Jesse Jones

Good to Go? Better check your toll bills.

GIG HARBOR, Wash. — Dan Baasch of Gig Harbor and I are going for a ride across the Narrows Bridge to see if the Good to Go tolling system is taking his pocketbook for one, too.

For months, he says, the system has forced him to pay extra for trips because it can’t read his license plate transponder.

“Their equipment doesn’t respond to their own equipment,” says Baasch.

Christina Geery from Belfair says she has the same problem. She’s disputed at least 80 charges and believes her wallet’s being bled out a quarter at a time by the Good to Go system.

“They’re not charging me the right amount.”


“Oh, that’s not the word for it,” says Geery. “Probably disgusted would be the best word for it.”

Baasch and Geery keep getting a 25 cent pay-by-plate fee on their Good to Go accounts. The fee hits when the system has to look up a license plate to find out who to charge.

Those with passes or license plate transponders shouldn’t get the extra charge. But these two commuters say they are getting no quarter from Good to Go.

“Because you know, I mean, a quarter a trip is not that much, but damn! Five twenty-five is a lot to pay for a toll!” says Geery.

Baasch started seeing issues with his account late last year. And now?

“It is now 100 percent not registering any of the tolls across the bridge,” says Baasch. “In February I got notice that two of my disputes had been denied and that this vehicle was to go to their walk-in center.”

He sent us an email confirming just that.

Big problem, though: the walk-in centers are closed. Permanently!

Why do customers have to dispute these charges over and over and over again?

Patricia Michaud is the customer service operations manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation Good to Go program. She says Geery’s issues are not systematic. It’s that they got less than optimal customer service.

“She shouldn’t have had to call multiple times to get her issue resolved. We will address that with the call center,” says Michaud.

Michaud says transponders are tested before they are sent to customers. She adds the problems could be that they are ill-fitting or damaged.

But what about the emails sent to Baasch saying to go to a service center for help?

“That’s incorrect information that, again, we need to — we will train, retrain the person who sent that out,” says Michaud.

According to the state, Good to Go sent about 70 of those emails to customers. It is following up to provide them with correct information and will no longer send that communication.

And Good to Go has a new customer service vendor that started in July. It has a staff of nearly 150 people.

“Our previous vendor had staff that were very, very seasoned. They had been with them for years. The staff that we have today are very new l, and they’re working on their seasoning,” says Michaud.

Bottom line

So here’s what you need to know: those license plate transponders have a 3-year warranty.

“You don’t need to mail them. You just call in, and if the pass is broken, if the pass is not being read,” says Michaud, “we will send out a new plate to the customer and replace it if it’s within that warranty.”

Remember that trip I took with Baasch to see if he’d have to pay the extra fee?

A few days later he checked his account. Yep, he got charged the extra quarter.

Bottom line: Check those bills and let Good To Go — and me — know if there’s a problem. Because there’s no reason to get nickeled, dimed or quartered by the state.

Good to Go says most issues with license plate passes can be avoided with correct installation.

Here’s their advice:

  • Before installing a license plate pass, remove any license plate frame or bracket and do not replace it. These can interfere with the signal between the pass and the system.
  • During installation, position the pass so that it covers the top front of the license plate. Align the screw holes for the pass with the screw holes for the license plate.
  • Make sure to tighten the screws so that the pass is sitting flush against the plate and is firmly connected. Check the screws periodically and tighten as needed.

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