I Got Satisfaction

For nearly four years now, I’ve been “chauffeuring” My Favorite Domer to and from Notre Dame — for his moves in and out, vacations, and so forth.

And for the entire time, I’ve had to travel along the Indiana Toll Road, which, according to Wikipedia, is a 156.28-mile east-west roadway spanning northern Indiana from the Illinois state line to the Ohio state line.

Had I known from the get-go, I’d have signed up for one of those E-ZPass things. You get a transponder on your car and zoom right through the toll booths, while they deduct the toll amount from your E-ZPass account.

Cool.

But I didn’t know about all that, and now that he’s a senior it seems moot. Most times I’ve succumbed to what the E-ZPass folks say they prevent — pawing through my purse, or hitting up Domer, or scratching around in my glove box, for change.

Three dollars each way adds up to a pretty hefty amount over four years!

On our most recent trip after Thanksgiving, we came to the toll booth at South Bend, and I handed Domer a twenty for the tab.

No attendant was on duty, so we inserted the bill and had a great laugh over the clanking gold dollars that appeared — much like a slot machine — as my change.

I didn’t count it until we drove off, but quickly realized I’d been shorted.

Three dollars and twenty-five cents, to be exact.

Now that might not sound like a great deal of money, but the toll one way is $3.30.

‘Don’t worry about it,’ Domer advised.

Easy for him to say. He didn’t lose $3.25.

On my return trip, I asked the attendant about making up the difference. She gave me a receipt with the toll road’s number and advised me to call them.

I did after I got home, explaining that I had no receipt verifying my story and apologizing for being so cheap as to complain about three measly dollars.

The woman took down my information/complaint and said it could be 60 to 90 days before I heard anything. They had to audit the machine and see if it really had shorted me.

Well, wonder of wonders. Two days later, another woman called to announce the machine had confirmed my story!

And she needed my mailing address so they could send me my $3.25.

Sometimes it pays to complain. But I’ve got to know — what would you have done, if you’d been me??

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30 thoughts on “I Got Satisfaction

  1. Good for you! I would be a shame if it was doing that on a regular basis.
    I’d have probably let it go, however, my hubby would have let them know if it had happened to him.

  2. Good for you! It bugged you and you took care of it. I would have followed up. It would have been worth the time and effort to me. They certainly would have followed with me if I had missed the toll. I know this for a fact. Atta Debbie!

    • Apparently, they’ve rigged these machines with cameras because they asked for a description of my car when I made the initial complaint. I was wondering how they’d know! I never figured they’d simply believe my story without corroborating evidence!

  3. The same thing, Debbie. I’ve done it in many situations. Just did it with Macy’s because I bought a slipcover on-line that didn’t fit right and when I went to return it, found they wanted me, the customer, to pay for the return shipping. So many companies give you postage paid return forms, I thought that was cheap of Macy’s. I called and spoke my mind, nicely, and they said they’d reimburse me the shipping (which was $12.85). I did the same with my SW Visa card last month, and got the equivalent of a free domestic RT flight credited to my Frequent Flier total. Rational, reasonable comments and, in my case, I often tell them what I’d like them to do for me as a customer, almost always equal some savings or compensation. I try to be fair (like you did with the toll shortage) and they usually try the same in return.

    • Barb, I’m in awe! You really did all that? How totally amazing! I think too often we think of ourselves as “the little people,” when that’s the farthest thing from the truth. If it weren’t for us, these businesses wouldn’t BE in business, so it behooves them to make things right and fair. Outstanding — consider yourself high-fived!!

  4. The cameras at the toll booths are to help identify toll-runners – the people who just roll right through without paying anything. At least, that’s why they get most of their use down here. Nice that the camera helped you out!

    For $3.25? Naw, I’m not going to mess with it. Over $5 and I would might. Over $10, absolutely. It’s the old time vs money calculation. My time is a lot more valuable to me than small amounts of money. Of course, I’m still running a positive balance since I found the ten dollar bill in the parking lot. ;)

    • Oooh, I just LOVE finding money!! In fact, that’s one of my more pleasant dreams! I, too, am glad the cameras worked in my favor this time. I also learned I was supposed to be getting a receipt every time — a major surprise to me, as I don’t usually get one, either from the machines or from the attendants. This whole thing would have been easier with a receipt. I really didn’t expect them to take my word for it, but it’s good they have parameters in place for such situations!

  5. Good for you, Debbie! I have a story in reverse about tolls. I had rented a car while in Chicago a few years ago and was driving the rental back to the airport when I had to go through a toll. I didn’t know there’d be a toll and didn’t have any money on me, which is rare. So I had to drive through without paying. I knew it would take a photo of the rental so when I got to Hertz they told me to call the department that runs the tolls and explain. So when I got home that’s what I did and they told me where to mail the money which I did. Here in Southern California, we don’t really have tolls on our freeways. There’s only one I know of, but that’s in the Los Angeles area so I don’t go there much.

