Evidently the State Doesn’t Want My Money…

So let me lead off with the email I’m sending GoodToGo as I type this:

So some how I wasn’t notified as my account level got low. It’s now at -0.35 cents. I just went to go put money on it and am told “I can’t make a payment currently because the account is in negative balance.”

OK, I’ll try to call. I call and it wants some pin number that I don’t have and cannot find anywhere to set one on the website. I try to find a way to talk to a human and cannot find one.

So just to make sure I’m clear on this. I give an interest free loan to GoodToGo (WA DOT), am finally notified when I have a negative account balance because it’s run over, and when I try to go give another interest free loan I can’t? If it wasn’t for the fact this is “sanctioned by the state” I’d be calling the BBB to report a scam.

Why would I report a scam? Because at this point my assumption must be that the reason it is so difficult to pay a negative account balance is to accrue interest against the user, in which case why is my loan to the state an interest free one? And if not that to bill the user at a higher rate for using the toll bridge because my account is out-of-order. This also ignores the fact the first time I drove across the bridge I was billed through GoodToGo and sent a paper bill at a higher rate in the mail.

I have updated to a different card, although I would prefer not to have automatic payments configured on that card, but if this is going to be the way the state is going to behave I do not have much of a choice.

I had been making a habit of making one time payments when notified and this time I couldn’t.

As an additional note I will be forwarding this to my state representatives asking how this type of user interface and treatment of Washington State citizens is acceptable. Especially for those of us who purely use this in transportation to or from work. I will also be posting a copy of my experience and this letter, along with how the situation is handled on my blog.

Thank you and sincerely,
Barron Barnett

So for those not familiar with the GoodToGo system, you maintain a balance for toll roads around Western  Washington.  When you take one it subtracts from that balance.  When the balance gets low it can automatically get more from a credit card or deduct from a bank account.

The initial credit card I was using has been disabled, not because of lack of payment or anything, it just has and I’m too lazy to go call the bank to fix it.  I’m going debt free so why bother worrying about it, it forces me to not use it.

So I take to paying off my debit card when I get a low balance notice.  I get no low balance notice until I get a call and email about it this morning.  I go look at my account, -$0.35.  Well I need to fix that, I go into payments and see:

Outstanding Balance
Account balance is negative, payment not allowed. Please contact the Customer Service Center.

I then hop on the phone and start getting drug through automated menus.  Finally get to one that sounds reasonable, it asks me for my account number. I enter it.  Then it asks for a 4 digit pin.  A what?  I never configured a 4 digit pin, not that I remember anyway, and I cannot find anywhere in the online forms to find or configure a 4 digit pin.

So lets recap.  I’ve been giving interest free loans to the State of Washington so that I can drive over public roads at a non-inflated price.  I guess you could say that’s the interest, but then some pay more interest in others do they not because that becomes dependent on how long it takes for them to dwindle their account balance, but I digress.

Evidently my account ran negative and I just discovered this.  I attempt to use the manual payment system and am told to contact the Customer Service Center.  I do exactly that, and am greeted with an automated system asking for information that I do not know and cannot find a method to find out or set.

Ultimately leaving me in the following state, an outstanding balance I’m now aware of and unable to pay because their system is so screwy I could swear it was built by the same idiots that made the Obama-care website, and some would wonder why I don’t want my financial information stored within it.

And people wonder why I view the state as worthless and unable to pour piss out of a boot reading the directions off the heel.  If I can’t pay them when I owe them money, what the hell do they need the money for in the first place?

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.

He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do it’s thing.

About Barron Barnett

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms. He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do it’s thing.
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4 Responses to Evidently the State Doesn’t Want My Money…

  1. R says:

    They just have shitty software with a bad UI. I dealt with the same issue myself, got the same errors, and it happily charged me for $30 more when some automated process kicked in overnight and tried to run my updated credit card. Odds are that this will resolve itself over the weekend.

  2. Lyle says:

    Welcome to the club, Barron. That story fairly well describes all my experiences with computers and on-line accounts of any kind. They all eventually become unusable, assuming they were ever usable in the first place. I ran into a Catch-22 trying to activate this iPad, and had to get onto a Windows machine to get it working. The super-duper simple and, obvious and most readily predictable problem was that I’d had a long-standing Apple ID using old Apple machines that were no longer compatible with their web pages. So I’d essentially been kicked off the system until I could get on someone else’s machine that could use their registration pages.

    It never was completely resolved because I constantly get asked to sign on to the Cloud, and as far as I know I’ve never set that up so I just hit “cancel” rather than risk disabling my whole system by trying to log on.

    Shit like that happens anytime I try to do anything.

  3. oldnfo says:

    Same here in VA… sigh… And about the same customer ‘service’…

  4. Toastrider says:

    Automated ‘customer service’ (I use that term very hesitantly) systems have become quite popular with companies because, well, computers don’t ask for bathroom breaks or vacation days. The downside, of course, is that if you have a nonstandard problem, finding a live person to deal with can be a truly Herculean task.