Late Wednesday, unexpectedly, we got the call that we had to be in Miami the following day by 9 am in order to meet a new major distributor for our business products.
Great, and yet not so great, as quick research revealed that the round trip would be about 1225 miles with 18-20 hours driving if we went by road, the preferred option, as we needed to take quite a few sample products with us. We briefly explored the only other travel means, air. This was short-lived as the flight cost alone for two of us ranged anywhere from $1,300 to $2,500!
OK ….choice made…kids taken care of, …….car packed…...and off we went into our overnight drive, all within 90 minutes of the news to go.
After what in fact turned out to be ten hours driving there, ten hours on the ground and eleven hours driving back, we returned to our beds half-dead but satisfied and relieved that we had made a good deal.
Just one puzzle remained up there, over our heads. Sun Pass, turnpikes or toll roads, whichever terminology you care to use for this ‘wonderment’ of the modern age. What the heck is going on with this system?
On the way down, it was pretty dark and the rain was chucking down like no tomorrow so the road signage was far from clear. However, that is no real explanation as to why, all on the same stretch of turnpike on the way down we encountered three separate requirements at three separate points of three differing methods to pay, whilst on the return, up journey, we only incurred a single CASH payment when we came off the turnpike.
We are the first to admit that we are not Americans (we are Europeans resident here) and are therefore not familiar with the Florida system, but we do have turnpikes in Europe that offer the same three options of cash, card or pass at every barrier. So why not in Florida?
At the first toll booth stoppage on the way down the guy asked for the fee but only in cash, no cards or pass. (We’d just used up the last of our cash at a filling station twenty miles before and there was no warning before getting on the turnpike that only cash was accepted. Bizarrely, we now have to send a check for the amount back to Florida within 10 days!)
At the second toll booth, we were advised that we would be ‘Billed by Plate’ and ushered on through. So, presumably, yet another check to be sent back to Florida?
At the third toll, we were waved through without a word of caution or explanation, so who knows?
On the way back no booths were encountered until we came off the turnpike and then the lady there gladly accepted our cash (we had made sure we had some on this journey!)
Pretty much everywhere else in the USA accepts cash, checks and credit cards so why doesn’t the turnpike system accept at least cards? If we had known we might have bought a Sunshine Pass, although probably not. If we had, would the sun have come out? Would we have got a refund as the sun was nowhere to be seen throughout our trip; it was raining day and night.
Ok, not so much a moan as an observation really; why is this system in place? I mean, come on, bill by plate, two lots of postal charge, stationary expenses, then send out a check, not forgetting the admin costs; how’s that economic sense to anyone in this day and age? A credit card swiped in and out, as at the gas stations, takes less than two seconds!
PS. Of note on the brighter side of the trip, we also took our foot lotion bar with us too. It was great to use, very refreshing and much better than the hotel's cheap, chemical and water laden products!
Have a great weekend,
from The Solid Bar Company Team
(what we really needed was one of these)
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