Where I live there is a privatized toll highway which is mainly owned by a engineering and construction company whose ethics and legal record has been called into question as of late.
Said privatized toll highway company has the legal right to refuse individual license plate renewals through the government if tolls go unpaid (keeping in mind this company has the right to raise tolls at anytime, to any amount it feels suitable), all the while the main public highway nearby is unable to handle current traffic loads and has absolutely no commuter lanes on it.
I just received a notice that I did not pay my toll bill and that I would not be able to renew my license plate. This was unbeknownst to me as when I checked online I had paid my bill. So I called customer service and spoke to a very polite man. Apparently my billing somehow became “disconnected”, so when I used my transponder toll device in my new vehicle on the highway, somehow charges didn’t show up on my account and I didn’t actually know I had to pay. The nice guy on the phone reversed the extra charges that one has to pay when one goes on the highway without a leased transponder device.
What the friendly guy didn’t mention to me was that I was charged a $20 admin fee, because that’s what the government charges the private toll highway company when the government has to send notices regarding unpaid tolls to the company’s customers. And that fee gets passed down to whom? Yes, right, you got it, the customer. So, if I didn’t ask, I was made to think that all the charges were magically reversed for me and I was given the option to pay my bill right away. Great!
Since I did ask about whether I was charged for any other fees, I expressed that I wasn’t liable for the fact that the billing system wasn’t smart enough to connect charges to my account and that I shouldn’t be paying the government’s $20 admin fee for the payments I missed, since I didn’t know I was supposed to make them. He was happy to reverse the charges at that point, without question. So I paid with my credit card the whole $26 I owed in the end, and I was kindly given the option to allow the company to automatically take billing amounts from my credit card. Guess what? I declined the automatic billing.
I have to thank my government for giving away a toll highway to a private company which screws its customers as often as it can. Oh, and thanks again government, for spending even more money on desperate lawsuits which attempt to limit how much customer screwing the company can do.
All this time, if the government owned the highway, it could have been receiving a steady income of tolls and using these funds to build an extended (rail) transit system to deal with the growing population, or maybe using them to help fix the expressways that are falling down in the main city. It’s why we are massively screwed.