Bill Nelson calls for federal investigation into troubled SunPass contractor


  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the troubled vendor responsible for a backlog of 170 million unprocessed SunPass toll transactions.

In a letter sent to FTC chairman Joseph Simons, Nelson and Michigan Sen. Gary Peters accused Conduent State & Local Solutions of violating federal laws that prohibit unfair and deceptive trade practices. The Florida Department of Transportation suspended payments to Conduent after a $287 million upgrade resulted in the toll system being down for nearly a month. Nelson and Peters, both Democrats, say Conduent has "billed consumers with wrongful toll charges, late fees and penalties, oftentimes imposing considerable financial harm."

"Conduent’s pattern of mismanaging cashless toll systems is deeply troubling and warrants further scrutiny," the letter states. "If drivers are being hurt financially, the FTC should hold the company accountable and prevent it from doing further harm."

Before contracting with Florida in 2015, the New Jersey firm had a troubled past in states like Texas, California, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Michigan. The Tampa Bay Times reports after Conduent charged Texas drivers erroneously, the company was forced to pay $200,000 and underwent an ethics investigation.

In their letter, Nelson and Peters say Conduent's mismanagement could be considered "unfair" under federal laws that prohibit conduct that causes substantial harm, cannot be reasonably avoided by consumers, and is not outweighed by other benefits to consumers or to competition.

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