finally, a bit for the greater good

i’m doing this for a couple reasons…

…first and foremost, ’cause i needed a bit for today.

but also, i went through something not as terribly unpleasant as i expected and when i googled it i could only find bullshit horror stories (that were, in fact, rooted in bullshit) and copious ads for law firms.

especially that last one.

so, without further ado, let me throw out the first of many phrases i hope will get people googling this shit to read this bit:

so you’re getting taken to court by the toll road people?

i did – and i was a little surprised. the only reason it was “a little” was because i knew i owed them money, and that we GREATLY differed on what the amount should be. you run up a hundred buck’s worth of tolls, then with fees it’s over a grand QUICK. that’s just not right. so when i got a letter at the tail end of the summer saying i owed them just over five large i thought, “yeah, good luck!”. i knew i didn’t have the money, and i was behind on most of my bills due to some unforeseen car issues, but the letter ended with the ominous line “…after the date below this account will roll to collections and we will no longer be able to help you resolve this matter.”

in this economy we all know how that goes – a few months later you get a note from a collection’s agency saying that your $5,000.00 debt is now $6,000.00 because you are now dealing with them, but you can pay $3,000.00 in one payment, or $4,500.00 over a few months and settle up. and it getting to that stage usually takes another year, so i figured i’d just deal with that at the end of THIS summer when i got that letter…

…but instead i got contacted by travis county, precinct one, justice of the peace who sent me a notice of “pre-trial”.

you can’t find a lot on the term “pre-trial” online because it’s pretty literal – you’re not on trial YET, but you could be if you don’t play nice. i also googled the JoP that contacted me (lovely picture on her county bio – those braids took some damn TIME!) and what the difference was between a JoP and a judge in texas – the biggest was the former could only preside over cases with no risk of jail time and no money pile larger than $10,000.00…

…i didn’t know how close to that line i was.

they are (sadly) within their rights to file a separate case against you for each individual toll you didn’t pay, but “so they won’t bog down the courts” they don’t. my five grand and some change had ballooned (i assume due to other unpaid tolls ’cause at that point i just said, “fuck it”) to $9,027.73 (i told you i was close to that ten g line) but they settled for under $2,500.00 paid out, interest free, over up to sixty months (i.e. $40 a month) which, if you note, was less than half what they had been demanding in august…

…it should be noted that more than half that number is still fees, however.

but the bottom line? they WILL work with you, and i doubt you racked up the kind of ridiculous number i did. and after that, i will trust i am balanced out nicely (save for any current shit, which was paid at the tail end of january). there are also some small court costs (under $175) that are paid in two installments as well, and then all charges are dropped. yes, believe it or not, this counts as a misdemeanor on your record.

so given the horror stories i read online (at least collections can’t call you in jail) or from a panicky friend (they just seize your car) it’s not too bad an experience – and going through it taught me not to let that shit happen again. as for the lawyers, they can’t get you any better deal than what i was offered (per the toll road reps i talked to) and they cost you a grand of their own fees…flat rate. fuck that – represent yourself.

unfortunately this public service bit doesn’t reduce my balance with TXDoT, but if it helps somebody out there not freak their balls off when they get the letter like i did, it was well worth the time – even though my notebook locked up and i had to type it twice…

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