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A Hummel Report Investigation

Overwhelming Response

A promotional campaign tied to the start of tolling on the Sakonnet River Bridge was a huge success - and then some. But the 23,000 orders for discounted EZ Pass transponder caused a huge backlog. This week, Jim Hummel talks with one of the buyers who turned to us when he couldn't get through to the Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority to ask about shipping delays. We have his story and an explanation for the delays.

SCRIPT

Radio Ad: ``There's an easy way to make sure you pay the lowest tolls in Rhode Island.''
You probably have heard this ad on the radio over the past month.
Radio ad: ``Beginning June 25th, they're discounting transponders to just $10.''
Half-price - plus another $10 credit toward the tolls - making the purchase virtually free. It was a promotional offer geared toward the start of the highly-publicized tolling on the new Sakonnet River Bridge.
And it was an offer that Lou Najjar couldn't pass up.
Najjar: ``I was taking advantage of the ad on the radio to get them less than half price what you normally pay for them - and plus you get a $10 credit in your account towards the tolls - so it was a sweet deal and I took advantage of it.''
Najjar - who lives in Cumberland - wasn't really concerned about the Sakonnet River Bridge tolls. He wanted a transponder because he was driving to Florida to visit family.
Najjar: It was about 2 1/2 weeks later. I didn't receive anything in the mail and I tried to call and the phone would just ring and ring. I sent a couple of emails and there was no replies''
Darlington: `` Clearly we should have answered the phone. Clearly we should have gotten back to him.''
Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority Chairman David Darlington said the advertising campaign was a huge success - and then some.
Darlington: ``There was some pent up demand for folks that wanted to get  EZ Pass anyway and probably thought there would be some sort of arrangement and offer when new tolling came on line. It's an excuse but the excuse is we were a little overwhelmed by what happened. We've added and added and added; and it's grown and grown and grown so we haven't been able to quite keep up.''

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