The debacle

This is the tale of my online experience in paying my NTTA ZipCash statement which appears below

I chose to use the online method to pay my invoice.  Notice the line at the top about how $11.71 will turn into $286.71 if I don’t drop everything and deal with this.  So, I dropped everything to deal with it.

I went to http://www.ntta.org where I found a web page where I clicked Customer Service.  So far so good.  Since it was a ZipCash Invoice I received it made sense to me to fill in the information required to “Pay with ZipCash”.  So far, so good.  Filled in the Account ID, Invoice ID and License Plate information which was all conveniently located on the invoice.  Whoops! “Invalid login or password to check invoices.”  As you can see, the Pay with ZipCash thingy says nothing about logging into my account.  But no problemo since I have an account.  Logged in and got my Account page. Things begin to get a bit dodgey at this point.  My Account page has no links (I clicked all 14 of them with the exception of the “espanol” link) to allow navigation to a place where I can pay my ZipCash invoice and the invoice doesn’t appear anywhere in my list of current charges.  Oh my!  What to do?  Well, I tried navigating back to “Home” page but NTTA has now determined that my Account Home Page is the Home page (not the page you land on when you go to ntta.org which is somewhat unconventional) and won’t let me.  So I tried the “back” button.  Nope.  Now the “Webpage has expired”.  So I refreshed the page and was again looking at my Account page.  When all else fails, try clicking the “help” button.  Unsurprisingly the “help” page offers no help whatsoever in solving my problem.  It is evidently not humanly possible to pay a ZipCash invoice on the NTTA web site.

The chimpanzees who were responsible for the User Interface on this site were, no doubt, either the lowest bidders or bureaucrats on staff at NTTA.  Or maybe they’re related to someone important.  No matter the particulars,  they clearly got no feedback whatsoever from users outside their own cages.  The optimistically titled “help” page is a real joke.  It contains not a single character of text which could, in any way, be considered “help”.  It is, in fact, a typical FAQ page even though one of the headings on it is titled FAQs.  This is the stupidest web site I have seen.  But why should they care?  If you don’t manage to find a way to pay your bill they arrange egregious fines and jail time for you with the help of your State Representatives.  Its as though they would rather not make it easy to pay so that they can gouge their own customers.  You might think it makes no sense to gouge your own customers because they’d take their business elsewhere.  Think again.  There is no place else to go.  They have a monopoly.  A monopoly legalized by your Texas State Representatives and the thumb-sucking bureaucrats who work in some “commission”.  No doubt appointed to their positions based upon who they’re related to or how many votes they accounted for or how much their daddy gave to the campaign….

I guess I’ll call and pay over the phone.

So, just to follow through all the way to the end on this issue I’d like to tell you how my phone payment went.  I called and the agent was able to immediately find my invoice and verify that I had a valid Toll Tag account for the entire period covered by the invoice.  Fine.  Why then did I get a ZipCash invoice in the first place?  It turns out that the system which reads Toll Tags has a 5% failure rate.  That means that, on average, 5% of the time it fails to record your Toll Tag.  And that failure results in a ZipCash invoice.  AT THE 50% HIGHER RATE CHARGED TO ZIPCASH CUSTOMERS.  So if I hadn’t called they wouldn’t have discounted my invoice to reflect the validity of my Toll Tag and the failure of their system.  Instead, I got invoiced at the 50% higher rate and they warned me in BIG BOLD TEXT of the serious consequences associated with not paying the invoice in a timely manner.  Nowhere on the invoice am I told how to deal with it if the problem is their failure.  If this weren’t a quasi-government organization the Texas Attorney General would be all over them.  This all goes to show that there is truth to the expression “You can’t fight City Hall”.  They are a pack of corrupt thieves backed by an armed police force, and we’re complaining about the corruption in Mexico.  Hah!



  1. You Can’t Fight City Hall – or any other bureaucracy. 9.9.10 / 12pm

    […] so that I know it has been properly posted.  I attempted that this morning.  Here you can read debacle in complete […]

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I’ve put this site up as a repository for my thoughts on various subjects.  Most of these entries will appear on another one of my blogs, or maybe on someone else’s.  I would love it if you would comment on the posts, dispute what is said, provide alternative views or recommend resources for learning more about the topic.  Unfortunately because of the blog-spam-weasels, comments will require my approval.  Our views will not always be calibrated (to properly use the word) and that’s ok with me – I hope it is with you too.  Those of you who know me know that I am respectful of the opinions and views of others.  You also know that I expect demand reciprocity. Relevant comments will be published regardless of the viewpoint expressed as long as they are not (in my opinion) hate-filled or libelous.  Think of this site as a salon hosted by me in my home – please be both passionate and polite.