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Home » Illinois, Life in America » My Hinky Illinois I-Pass, Part 2

My Hinky Illinois I-Pass, Part 2

Posted on Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 at 11:20 am CET

(see part 1 for the beginning of this saga) It’s been over three weeks since I was instructed by the Illinois I-Pass service desk to send my I-Pass back. I had received it in the mail last month after ordering it online, but the activation code and account number were missing. When I called the service desk at the end of last month they told me to send it back and they’d send a new one. I included a cover letter explaining what happened. After three weeks I had still not heard back from them. I called them yesterday and this time another person, who seemed be more knowledgeable than the first one, explained to me that I-Passes ordered online are already activated! She put me on hold for about 15 minutes as she searched for my I-Pass and letter, but never found it. She was surprised that I didn’t understand that I-Passes ordered online are already activated and told me that I should not have sent it back. WTH?!

  1. The I-Pass I received in the mail included a flyer that specifically said that new transponders need to be activated online or by phone before use;
  2. The website says that new transponders need to be activated;
  3. When I called and gave them my details, which they then looked up in the computer, they told me it needed to be activated.

So how could I have possibly known that it was already activated? I surely don’t start driving around with the thing unsure if it’s activated or not?!

In any case, the person I spoke with yesterday promised to send me a check with my $50 back and instructed me to order another one online or just go to Jewel and buy one there.

Well I sure as heckfire am not going to order another one online, so I went over to our local Jewel-Osco in Round Lake Beach and bought one there. This time I got a nice little box, which seems a lot less dodgy than the brown envelope with foil that I received last time:


The transponder even has an activation code on it! Nice!

This morning I went to the I-Pass website and activated the I-Pass online. It says:

Your account will typically be activated within 30 minutes for use on the Illinois Tollway system.

Thirty minutes? That’s not too bad. Except that was two hours ago and when I check now it’s still “pending”. In fact, the status page says Please check again in the next few days. That’s right: days!

The website says We’ve made getting an I-PASS as easy as possible. Really? I’ve been trying to get this damn thing for over a month now. I’d hate to find out how the order process was before they made it this ‘easy’. 😉


Mar 5, 2009
6:14 pm
#1 A.B. wrote:

I worked for them. The way they treated us is terrible as customer service reps. They tell us we have to keep our calls under 4 mins and yell at us when we don’t. When we try to be nice and really assist someone, we get yelled at for taking too long. When we raise our hand to ask for help, they yell at us to “put our hands down and handle our own calls”. In training they leave out so much, when you ask “why” they tell us “that’s the way it is” as unfair as we think it is. We don’t want to be mean on the phone, we just need a job and have to follow there rules, as unfair as we agree they are, just to keep paying our bills. We get fired for the stupidest reasons. I tried to help a guy out, bent policy a little, he called back asking for more and they found out what I did and boy did i get it. if we don’t follow policy, like i said as dumb as we believe they are, we get fired. We are hired thru staffing agencies so they can fire us for anything because they just call it “our assignment is over” and we’re out on the street with no job. A few of us were actually told one day by a manager that we as Customer Service Reps don’t deserve respect because the few that they hire (right out of high school with no common sense) that screw things up, screw them up for everyone, even the ones who do their job well. Our called are recorded, every word we say. And they have a set day that they pick out certain calls and listen to them to see if we had done or said anything wrong and we get fired if we did. Even if we try to help and bend policy, if they find out we did, we’re gone. And we always knew it’s unfair and don’t take it personal if a Customer Service Rep is rude, that it basically what we are told to be. Our supervisors are rude to us and basically tell us we need to be like them. Then we will ask a question or ask for an explanation to tell the person on the phone they basically tell us “because that’s the way it is” and walk away and we are expected to come up with an answer. The problem is then we get yelled at from the person on the phone because we can’t give them an answer and the supervisors refuse to speak for us. So yea, sorry. Don’t take it personal. Just trying to pay our bills. Just another job.

Mar 6, 2009
9:06 am
#2 Arthur wrote:

@A.B.: I’m sorry to read that 🙁 … it sounds like they’re really treating their customer service reps poorly.

I called I-Pass customer service again yesterday as I had not yet received my refund of $50 for the first I-Pass I purchased. It’s been almost two weeks since I was told that a check was on the way. This time they told me that my account hadn’t been closed and they couldn’t refund me the money while my account was still open. Why would I want to keep $50 in the account without having a transponder in my car to go with it? I asked her to close my account and give me the refund, but she was unable to close my account over the phone. Aaargghh!! She told me to send ANOTHER letter by mail asking for the account to be closed. I already sent them a letter with the transponder when I sent it to them, back in January, but I guess that wasn’t enough. So today I sent another letter asking for the account to be closed so that I can get my $50 back. This is really ridiculous. This has been going on for nearly two months now.

Mar 27, 2010
9:59 pm
#3 Baba wrote:

Thank for your post. I ordered a transponder online, and I got the transponder wrapped in an aluminium foil, which came in an envelop as you explained. I have been trying to find a way to activate it, but could not find the sticker with Activation code. The official website is of no help. That’s when I googled and hit your post. I hope mine is activated already, as you mentioned in your post. Appreciate for penning the issue down!

Jun 16, 2011
9:17 pm
#4 ryan wrote:

this exact same thing happened to me and i’ve been waiting for 2 weeks to activate it without any help. i guess it’s already activated! thank you for going though hell so that we all “online ipassers” know what’s going on!

