• E-Z pest (Parts 1 and 2)
Twice in recent weeks my wife and I had occasion to travel on New Jersey’s
ugly boring convenient Garden State Parkway. We paid the usual tolls, followed the posted speed limits, and went on our merry way.
Shortly afterward, we received — on different days — notices of toll violations, one for her and one for me.
Not unusual to get different notifications since we had taken two different cars on our trips — one registered to me, one to her. But unusual in that the alleged violations had to do with the E-Z Pass toll lanes.
We don’t subscribe to E-Z Pass, for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact I don’t like the idea that a government or quasi-government agency can track my whereabouts (*), running a close second to my heartfelt belief that such agencies usually are riddled with incompetence.
Yes, the notifications had blurry photo images of our cars and the license plates were correct. However, we never use the E-Z Pass lane because we’re not authorized to do so, plus we’re not stingy or stupid enough to try evading a 25-cent toll. What would be the point?
So, I drew up a letter on behalf of both of us. It said:
To Whom It May Concern:
We have each received a “Notice of Enforcement Action” for alleged violations of toll lanes on the Garden State Parkway.
Both are in error.
• We are not subscribers to E-Z Pass.
• We do not use the E-Z Pass lanes.
• We did not avoid paying any tolls.
We suggest you look into your mechanized enforcement process to find your errors. Perhaps the situation is similar to the recent problems E-Z Pass experienced in the Buffalo, NY, area, in which large numbers of people were wrongly accused.
In addition, we are hereby requesting written withdrawal of these erroneous charges, for our records. The two notices are enclosed.
That should do the trick.
Well, I just heard from the State of New Jersey today about the E-Z Pass
foulup screwup scam problem.
No, not the letter of apology and clarification I requested. It was a
NOTICE OF ENFORCEMENT ACTION
in big black capital letters.
I’m now expecting a second such letter since this one only dealt with the original notice sent to my wife.
Once again, we’re off tilting at windmills in an attempt to get a government agency/business/other pest to rectify a problem of their own creation.
( * ) If that sounds like conspiracy theory paranoia, let me share a brief anecdote. When E-Z Pass first came into being, I was a senior editor at a daily newspaper here in the Empire State. The E-Z Pass people said no one should worry about their movements being tracked because that would never happen and no one would give out such information. One of our city editors had a long commute to work and used the Thruway on a daily basis. He signed up for an E-Z Pass card, drove on it for a while, then had one of his reporters go through a contact to get his E-Z Pass history. He had it in less than an hour.
Update: I eventually paid both tickets. A cop-out on my part, but since I have to use that same highway on a regular basis, I can’t envision myself trying to keep battling the State of New Jersey for unfettered and unharassed access even though it is in the wrong. And, for the record, I never received a human response to any of the three letters I sent, having to settle for mechanically-generated form letters that never did address the problem.