TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Some Concerned About Privacy Implications of E-ZPass System

Re: Some Concerned About Privacy Implications of E-ZPass System

Isaiah Beard (
Thu, 24 Mar 2005 14:09:59 -0500

John Levine wrote:

> The potential for privacy problems is severe, but to their credit I
> don't think I've ever heard reports of abuses. Besides the
> possibility of tracking people by tag use, there's the violation
> tracking issue. If you drive through an E-ZPAss booth in NY with no
> tag or an invalid tag, a camera takes a picture of your car and they
> will ask the state DMV to look up the license plate number so they can
> send you a ticket.

There's also that nagging problem where the system isn't perfect, and
sometimes the RFID tags that are used don't work, or you have a
malfunctioning toll lane. I just recently got hit with one of those.
I'm an EZ Pass user, and my work ended up taking me to a remote podunk
little rural area in southern NJ. When I got ON the turnpike at a
major, heavily travelled and manned toll plaza, I passed through the
EZ Pass lane and my tag registered just fine. Getting out to the
sticks, I exited in a remote, unmanned and probably barely used toll
plaza. Bzzzt! My transponder wasn't picked up and I was flashed a
"GO: TOLL UNPAID" warning on way my off the turnpike. Lovely.

Later that day I called up the EZ Pass customer service number and
told them what happened. "No problem," came the response. "As long as
your license plate is resgistered on your EZ pass acount, we'll make
the correction and everything should be fine."

Fast forward to yesterday. Assurances notwithstanding, I received a
toll violation notice from the NJ Turnpike authority. Attached was
that oh-so-incriminating photo of my car "skipping the toll," and a
bill for $25.70 ... 70 cents for the actual toll, and $25.00 in
"administrative fees," along with one of those typical scary-language
legal threats that if I don't pay up within 10 days, I could be hit
with additional fines "in excess of" $200. Clearly, they knew where
my car got ON the turnpike in order to charge the correct toll amount,
otherwise they would have assesed the maximum toll amount (which I
believe is around $2.00). So you'd think they'd figure it out that my
tag was successfully scanned there and obtain the correct billing data
that way.


So now, I have to fill out a "dispute form," and indicate in writing why
I feel I SHOULDN'T be hit with the fine. I've explained that I am an ex
pass customer and had my tag in the car, and attached supporting
documentation (tag serial number, account #, etc.). We'll see what kind
of response I get.

E-mail fudged to thwart spammers.
Transpose the c's and a's in my e-mail address to reply.

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