Key lawmaker wants to stop toll 'inactivity' fee

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by ROBERT MAK / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 1, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 1 at 7:29 PM

SEATTLE -- Haven't used your Good-to-Go pass yet?  You may want to watch out for the state's "inactivity fee."

If you don't incur any tolls after 24 months, the state will close your account.  You're entitled to a refund, but not before the state deducts $5 for "inactivity."

 

"There's still costs associated to managing those accounts, we really want people who have accounts to be users of the facility," said Patty Rubstello, Toll Development Director for the state Transportation Department.
 
But some state lawmakers were not pleased to learn of the fee.  
 
"The five dollar administrative fee is too large, it's not legal, at least in my opinion," said Rep. Ross Hunter.
 
Seven years ago, Hunter sponsored the bill making it illegal for gift cards to expire.  At the time, people were upset that retailers were charging inactivity fees that automatically reduced the value of gift cards.
 
"What's good for the goose is good for the gander, in this case, and if we're not going to let private vendors do it, I'm not sure why we would do the same thing," said Hunter.
 
WSDOT says the inactivity fee was introduced with tolling on the Narrows Bridge.  Rubstello says drivers are warned after 18 months of inactivity on their account.
 
Some drivers who signed up early for 520 tolling may be hitting that 18-month mark pretty soon.
 
While the state delayed the start of tolling on 520, the clock on inactivity kept ticking from the time drivers opened accounts.
 
"True, yes, it does, but presumably most of those people that signed up anticipate and expect to use 520," said Rubstello.
 
Rubstello says if you're not using your "Good-to-Go" account, you can avoid inactivity fees by closing your account early or incurring a toll on 520, the Narrows Bridge or 167.  
 
Alternatively, you can add money to your account.  That's considered "activity," though you'd be putting more money into an account you haven't used.
 

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