I Love Red Tape

February 9, 2010 by Michelle

Last day for the soup giveaway… and what, only two people like soup? Come enter here; you’ve got great odds!


In Illinois, we’ve got the I-Pass that allows us to go through the “temporary-just-until-we-pay-for-the-highways-built-in-the-1950s” tolls, which makes it ever so convenient. And it’s technically half price now, since cash tolls are twice the price.

Needless to say, my husband and I both have I-Passes, even though we don’t go on the highways that often. They pay for themselves, and they’re awfully convenient.

Well, most of the time.

When we went to go see Disney on Ice last week, I noticed that my husband’s I-Pass didn’t go off when we went through the toll. In fact, I was pretty sure I saw flashes of light behind us instead of the nice blue light on the toll pole that shows that the toll was properly deducted.

I sighed and asked if he’d refilled the I-Pass lately. Or if by chance he’d noticed the yellow light going off the last (at least) twenty-five times he’d gone through a toll. Mmmm no. He didn’t believe it was out of money.

I tried calling the 800 number on the I-Pass figuring to get it straightened out immediately. After being told that I had a “more than ten minute” wait to provide them with money and arriving at the Allstate parking lot, I decided we could try later.

When we got to the toll booth on the way back, we went into the cash lane, and the lovely man working in the toll booth confirmed that yes, the I-Pass was out of money.

My husband then, smartly, decided that he’d call to fix it the next day. And – amazingly enough – he called. Except that he was told that they couldn’t talk to him about the account at all, and no, he could not give them money to replenish the transponder because he wasn’t on the account.


I totally get wanting to avoid identity theft. I completely understand not wanting to talk to people regarding, say, credit card accounts when they aren’t on the account. This reminds me of getting married and having no issues changing my name on my credit cards and bank accounts but requiring original notarized copies of my marriage certificate to change the name on my grocery loyalty card.

The next day, I called, and fortunately, I did not have a more than ten minute wait.

I gave the transponder number to the woman who requested it.

I verified my name.

I verified my date of birth.

I verified my email address.

I verified my home address.

I verified my email address.

I gave my phone number.

It wasn’t the right one. No biggie, right? I asked that she update it, but she couldn’t do that. She couldn’t talk to me about the account until I provided her with the correct phone number.

Apparently all the other information isn’t enough for me to provide them with money.

I sighed and asked what my options were. She reiterated that she could do nothing for me until I validated my phone number.

I explained that I had moved three times since getting the transponder, plus a few different work numbers and two cell phones. I could almost hear her shrug with disinterest.

I sighed again and began listing phone numbers, hoping that I remembered them correctly.

The fifth phone number was finally the right one. Thank goodness. From there, I was able to successfully replenish my account and pay them money.

But seriously? There is a time and a place to be overly careful verifying information. A tollway authority where one is trying to give them money is neither. I mean, really, if someone else wants to fund my account, why should I care?

I think I remember now why I’m not a public servant. Not that I ever really forgot.

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  • Laura

    No toll booths in Alaska or billboards but we do have plenty of red tape and roads to nowhere.

    Hate the cable company “whats your pin” my freaking pin? ummmm no I want to pay the internet bill not order cable. It's easier to transfer money on the phone that pay for something. GGAHAAHHHHHHH

  • WeaselMomma

    Leave it to the govt to make everything 10z harder than it needs to be.
    BTW, you were lied to. I have often added money to ours and I'm not on the account. It depends on who you get on the phone.

  • Tara R.

    We have SunPass transponders for FLA toll roads. I set up an account for my daughter ~ her name, my credit card. I couldn't add credit to that account either, she had to do it, even though she was a minor and I paid the charges. Ridiculously complicated.

  • Cookie

    Wow! I can't say that I'm surpirsed by this, but I do feel your frustartion! When I get frustrated by people like this by husband always says, “there's a reason why they work THERE and they are not doctors, dentists or judges!”

  • Hyacynth

    That's overkill. But what do you expect from an Illinois-state-run company? lol.
    Also, I didn't know you spoke an Asian language.

  • septembermom

    I'm wiped out just reading that post 🙂 Those kind of situations just take the life right out of me. Who needs that thorough a questioning?

  • Pat

    I feel your pain. I don't think I would be just sighing. I would be starting to sound irritated. That sounds SO-O-O frustrating!

  • Connie

    How frustrating! Thank goodness you could remember all your phone numbers, or at least the right one!

  • Michelle

    Laura – I think red tape exists everywhere, but be grateful not to have toll roads, at least!

    WeaselMomma – No kidding. And I'm sure it is actually policy, but … you know how well people follow policy. That or you're just that much more persuasive!

    Tara – Yep. And do you want me to get started about student privacy and report cards in college, regardless of who's paying? And Mine are only 4 and 6!

    Cookie – True… Although sometimes I feel like doctors, dentists and judges utilize just as much red tape 😉

    Hyacynth – Amen! I expect no less. And no Asian language. Apparently I'm becoming so popular that I'm being spammed by Asian language bots?

    Kelly – Oh c'mon, you've got four kids. How can that possibly wear you out?

    Pat – I tried really hard not to sound irritated, knowing that would only make the situation worse. I'm sure I didn't fully succeed, however.

    Connie – No kidding! Can you imagine the fun if I weren't able to? I think I'd have a pretty good case if we were fined for not paying tolls later, though!

  • Mrs4444

    It's crazy, but it sounds familiar, unfortunately. Loved the line about the inaudible shrug-nice touch.

  • Michelle

    Mrs4444 – Oh I have a feeling just about everyone can relate to this. It's a little too par for the course, isn't it?

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