Saturday, April 26, 2008

Did I mention I hate being “Nickel & Dimed”

In this electronic age, it is easy to be “Nicked & Dimed” by all of the institutions that you conduct business with; credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions, etc…With so many companies having access to your account information, I suggest you get in the habit of reviewing in detail one account per month. This due diligence will ensure that you are not letting valuable dollars negatively impact your net worth without you knowing about it.

My recent experience is almost embarrassing to mention, but I will do this in hopes of saving the same mistake for my readers. The culprit is the E-Z Pass company. Here is a brief description from their website about the services the company provides:

“E-ZPass is a remarkable toll collection technology that makes traveling more convenient, helps you save money through discount plans offered by many toll facilities, and helps reduce traffic congestion for everyone.

Conventional toll collection methods require you to deposit coins, tickets, and tokens at toll plazas. This challenges highway capacity because the number of vehicles that can be processed at toll plazas is limited.

With E-ZPass’ electronic toll collection (ETC) technology, account information on an electronic tag installed in your car is read by a receiving antenna at the toll plaza. The toll is electronically deducted from your prepaid toll account. Not only does E-ZPass make toll collection more convenient for you, it helps achieve a number of benefits for everyone.

E-ZPass offers you a number of different benefits:
· saves you money through automatic discount programs on many E-ZPass facilities.
· can process 250 to 300 percent more vehicles per lane, thus reducing toll plaza delays and traffic congestion.
· helps to reduce congestion and reduce auto emissions.
· helps reduce fuel consumption.”

With so many benefits and living in the NJ area, how could I say no. To date, I have been an E-Z Pass customer for about 6 years or so. From the very beginning, I have provided my credit card information so that I can fund my prepaid account. Once my prepaid account drops to a minimal level, the company processes an automatic charge to bring up my prepaid balance.

Along with providing my credit card info, I decided to signup for a local discount program in which I would receive discounted tolls for the PA/NJ/NY bridges. This was a great way to save some additional cash. The great thing about EZ Pass, when I moved out of the area, I was still able to use the EZ Pass technology in my new area. I was aware and accepted the $1/month fee the company charges each customer for the above benefits.

Little did I know that I was paying an additional $8.50 for an inactive fee for the PA/NJ/NY bridge plan that I originally signed up for….So when I changed by my address to about 400 miles away, the company didn’t feel the need to change any of my discounted plans. I take full responsibility for not remembering to delete this plan, but as I am going through the history the amounts of these extra fees over the last year these charges are really adding up. I would like to personally thank the company for looking out for their customers. (sarcasm)

Please take this advice and make sure you double-check all of your charges. I know it is easy to let a few months pass you by and have everything on auto-pilot, but the effort that you put into this exercise will pay significant dividends in your long-term financial health.

E-Z Pass company website

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