Fit to be tied over bogus tolls
Updated: May 16, 2012 3:47PM
Dear Fixer: Let me start with this: I’ve never been to Massachusetts.
In February, I received a turnpike violation notice from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for $57.50. It included a picture of the offending vehicle’s license plate, which has the same numerals as mine though it didn’t look like a passenger vehicle.
I appealed, won and thought that was done.
Then I got a credit card bill showing a $40 replenishment to my Illinois I-PASS account on April 18. I checked and saw four more toll charges, all from Massachusetts. (After that, I got two additional toll charges.)
I called I-PASS multiple times. I also called MassDOT and got rudely shuffled off to two other agencies that said they couldn’t help.
The I-PASS people say they can’t protect my account. The Illinois Secretary of State’s office said I should change my license plate at a cost of $29. But since E-ZPass still has my account number, I’m afraid they will keep hitting my account every time this person goes through a toll.
Dear Timothy: Since you’ve never been to the Bay State, and you’re fairly certain you don’t have an evil twin, and the front of the Honda Fit you drive doesn’t resemble a semi-trailer like the one in the violation notice photos, The Fixer figured it would be fairly easy to get you off the hook.
The bigger challenge would be making sure you don’t keep getting dinged every time this Illinois trucker blows a toll in Massachusetts.
After getting in touch with the folks at MassDOT, we’re pretty sure this is fixed.
We got the attention of Michael Verseckes, MassDOT spokesman, who apologized for the hassle. As you found out, some Illinois passenger plates have the same numbers as Illinois commercial plates and specialty plates, though each has an additional designation noting the type of plate it is. Apparently, the E-ZPass image-reader wasn’t catching the distinction.
Verseckes said they will “make some tweaks” to their image-readers to better distinguish between different types of out-of-state plates.
The two violations have already been canceled, and the six tolls will be refunded.
Dear Fixer: My wife and I switched to T-Mobile on March 9 from AT&T for our cellphones. We called AT&T to find out how to cancel. My wife was told she had to pay the bill, wait a day and then cancel the service. So we paid the bill on the 8th and went to T-Mobile on the 9th and signed up and ported her number. We called AT&T that night and canceled the service.
We recently received a bill from AT&T saying we owe $150 for the billing cycle that started on March 9 and ended April 8. My wife told them we canceled, but they said that since the billing cycle started before we canceled, we owed the whole bill. Also, since a new cycle had started by then we would owe another $150 in May.
We canceled based on what they directed us to do and yet we still owe. Can you help?
Dear Greg: What a difference a day makes. In your case, it cost about $265.
You told The Fixer that because your and your wife’s phones weren’t under any contract, you figured this switch would be relatively easy. But apparently the instructions got garbled. The intent, we suppose, was to make sure the payment would clear so the account could be closed. But what happened was the account simply re-upped itself for another month (and then another).
We took this to AT&T spokeswoman Mollie West to see what she could find out. AT&T took another look and soon after, they let you know that they’re waiving all charges and will send you a new invoice showing a zero balance. You’re officially off the hook.
Get rid of this slide
The Fixer’s all for fun in the sun, but if you have this inflatable pool slide in your backyard, get rid of it now.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission this week announced the recall of 21,000 inflated “Banzai Splash” in-ground pool water slides, which were sold at Walmart and Toys R Us stores nationwide from January 2005 through June 2009 for about $250.
The slides can deflate during use, causing the user to clunk his or her head on the ground as they slide down. A 29-year-old Colorado mom died in Andover, Mass., after fracturing her neck as she went down the slide, and in two other accidents cited by the CPSC a 24-year-old man from Springfield, Mass., became a quadriplegic from his injuries and a woman from Allentown, Pa., fractured her neck.
The vinyl slides have a blue base, yellow sliding mat and an arch over the top of the slide. A hose can be connected to spray water on the downward slope of the slide.
Consumers are urged to immediately stop using the slides and return them to the nearest Walmart or Toys R Us for a full refund. (Consumers can just cut the two safety warning notices from the slides and bring those in, if they don’t want to transport the whole slide.)
For more info, check out saferproducts.gov.