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State Says SunPass Backlog Over, Now What?

The troubles with Florida's SunPass toll system started with what was to be a six-day upgrade in June. It's resulted in a major malfunction that led to motorists across Florida seeing their bank accounts being overdrawn and charged overdraft fees.

While the backlog was cleared last week and the Department of Transportation announced that customers could start asking for reimbursements for overdraft fees, customers remain skeptical of a problem that's plagued some people since mid-June, said Noah Pransky, a reporter at WTSP in Tampa.

"Now, a lot of folks in Florida live paycheck-to-paycheck, or if they needed to get reimbursed for their travel from work, they were starting to have real issues," said Pransky, who has been covering the story for months.

The department's announcement came the same day that members of the Florida Transportation Commission demanded the agency explain why Conduent State and Local Solutions was given a $343 million contract to manage the system. The contractor has been fine $800,000 for the delays and mistakes.

Pransky said it was an attempt to streamline expressway authorities from Tampa to Miami that led to the problems. 

"They were trying to consolidate a number of tolling systems throughout the state, so if you got a bill in the mail or you wanted to contact customer service, you could do it through a single source," he said.

Instead he said it created a long backlog in toll charges, by some estimates, nearly 200 million. As a result, Gov. Rick Scott has asked the state Inspector General to investigate.

State officials sent out letters to SunPass customers last week, explaining the process for reimbursement for overdraft charges incurred because of the toll system problems.

Pransky suggested that customers change their SunPass passwords.

"Also, check the transactions that have hit your account, because I am hearing from so many viewers that they were charged on days they weren't commuting to work, that there are errors putting them in different parts of the state at one time," Pransky said.

Patience, he said, is going to be key to resolving problems.

"You may want to give yourself a couple of weeks to do this, because the delays for customer service are still in the one-to-two-hour wait period," he said.