Sep 28, 2011
12:29 am
#5 Jeny wrote:

Ahhhh! My IPass just came in the mail today in an envelope, wrapped in foil, with a manual that says must activate online or over the phone. Thank you for this post! I would have been running frantic to look for this damn activation code. At least I know that it’s already activated. They should really have a note in the manual saying, if ordered online, the damn thing is already activated. Thank you!

Sep 28, 2011
12:54 am
#6 Jeny wrote:

P.S. I did some more digging. I saved the e-mails I received when I ordered the I-Pass and thank heavens I did. The NEW ORDER CONFIRMATION e-mail that you received contains the order confirmation number all the way at the top. If you used that number to “check the status” of you I-Pass (link is all the way at the bottom of that same e-mail ), it will provide your account number. You can then use the account number and your Driver’s License number to create an online account. After you do that, it will give you an I-PASS APPLICATION STATUS and let you know that the account is active.

Dec 8, 2011
6:15 pm
#7 Karen wrote:

Thanks Jenny. I too saved my confirmation e-mail. Followed the link at the bottom, found out my account was active. Tried to follow the link at the bottom and enter my driver’s license number, but it won’t let me go further. This is such a fouled up experience.

Jan 9, 2012
9:30 pm
#8 Chuck wrote:

I google’d “ipass transponder serial number no activation code” and was directed to your blog.
Here’s my experience: I order my unit online and received it in the mail just like you did.
I created a login account on IPass’s website, after logging in I was not satisfied as I came up with the same page asking for the activation code, so I called the IPass number spoke to a very pleasant and helpful customer rep, he asked for the serial number, confirmed the address and the last four diigts of the driver’s license, he entered the data and confirmed that the unit was activated.

Jan 10, 2012
12:47 pm
#9 dave wrote:

thanks for the detailed info, I got a online orded i-pass with an envelope yestoday and I tried to activate the transponder via online or call center, but they were just useless.
Until I google in your post, then I realized the one orded online was already activated!

PS: thanks Jeny. through the order status check, you can see “Your I-PASS Account is active”

Apr 25, 2012
2:02 pm
#10 Laura wrote:

Thank you for your post!!! I just got my shady little envelope with an aluminum foiled Ipass transponder in it. I looked online (because I could set up my account login before I got it) and it is incredibly confusing! They shouldn’t have a pamplet in there that says it is mandatory to activate all transponders, when in reality the online ordered ones already are activated. Further in the pamplet is says “All transponders obtained from Jewel-Osco locations must be activated online or by phone prior to use….” Illinois IPASS should really update their instructions!! It would leave many people a lot less confused! Even a little “your transponder has already been activated” card would be so helpful!

Thanks again for this post.

Jun 28, 2012
1:33 am
#11 MJ wrote:

Ditto, more of the same. Ordered online, received the package and was led to believe by the materials that I had to activate the transponder. However the website’s only option is activate a PREPAID transponder (which I suppose means the one you can buy at Jewel) not to mention mine didn’t come with an activation code. So I created an online account and it shows my transponder number and lists its status as active. It seems this is just a very poorly written brochure that is wasting people’s time by creating confusion (Fix it I-Pass! You can use some of the extra money you’ve collected from those of us that didn’t want your hands in our pockets; I guess you won, the $1.90 cash tolls are just too much) Sincere thanks to Arthur and those that have commented.

Mar 29, 2017
2:31 pm
#12 Donna wrote:

I created an account, username and password when I ordered my transponder on-line. (both of which were confusing) It has not arrived yet. Logging on to my account gives me a bid red banner saying that I’ve ordered a transponder. page 2 gives a big orange banner saying no transponders are activated, and to activate a transponder to use the account (which is called a “proposed account”). However both pages say

If you ordered a transponder, online access to your I-PASS account will be available when your transponder order is shipped, and your transponder will be ready for use when delivered. Please allow 14 business days for processing and delivery.

Why they don’t say this in packaging is beyond me. Thanks for your story. I’ll ignore the enclosed instructions if it ever does arrive.

Aug 11, 2020
6:14 pm
#13 Dayeday4 wrote:

Hello,I recently went to the Jewel’s Store to renew the Ipass Transponder and wasn’t given a new one because they said I needed the letter before they could give it to me!so I went and had the Ipass letter printed out and returned back their and I was told that they need to Scan the Bar Code in order for it to work!I told them that the website doesn’t said you have to scan anything!which they at Jewel’s didn’t believe me!so I didn’t get the replacement because those people at Jewel’s are very Stupid and don’t understand that you don’t need to scan anything to receive the Ipass just have the letter!I hope that people like that learn how to do something very simple and not be So ignorant!

Aug 19, 2023
3:40 pm
#14 John wrote:

Thanks so much Jenny for that important piece of info that if we ordered a transponder online, it’s already activated. I don’t know why they don’t put a note in the envelope that says “No need to activate. Your transponder is already activated”. Had I not seen your post, I wouldn’t have known that. To make matters worse, it is Saturday that I write this and nobody is in the office of each 800 number I call until Monday. Fortunately, I had already set up my account and when I went into my account and clicked on “Transponders” at the bottom, a window came up with two tabs under “Summary” labeled “Active” and “Inactive”. When I clicked on “Inactive” a message came up that said “No inactive Transponders Found” but when I clicked on “Active” a message came up that said: “Windshield-Mounted, 015XXXXXXXX (My 11 digit serial number), Auto/SUV – up to 7,000 lbs”. So I assume that means my transponder is already activated and ready to stick on my windshield, one inch left of the mirror post and at least one inch below the metal roofline. But I still think I’m going to call that 800 number on Monday and scold them for not communicating this better to the customer! Hopefully they will then improve the process.

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