Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's Not About the Money

Today in the mail I got a notice from E-Z Pass that I ran a tollbooth in Maryland a couple of weeks ago. I was livid as I read this, as I know quite well that I didn't run the toll -- either the machine malfunctioned or the attendant didn't signal to the machine that I paid. If I pay within 30 days, there's no fine, so with the stamp I'm only on the hook for $2.41. That means that the rage I felt was way out of proportion to the inconvenience I'm now facing. All the same, I don't think my anger was an overreaction -- this letter all but accuses me of stealing!

The letter also claims that they have me on videotape -- somehow I'd wager that the tape is focused on the red/green light rather than the tollbooth (which may support their accusation), so it doesn't include the interaction that I had with the attendant, or show whether money exchanged hands. It was the first toll on the trip up to Wilmington to get Kathy, and the funny thing is that I remember that particular exchange -- I gave the attendant a $20, and he said all he had were ones. I either said or thought something to the effect, "That's ok -- they're going to be used to pay the rest of the tolls."

So is it worth trying to fight over two dollars and forty-one cents? Given the principle involved, I think it's worth making a phone call before I send the money. But principle or not, it probably isn't worth any more effort than that.