South Florida

SunPass system's maintenance upgrade feels like it's taking longer than expected

The maintenance  upgrade to the SunPass system's website was supposed to be completed by June 11, 2018, but has been delayed, possibly to June 15, 2018.
The maintenance upgrade to the SunPass system's website was supposed to be completed by June 11, 2018, but has been delayed, possibly to June 15, 2018. SunPass website

When SunPass announced a week-long system maintenance update, users expected the Florida electronic toll collection system to be back online Monday.

It was, said SunPass spokesman Chad Huff. Everything is back up and running — transponders, airport parking via SunPass, call centers, he said. But many customers were still having trouble accessing the site on Tuesday.

In a statement, Huff said: "We are aware that many customers are experiencing difficulties accessing the SunPass website, mobile app and telephone system. We anticipated a high volume of customers accessing the system once it came back online; and although the increased demand was anticipated, it was higher than expected."

SunPass had blocked out a period from June 5 to June 11 for an extensive upgrade of its Centralized Customer Service System. The update was intended to consolidate the back-office customer service systems that support Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority and the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority.

But users who attempted to sign on to the website on Monday — and Tuesday — were met with an unusually lengthy time for the site to load. And once loaded, clicking on several of the options, such as the Activate a Transponder feature, often led to a white screen.

Nope, it's not your browser.

"We're bringing in extra resources to help and hope to be back to normal as soon as possible," Huff said. "The problem with access is so many people were trying to call or use the website at peak hours of the day. Once that use spreads out a little bit, combined with the extra resources, everything will get back to normal as soon as possible."

To help with the demand SunPass opened three new walk-in centers. These include:

Miami Walk-In Center, 7902 NW 36th St., Unit 203, in Doral.

Tampa Walk-In Center, 10137 E. Adamo Dr. Ste 800A.

Ocoee Walk-In Center, 9405 W. Colonial Dr., Ocoee.

(The added walk-in centers are open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. The Ocoee branch adds 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday hours.)

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Once we reached a SunPass customer service representative Tuesday afternoon, he acknowledged the upgrade had led to issues getting the site up and running and expected a smoother website operation by Friday.

The customer service rep said that customers who can't log on and who don't have enough money in their SunPass account and don't use the automatic Easy Pay option to replenish an account via deductions from a credit card can call SunPass at 888-865-5352 and replenish that way.

If you don't want to call in — phone service was unreliable on Tuesday — and you have no money in your transponder account you'll be billed using the toll-by-plate feature.

SunPass sensors on the Northbound I-95 Express lanes. Miami Herald file photo / 2008

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Still, some tempers are overheating.

"I bought a car over the weekend and have been trying to sign up online and over the phone for the last three days. I even called MDX and they told me that the SunPass people have the customer service line off the hook. What gives?" one customer from Miami wrote in an email to the Miami Herald Tuesday.

"The website has come back up and is basically useless. New home page address, without redirect or even what new address is," another customer from Weeki Wachee said in an email on Monday.

Huff hears you. Patience, not a commodity in Florida, is requested.

"The services are back up and running," he insists. "We are trying to get caught up with demand and working fast and furious to get there."

Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.