Friday, 15 November 2013

The TReO Trap ( or The Trouble with TReO, not Tribbles)

There is a toll payable for crossing the new Port Mann Bridge. The toll is $3 per SINGLE crossing for a regular sized motor vehicle.  In other words, if you drive to Surrey and back, you owe The Toll collection agency (TReO) six bucks.   They have large signs along the highway "Pay your toll at". "They don't just add it to your car insurance or send invoices?", I thought.

Car insurance for two different cars that I took over that bridge repeatedly had to be renewed. No sign of a demand of any contribution to TReO. But then the day of reckoning arrived.  A letter from TReO.  A bill.  Four surprises.
1) They did not include a license plate number, since they just figured out the car owner.
2) If you go to their website they don't tell you how much you owe. They ask you how much you want to pay. Odd, n'est pas?  There is a reason though ;-)
3)  If you don't pay your crossing within 1 week of crossing, they add $2.30 to the $3.00 toll.  Rather high, you think?  There is method to the madness, just wait.
4) They billed me for 6 crossings, i.e. 3 return trips over the bridge.

Port Mann Bridge

Now we have to look at a hypothetical toll bridge (let's call it Sherry Woman Bridge) somewhere in the fictional province Swedish Mississippi in a fictional country called K'anaTa.  In that country lives an entirely fictional character, and we will call him Bear-Heart.  During his efforts of collecting more bear artifacts and getting out of the ugly city of Exhaustopolis, Bear drives his car quite frequently over the bridge that connects Exhaustopolis to the quieter back country.  Bear drives his car over that bridge quite frequently. He doesn't know how much the toll is, because it is posted nowhere, but Bear assumes it can't be much (He did not think it could be as high as 3 K'anaTa Talers). Then Bear gets a bill from the robber barons controlling the bridge.  But Bear is surprised.  The barons only charge him for between 20 to 50 % of his trips over the bridge.  Bear wasn't even trying to hide himself crossing the valley, but the robber barons still didn't see him on many occasions!
Can the telescopes of the robber barons penetrate the fog on the mystical Sherry Woman Bridge?

So here is my guess what is going on in the country of K'anaTa:  The robber barons want you to register your car with them and put a decal on your window and in return promise you free passage on two occasions.  I guess anything on a windshield is MUCH easier to read by automatic digital cameras than a license plate.  Tailgate a truck and your front license plate is invisible.  Go at night and I doubt they'll use a flash on the bridge. Go in pouring rain and I doubt the software is smart enough to decipher your plate.  Or just get a box of crayons and create license plate art before every trip over the Sherry Woman bridge ;-). Just remember to clean it up before you drive by the next police car.

Is it crystal clear now why the robber barons post friendly signs, don't tell you how often they have seen you crossing their valley, and offer free passage on a few occasions if you promise to carry a widely visible torch with you at all times?

Bear-Heart figured all this out too, and he decided that the extra beating he gets from the robber barons in addition to them taking his money on the occasions when they catch him is still a better deal than carrying that torch all the time and handing over the ransom to the robber barons voluntarily every time he passes over their bridge.

All is well in K'anaTa

You don't have to decide yourself whether Bear-Heart's calculation might work for you too because the Sherry Woman Bride doesn't exist and neither does Bear-Heart, remember?  But on the other hand, there might be situations in your real life that are very similar to the one of Bear-Heart and his frequent escapes from Exhaustopolis ;-)

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