Money Mailbox Friday – Letter from the Citations Department

by David Ning · 15 comments

Yesterday, I received a notice from the rental car company telling me that I didn’t pay toll on one of the toll booths in Chicago, Illinois.  Didn’t pay toll?  I would never skip that and I live in Southern California.

As my blood started pumping faster and I was beginning to fill with anger, I remembered one thing “Maybe it was the customer visit I had in May”.  I read further and got to this line: “Citation Date: 05/08/2008”.  Doh…

On the letter, it says that it’s actually the government that caught it so the letter was only to notify me that they called the citations department to change the responsibility to me and also to charge me a $15 administrative fee.  I called Alamo and to my surprise, the lady was willing to waive the $15 fee (I guess they were never expecting anyone to pay).

She also told me that the government will be mailing me a letter citing the charge and asked me to wait for the letter to come.  “That will take 8 weeks” she says, I say “Great………”

To this minute, I still cannot figure out why I would miss a whole toll booth.  The date seems to be reasonable, but I do not remember running pass a toll booth at all.  After much thought, the only thing I can think of is that I paid and didn’t wait for the green light to notify me that they received payment.

At this point, I don’t even know how much the charges will be.  Those tolls are nothing more than $1, so hopefully the penalty is not that much.

What Good Came Out of This?

I did learn a few things after this incident though.

  • Be patient and always wait for the green signal before leaving the toll booth
  • Always call the number on the citation notice to get clarification
  • Always ask for a discount (they might even waive the fee)

Now I wait.  Hopefully the citation from the government will come soon and I can put all this behind me.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Rod says:

    Yep, the scam keeps rolling on. Chicago out of O’Hare. I wonder if I can find the website for Attorney General Lisa Madigan to investigate them.

    Has anyone contested the service charge to their credit card?

  • Bill says:

    I got a notice that I had missed a $1.25 toll in Florida. I have a Florida Sunpass unit that I had in the car. Sometimes the booth doesn’t read the signal correctly so doesn’t deduct the toll. You only slow to 25 going through the toll gate with these things so you’re out the other side before you realize there’s a problem.

    It’s impossible to get through on their 800 number, always get the message that they are swamped, call back. They don’t give an e mail address. I’m just going to reject the charge when they try to post it to my charge card account.

    I’m certainly not going to pay a $10 fee because the Sunpass toll reader didn’t work at one toll station. (It worked at all the others.)

  • Gilberto says:

    Please, anyone there could inform me the Citations Department ALAMO correct e-mail address. This e-mail “citations@vanguardcard.com” did not work.

    • Terry Webster says:

      I just talked to Alamo yesterday. I had used my E-ZPass and it showed up on the report that I did pay the toll. It had the date and time to verify. I talked to Kevin. Very rude and sassy. I asked if they would pay me the admin fee because I had to get the report to prove I paid. No and if the call was going to go this way the charge may show up on my charge card. He gave me an address to write to. 8421 St John Industrial Dr. St Louis Missouri 63114
      I have a feeling they are making a lot of money on this scam. He didn’t want to see my report to prove I paid it. The number I called was 1 800 935-0112. Good luck..

  • MoneyNing says:

    Thanks Jules,

    I called and on to calling the Illinois Tollway since they said they transferred it.

    The number (for those that need it) is:
    1-800-824-7277

  • Jules @ Lovely Las Vegas says:

    The contact information for Alamo Citations Department:

    Phone 1.800.859.4140
    Fax: 1.918.401.8111
    Email: citations@vanguardcard.com

    I would recommend calling, though. Even though the wait was long for me, I think it is easier to ask for and be granted a fee waiver over the phone. Probably via email they will just say the fee is policy and procedure and related to the contract. On the phone, especially if you are nice but express your frustration because you can’t imagine missing a toll, they will want to keep you as a satisfied customer.

    Now if we could only resolve what ever is going down with the Chicago Tolls so no one else has to deal with this craziness. Hehe.

  • MoneyNing says:

    Jules: Good for you. I’m glad you called them. Now I don’t even know what’s happening with mine 🙂 What’s the number to call so I (and others) will know when they visit the page?

  • Jules @ Lovely Las Vegas says:

    I got it waived, too : ). Apparently, they said there are certain tolls in Chicago that require you to get off the freeway to pay the toll and then you get back on to continue your trip. They are not well marked so many people neglect to follow the toll route because it doesn’t really make sense or doesn’t seem applicable since you want to be on the freeway (why would you get off your route?).

    Our “violation” occurred 45 minutes after we got the vehicle, so maybe it was something like that — since I definitely know we pay every toll we come to and wait for the green light. I’m pretty cautious about that. With 5 days renting a car, we didn’t incur any other toll violations, so it must be something crazy like that.

  • Jules @ Lovely Las Vegas says:

    MoneyNing: Did you ever get the letter from the government agency regarding this?

    I just received a notice from Alamo today regarding the same thing … they want to charge $15 for an “unpaided” toll in Chicago, Illinois as well. I was there back in 2007 (over 1.5 years ago.) and so I think this is from that time. But I consider myself a cautious driver. And I know I won’t just drive through the toll, either. So I guess maybe it is the green light thing? But that, too, is odd, because I am aware of such stuff.

    So I should call Alamo directly?

  • danandmarsh says:

    Grrrrr. Huh? Can’t wait to hear what the charge is. Yeah that’s probably what you did, was take off before the green light came on. Make sure you let us know when ya get it. I am anixous to find out the charge.

    Lesson learned.

  • MoneyNing says:

    Joe: I hope so too.

    No Debt Plan: I will keep everyone updated.

    JB: Wow $80… I certainly don’t look forward to that but I also want to get the receipt quickly and get this resolved soon.

  • marci says:

    It slows down things, but you can always ask for a receipt also 🙂

  • JB says:

    I had a friend experience this recently. His fee was around $80. In Chicago it’s real easy to go around with traffic through the quick pass or whatever it’s called.

  • No Debt Plan says:

    Interesting… sucks, but I would be interested to find out what the fee is.

  • Joe says:

    Oh no. I hope everything is okay.

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