1. Business

SunPass contractor promises to fix backlog but gives no timeline

Cars pass through the Sun Pass and change provided toll lanes at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge toll booth plaza in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times]
Published Jul. 12, 2018

The contractor for Florida's troubled SunPass electronic tolling system promised to make sure all SunPass customers are billed correctly, in a letter sent to the Florida Department of Transportation.

But in the letter sent Tuesday, David Amoriell, the president of the contractor, Conduent State & Local Solutions, Inc., did not set a timeline for when the SunPass problems that have persisted since June 1 would be fixed.

FDOT secretary Mike Dew in a June 28 letter had given Conduent until today to address its inability to process SunPass charges and correct problems with customer service technology.

RELATED COVERAGE: FDOT gives SunPass contractor 10 days to account for toll problems

Amoriell said in his letter that Conduent is communicating daily with FDOT and Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, which oversees SunPass, and promised weekly updates on the project.

Kim Poulton, spokeswoman for the turnpike agency, said in an email on Tuesday that Florida will continue to hold Conduent accountable for the delays it has caused.

"(FDOT) will be enforcing all penalty clauses of the contract to the maximum extent possible," Poulton said.

On Monday, July 9, the Tampa Bay Times filed a public records request to obtain a copy of the original contract between Conduent (formerly part of Xerox Corp.) and FDOT from 2015 and view the penalty clauses. FDOT Communications Director Ed Seifert sent the 1,575-page contract to the Times Thursday afternoon, after this initial story was published.

Seifert said the state wouldn't decide how to deal with Conduent's responsibility for the SunPass troubles until after the Thursday deadline.

"After that point, we'll have a better idea of how to move forward," Seifert said.

Conduent has started chipping away at the backlog of at least 100 million charges, processing the older charges at a faster rate than SunPass customers pass through the toll booths every day. According to an FTE news release, the contractor had processed more than 28 million of the pending charges as of Wednesday and will continue to process at least 8 million charges each day.

"We will commit that customers will not be overcharged," Amoriell said in the letter.

Amoriell said Conduent has already made "substantial improvements" to fix the month-long issues. Its customer service website has been updated and Conduent has sent letters to customers notifying them of multiple charges that were inaccurately posted to their accounts. SunPass' problems also prevented customers from being able to pay for parking at Tampa International Airport, but Amoriell said that has been fixed.

Conduent said it has also hired 40 new staff members to process the remaining unprocessed charges and has upgraded customer service training and technology to handle increased calls.

Contact Hannah Denham at Follow @hannah_denham1.

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