Bad news for Florida drivers: big backlogged SunPass bills on the way

Those 417,000 invoices don’t even represent all of the drivers who are due to get backlogged bills. 

The Florida Department of Transportation says it doesn’t know how many Florida drivers are opening their mailboxes to some big, backlogged SunPass bills this month — but they confirm it’s a lot.

During one seven-day period in January, FDOT spokesperson Ann Howard said the state sent out more than 417,000 toll-by-plate bills to drivers, their first bills in at least seven months following the failed SunPass system upgrade in June that was supposed to last just six days.

But those 417,000 invoices don’t even represent all of the drivers who are due to get backlogged bills.

Even though FDOT says it is now finally capable of sending accurate invoices, Howard says the department is choosing not to send them all immediately, so as not to overwhelm its customer service staff.

Hold times for calls to the SunPass customer service center, now operated by private corporation Conduent, exceeded four hours at one point in late summer, as frustrated drivers encountered unexpected toll bills, account errors and even compromised accounts.

FDOT finally provided the new toll-by-plate information after several months of unfulfilled public records requests. The department said it began mailing backlogged toll invoices to customers Jan. 3, and will likely continue to send out hundreds of thousands a week until the backlog is cleared.

Gov. Rick Scott launched an internal inspector general’s investigation into the SunPass debacle in August, but only after WTSP-TV pressed the governor several times on his lack of action. There has been no indication when — or if — that report will be finished and if it will be made public.

Neither former Gov. Scott not current Gov. Ron DeSantis have done much to hold Conduent — or any of the FDOT employees overseeing the project — accountable; the state halted Conduent’s payments on the SunPass contract, but continues to pay it on other deals.

Scott and DeSantis both have close ties to Brian Ballard, a top GOP fundraiser and lobbyist for Conduent. Public disclosures also reveal Scott has financial ties to the company, and the founder of Conduent, Darwin Deason, has donated to both Scott and DeSantis.

FDOT fined Conduent $800,000 on its $343 million contract, but has not taken the opportunity to issue stiffer fines.

A clause in Conduent’s FDOT contract suggests the company must pay drivers’ tolls that cannot be properly billed within four months. But the state has maintained drivers — not Conduent — should pay the tens of millions of dollars in old charges that are now just being invoiced.

Noah Pransky

Noah Pransky is a multiple award-winning investigative reporter, most recently with the CBS affiliate in Tampa. He’s uncovered major stories such as uncovering backroom deals in the Tampa Bay Rays stadium and other political investigations. Pransky also ran a blog called Shadow of the Stadium, giving readers a deep dive into the details of potential financial deals and other happenings involving the Tampa Bay- area sports business.


  • Larry Glinzman

    January 26, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Is your advertiser, Shutts law firm, interested in a class action lawsuit against the Expressway Authority. Thousands of SunPass customers would join it.

  • Arizzo

    January 29, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    I got one – but guess what? it wasn’t even my SUV – it was not me.. I was at work 1hr north of the toll and.. I never go on the turnpike (where it said I was). The vehicle looked simuliar at first glance, but looking at my SUV compared to the picture – it was not it. In fact the plate that they showed on my SUV was actually the plate that is on my husbands car. This is very shady in my opinion. Any one that gets one of these in the mail – please read it carefully and make sure its even you or your vehicle.

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