So, as many other Gauteng residents, I have received my first etoll bills…
I was still living in Grahamstown when I first about this ‘etoll’ business, it didn’t impact on my Grahamstown bubble at the time and then it was delayed, so I forgot about it. Then came 2013 and my move to Johannesburg, where I went under my first gantry. Now South Africans are not stupid, and to me it was clear as day that those damn things have most definitely not been built cost effectively. So there was my (and many others) first issue with this, regardless of whether or not I believe in the ‘user pays’ principle, I am not going to pay more because Sanral and the Department of Transport are cost-inefficient and erect first world gantries in a third world country, at a first world expense. Secondly, there is the issue that a foreign company will be making the profits from running this system. The government’s excuse that this is due to a lack of local capabilities does not wash with me, we are a developing country, so lets develop those capabilities! And I could carry on, but rather let’s have a look at how ‘efficiently’ Sanral is now running the show.
I was very cynical and sceptical about this etoll business from the start. I don’t see the government and Sanral being able to properly run and enforce such a system on a public that has clearly voiced their disagreement to this…plus considering government’s other inefficiencies I did rather hope it would spread to this, and their bullying of the Gauteng public foiled… and so that fact that they have screwed up, as I predicted, does give me some degree of satisfaction if I am to be honest.
Here is my etoll bill.
Here are my issues:
1. According to the etoll calculator, without registering for an etag, as a light passenger vehicle, my first toll charge should have come to 10.45 BOTH WAYS discounted by 2.71 as it was December 16th and thus a public holiday. Instead it is R13.41 and R19.14 with no public holiday discounts, higher then if I was a non-registered user in a ‘light heavy vehicle’ (i.e. small trucks) (I should also insert here that the types of vehicles are determined by length, according to the etoll website, and my car is a VW Polo Hatchback…)
2. I wasn’t in Joburg on the 19th December as the December 16th trip had been to the airport, and yet apparently my car was on the N1 near Beccleuch (which I live no where near) late on the night of the 19th, and I have again been charged higher than listed rates.
3. My car is registered to Grahamstown and thus the bill only reached there AFTER the date after which penalties are threatened…
So today I phoned the Sanral customer care line (0800 726725, you have to phone more than once as the first time I was told the number didn’t exist, even though it does…) and my conversation went something like this:
(after they check the bill reference number and your car details)
‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “Your bill comes to R127.76″
Me: “Um, the copy I have only says R101.67″
‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “…” (silence)
Me: “Anyway, that’s not why I called, I have some problems with the amounts charged”
‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “If you are not a registered user you will be charged double”
Me: “Ok, but when I use your etoll calculator as a nonregistered user, my amounts should still be a lot lower”
‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “Have you registered?”
Me: (keeping patient) “No”
‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “Oh, then you are charged triple per trip”
Me: (now somewhat incredulous and humouring this woman) “Ok, but these amounts are still higher than that”
‘Friendly’ etoll Sanral Lady: “Then you must write it out in an email and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org”
Me: “Um, ok, thanks”
–End of most amazing conversation ever–
So I sent off an email. I got this automated response:
Please find correspondence attached regarding your e-toll account.
You may contact us on 0800 SANRAL (726 725) or www.sanral.co.za should you require any further assistance or have difficulty viewing the attachment.
We thank you for your patronage and continued support.
We’ll see where that goes. e-toll.
So, Sanral, your move, I am not paying this amount, and I am not buying an etag, I don’t condone bullying.
And the moral of the story is, check that bill before paying it, there may be more than one inaccuracy. And when there is, don’t pay!