lawed them for records on failure rates, ticket rates, malfunctions, etc. I rarely hear of anyone contacting officials to get anything cleaned up, though. Fishy…

  14. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @hellinmyeyes: That would be Venice here on the Suncoast, or as we lovingly call it “God’s waiting room.” :)

  15. Sidecutter says:

    WOW! Ten axles? Even a double-trailer semi truck only has seven axles! Three-trailer semis don’t even exist to the best of my knowledge, and that would still only be nine! What the heck is a ten axle vehicle in their book? Do they have tanks on their tollways?

  16. meneye says:

    @spiderjerusalem: Florida doesn’t have a state income tax. I’d say that’s plenty of reasons to go there.

    I certainely hope they get this straightened out. I know especially around the Orlando area they have these all over the place.

  17. SadSam says:

    I’ve had a sunpass for years, never seen a statement – ever. I’m assuming I have to do something proactive to get a statement.

  18. JustAGuy2 says:

    @bigdave914:

    Honestly, while this is true, you’re losing (at most) 50 cents per year, before taxes. That doesn’t seem too brutal to me.

  19. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    SunPass is run by those wonderful people that counted the votes in 2000

  20. davere says:

    This reminds me. They used to email me my statement every month and I haven’t received one in quite a while. Off to the website.

    One time my SunPass didn’t beep when I went through a toll but I never got a letter or anything.

  21. dbeahn says:

    @Sidecutter: “WOW! Ten axles? Even a double-trailer semi truck only has seven axles! Three-trailer semis don’t even exist to the best of my knowledge, and that would still only be nine! What the heck is a ten axle vehicle in their book? Do they have tanks on their tollways?”

    I think the only 10 axle vehicle I’ve ever seen was on the Discovery Channel – this big ass truck they use in the Australian outback. They regularly operate “quads”, which due to the over all length has 4 axles on the rig itself and each trailer sports 3 axles as well. Rig plus 4 trailers tops out at 15 (!!!!) axles.

  22. Buran says:

    My bf lives in Coconut Creek and I got a pass (set to min replenish settings) for when I visit him.

    What I don’t get is why do they tell you to not hold the pass up to the windshield because that’s more likely to make you “violate” the toll system? Objects stuck to windshields can come loose in a crash and are therefore safety hazards; CA even makes it illegal to do such things.

    I just hold the pass up to the spot they recommend you attach it and it works fine.

    Government-sponsored safety stupidity. Typical.

  23. Buran says:

    @dbeahn: Those are called “road trains”.

  24. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    I’m guessing they have the same stupidity with EZPass and all its incarnations all over the east and west coast….?

  25. bluemeep says:

    I used to work for a guy that had a hand in creating this system. Astonishingly enough, he’s a money grubbing SOB that would as soon spit on your mother than hold a door open for her. He also keeps a rottweiler in his office.

    Lovely fellow.

  26. pestie says:

    Maybe I should keep a closer eye on my Sunpass account. I just take it on faith that the thing generally works. I haven’t had any obvious problems, though.

  27. Haltingpoint says:

    In response to BigDave914′s comment about the interest they earn on this…while it may seem trivial to complain to them about interest earned on $10, the bigger picture is all of the interest they make off the much larger sum that they collect “accidentally” from their customers.

    I’m not sure how much this amounts to annually but I guarantee it is a not insignificant number. I’m curious how they will be reimbursing those funds to their customers as they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to keep it.