    • Monica, it’s so good hearing of an honest motorist — I knew you would be, of course! I didn’t even know anybody could drive through without paying — the ones I’m talking about have a barrier-arm that prevents it (unless you run through while the car in front is going through, I guess!)

      It’s hard having these toll roads. I suspect most motorists consider them nuisances, believing the roads have been paid for for years, so why should we keep paying? Upkeep, patrolling, etc. all must come into play. We don’t have them downstate.

  6. I would have contacted them as well. I work hard for my money and I shop bargains to spend as little of it as possible on “stupid” stuff. I don’t do all that just to pay double on a toll road! (We don’t have toll roads here, thank goodness.) I do it at the stores, too. I know the prices and I tell them if it’s wrong, even if it’s on a few cents. That adds up.

    This being said, if I was particularly busy at the time, I may not have taken the time to contact them…but twenty years from now, I’d be telling the story of how that toll booth ripped me off back in 2012!

    I’m glad you got your money back!

    • Thanks, Janna. It definitely feels good to even the score. And for the record, if they’d overpaid me, I’d have at least tried to settle up there, too! I know everything in life can’t always be fair, but I agree with you — I work too hard to fritter my money away on worthless things. I’m glad we don’t have toll roads downstate, and I suspect people here would throw a hissy-fit if they tried to set some up!

  7. I’d have complained, as you did. $3.25 may not be much, but when you count up all the money you’ve paid in tolls over the years, it’s a lot.

    I’m impressed with the customer service you received. A quick and satisfactory response is just not the norm these days!

    • I was surprised, too, Terri. The first woman, in fact, indicated to me that I had a snowball’s chance in you-know-where for getting my refund. She tried to talk me out of even placing the complaint, but I told her I wanted to anyway. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather when I learned I was successful — though I have to say, I haven’t received a penny yet, Ha!

  8. I don’t think I would have complained. Not that I wouldn’t have been mad. And not that $3.26 is not significant. It’s just that I am not much of a complainer. But I”m glad you got your money back. That means they’re trying to be honest.

    • I don’t like to think of myself as a complainer — I prefer thinking I just have this issue with Fairness, ha! Still, if the shoe had been on the other foot, I know I wouldn’t have rested until I’d given them back every cent, so maybe it all evens out in the wash.

    • I’m glad to know so many people agree, Tanya! Thanks for visiting and weighing in with your thoughts. Hope things are better for you — you’ve got power back on, right??

      • yup…we have lights. Still cleaning and fixing…it will be a long road. The insurance companies are overloaded so they will not be making payouts until early next year. They did give us a check to get things started. So many of my neighbors still have no light and many homes are damaged beyond repair. People are trying to get back to normal…a new normal. Thanks for asking.

        • You’re all still in my prayers — glad you have power, but so many are still suffering and it must be hard, especially at this time of year. I don’t even want to think about that being normal. You’ve got to feel sorry for the ones who just can’t rebuild — either because of age or income.

  9. I would have done the same thing on principle. Nobody likes to feel cheated. But sometimes it works the other way. I drove through the EZ pass lane the other day as I always do, only this time the machine said “unpaid” but was too late for me to stop. Then I remembered that I was driving my husband’s car and he doesn’t keep an EZ pass device in his window. Oops. This time I’m the one who cheated them. But not for long. I’m sure my bill is already in the mail.

    • Yep, they have their ways of catching up to those who on purpose or inadvertently bypass their toll stations! Glad to hear I’m not the only one being “cheap” — especially at this time of year, ha!

  10. Another angle nobody has mentioned is that the machine was apparently broken and your reported it. Who knows how many others it may have shorted, or soon would do?

    In Pennsylvania they are in the process of phasing out all toll-booth attendants. We get a discount for using EZ Pass, which won’t mean much when the attendants are gone. Or maybe it will. Based on photos from those cams, they will track plates and mail bills to those who drive through without EZ Pass, i.e. residents of other states not in the system, and I’ll bet there is a premium on those!

    Great story. Good for you for following through.

    • Hi Sharon and Welcome! Thanks for your comments — glad to see other states are implementing EZPass, which really seems like the best way to handle tolls. However, I can’t help but think that such automation is harmful for our nation. Besides the tragedy of putting people out of a job, you’ve got the impartiality of a machine rather than a (hopefully) pleasant person to give you directions and wish you a nice day!!

  11. Debbie, I would have done the same thing you did. Absolutely! The way I see it, that amount of money buys me a cup of coffee. And besides, why should you have to pay the price for a faulty machine? You did your civic duty and alerted them to the fact. Who knows how many people never bother to claim their money! Not fair, I say! :)

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