TAMPA BAY, Fla. -- A clause in the state's contract for its mismanaged SunPass system overhaul could give drivers some relief from backlogged bills due to hit Florida mailboxes at some point in the future.
However, FDOT says the contractor, which the state doesn't yet trust to deliver accurate toll-by-plate (TBP) invoices, is doing just enough to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in June and July tolls it has yet to charge customers.
TBP customers are expected to get hit with more than six months of bills all at once. It has been 180 days since SunPass last was fully-functional.
Sec. 2.44 of FDOT’s contract with Conduent requires the contractor to "terminate billing and/or processing" of any TBP transaction where the processing had not been initiated within 120 days. "The Contractor shall not attempt to collect these amounts from the Customer."
The clause seemingly provides liquidated damages for the state in the case of contractor failure, as well as insurance for customers who might otherwise get hit with charges so old, they are neither expecting them nor can they verify the validity of the invoices.
However, an attorney for FDOT told 10Investigates in an email Tuesday, "Toll-By-Plate processing was initiated. Customers utilizing toll facilities are responsible for the tolls incurred. While transactions continue to be processed, the Department is working with the vendor to ensure Toll-By-Plate invoices are correct."
FDOT says it cannot yet be sure invoices are correct, so they still are unable to send accurate bills out to customers.
A 10Investigates estimate indicates the state likely processes more than $20 million in TBP transactions a month.
FDOT says late fees and penalties will continue to be waived for customers who need time to pay off backlogged bills, and they will have several months to pay down their TBP invoices whenever the state is able to send them out.
Conduent's political connections are well-documented by 10Investigates; on Tuesday, the company's top Florida lobbyist was named the inaugural chair for Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis.
If you are a Florida driver with concerns or problems related to SunPass disruptions, contact 10Investigates’ Noah Pransky confidentially at email@example.com. Or join the ongoing SunPass conversation on his Facebook page. And let him know who you think should be held accountable.
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►To reach SunPass customer service, call 1-888-865-5352 or click here.