As faithful readers of this blog know, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have a "FasTrak" toll tag in my car--one of those little boxes you stick on your windshield, enabling you to zip through toll lanes at bridges and tunnels. The toll tag is linked to a bank account, so I get e-mail updates whenever the balance on the toll tag is replenished, historically twenty-five dollars at a time. Today, however, I received a notice that, based on my patterns of usage, FasTrak was now going to debit eighty dollars at a time from my account when my available balance drops below some predetermined level.
Annoying? Sort of. In the long run, though, this makes little difference: After all, this just means that, instead of being charged $25 every five days or so, I'll be charged eighty dollars roughly every two to three weeks. What was disturbing, though, was that I saw an e-mail from my BANK before I saw the e-mail from the folks at FasTrak, which meant I was taken aback by the new debiting scheme. More disturbing was the fact that there was a typo in this notice. So, instead of seeing a charge to "FasTrak Oakland"--as I've come to expect--I saw eighty dollars going to "FasTrak Orkland." Whether this meant money was going to a Tolkien-esque Wonderland or to Mork's old home planet, I knew not. Either way, I thought this boded ill.
And the day got progressively worse from there.