Saturday, December 15, 2007

Easy money: "Sometimes you can get fined without even knowing it."

Toll and trouble

Unmarked booth leads to instant fine

December 15, 2007

Our Opinion
Times Record News (Wichita Falls, TX)
Copyright 2007

Oh, the marvel of technology.

Fast, simple, convenient.

Slap a barcode on something, and technology simplifies your life.

In a flash, you can pay for something, consume something, order something, get fined for something.

Sometimes you can get fined without even knowing it.

Just ask one of our editorial board members, who received a fine for an infraction he didn’t even know he’d committed.

Somebody knew.

The state of Texas knew.

The Texas Department of Transportation knew.

The instant he committed the infraction, technology entered him into the system. The system knew a lot more about him than he realized.

His license plate number gave them his name and his address -- make that his billing address.

In an instant, a bill was sent to the corresponding address, alerting him that he’d failed to pay a toll.

That’s a simple infraction, sure. Many of us have approached a toll booth and, fumbling through our console or purse, realize we don’t have enough for the toll. It happens -- so much so, that a video camera captures your failure and sends you a bill.

When the bill shows up in your mailbox, you know exactly when and where this occurred.

Our friend, who is pretty detail-oriented, had no idea.

The bill listed the interchange where his violation occurred:

FM 2281/Old Denton Road Exchange, Sept. 29, 2007.

Yes, he’d been in Dallas on that day, on that road, in fact.

That was a toll road?

Not only did he not remember failing to pay the correct amount, he couldn’t remember EVER seeing a toll booth on that stretch of road. No signs telling him to either slow down and pay exact change or blow through the TxTag lane unimpeded.

No signs at all.

Regardless, video caught his violation and a bill, for a whopping $1.40, was sent to his Wichita Falls address.

That’s a pretty good deal they’ve got going.

For 41 cents, the cost to mail him the bill, they get $1.40.

Multiply that by all the other poor souls who, honestly, didn’t realize that was a toll road and, without even getting the chance, didn’t pay the toll.

You could estimate that thousands of cars pass by that spot on any given day. Even if half fail to throw their money into this imaginary booth, that’s some pretty good revenue.

Easy money.

Don’t you just love technology?

© 2007 The E.W. Scripps Co.:

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