The Not-So-EZ Pass

Nov 28, 2005

RAY: This next puzzler is quasi-automotive. It came from a fellow named Alex Schoen. Evidently this little letter was in a major newspaper a few years ago. Alex says, "due to copyright issues, you may want to change the names. But by the time you read it in 20 years, it probably won't matter."

Here's the letter:

"After moving to Nashville from New York recently, it occurred to me that I no longer had a pressing use for my EZ Pass."

(EZ Pass is the electronic transponder that allows you to go through tunnels and over bridges without having to stop and pay currency at tolls.)

The letter continues, "Following the EZ Pass instructions, I filled out a few forms and dropped my pass off at UPS, destination Staten Island Service Center.
"Two weeks passed, and I received my normal EZ Pass e-mail statement. I entered my account and, lo and behold, my recently surrendered pass had been used by someone driving all over the New York Metro area! I was incensed!

"I immediately called EZ Pass and informed them that someone had stolen my pass. I explained that I had mailed the pass and now someone was running up my bill and I didn't know why.

"The representative on the other end of the phone explained everything."
RAY: It was in the UPS truck. Every time the truck went through a toll, he got charged. Until it actually got delivered to its destination it may have gone across bridges, through tunnels, and so on. It could have cost them 600 bucks!

TOM: But who had to pay?

RAY: We'll find out. I don't know. Do we have a winner?

TOM: Yeah, we do, the winner is Ed Novratil from Los Angeles. And for having his answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Ed's going to get a 26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at

And with this gift certificate he can log on and do all of his holiday shopping without ever having to endure the inconvenience of interacting with an actual human.

Among the new items you can order this season at is the two CD set, the "Best of Car Talk," volumes 1 and 2, now together in one ugly package, and we wonder why we never sell any of this stuff. I think it's the pitchmen that kill us.

RAY: I think so.

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