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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Traveling the OReGO Trail - Dead Battery Response

I reported here that I was having some trouble with my car battery since joining the OReGO program. To be fair, this is an old vehicle, I don't drive it much, and the failure could have nothing to do with the hardware they added to my car to track it.


However, OReGO did add insult to my injury. After all the hassle of dealing with a vehicle that wouldn't start, paying $105 for a new starter battery, I then received an email from OReGO saying that my device had not been reporting and that I could be charged for "Null Mileage Days".

I had no idea what "null days" were or that the fee would be. So I sent Azuga (the company that is administrating the program for ODOT) an emails asking 2 questions:
  1. What are "Null Mileage Days" and how much is the charge?
  2. Could their device cause my battery to drain and, if so, how could I prevent it?
A weeks went by and Azuga didn't respond. I sent a follow up email, three days go by, still no response. I emailed ODOT and told them the story and said that Azuga was not responding. To their credit, ODOT responded on the same day and called Azuga and told them to call me.

Without posting the entire email from ODOT, here is a summary of what they said:
The Azuga system can store several days worth of data to allow for cases such as underground parking, where it may not get a signal. Even when you don't drive, the device checks in periodically. When the device has not checked in for 10 days, it is assumed that the device is no longer plugged in, or in a "non-reporting state". When this occurs, the owner will be charged a flat rate for these “null mileage days”. The rate is determined by averaging the driving range of the vehicles previous 60 days and multiplying that distance by the road usage fee amount of 1.5 cents.  
Here is the rub with this statement, normally, the road usage fee is applied and the amount of the gas tax is refunded. They didn't mention anything about refunding the gas tax. That is a follow up question.

The ODOT reply went on to make more points. First the null mileage email that I received, might have been in error. Azuga sent out several false null mileage emails in September. They still have glitches to work out. Second, they said that if I am not going to be driving for 30+ days, I could call Azuga and temporarily opt out. However, I don't know when I'll be driving the vehicle next. The camper is stored away for the year and it's at least 2 months until ski season, so it will likely sit, but maybe I'll need to pick up some drywall or something that won't fit in one of the cars.

The last point from ODOT was that this the the first report that they have heard about a dead 12V battery, but the program has only been running for 3 months. They don't think the tracking system would be the cause since it is a small load, but they would like to follow up more on that topic after checking with some of the more technical people involved. Maybe I should pull out my multi-meter and make a few measurements.

I'll keep you updated as this progresses.

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Traveling the OReGO Trail:
July 19, 2015 - Signing Up - Why?
July 23, 2015 - Saddle Up (unbox and plug in)
July 27, 2015 - First Trip
July 29, 2015 - Jumpy GPS
July 31, 2015 - Jumpy GPS Response
August 20, 2015 - The Big Trip (well not that big)
September 25, 2015 - Dead Battery