Supply shortages and computer glitches sent drivers into a frenzy around Hampton Roads, all trying to get their E-ZPasses before Elizabeth River Crossing's” 5 Free Tunnel Trips” promotion expired at midnight Friday.
“Everybody's sold out,” said the attendant at a Pit Stop Gas Station in Virginia Beach.
No E-ZPasses could be found at this Rosemont store, listed on VDOT’s website as being a retail partner.
“I’m the sixth customer that has come in the last five minutes asking for them,” said Diane Beyer.
Over at the Elizabeth River Tunnels Customer Service Center in Portsmouth, customers were being told to sign up for E-ZPass on the phone.
“Guy was real polite, he explained what happened, that the computers were down,” said Henry Cawthorne.
“Even the internet is blocked, because people cannot find them in stores, so they are trying to go online and get them,” said Beyer.
VDOT released this statement to NewsChannel 3:
"Due to increased demand for E-ZPass transponders in Hampton Roads, VDOT experienced heavy traffic volume on its E-ZPass Virginia website resulting in delayed site functions. VDOT has taken measures to increase capacity and the site is currently functioning properly."
After seeing the high demand, ERC stepped in with a big announcement.
“We have decided to extend the ‘Five Free Trips’ offer to January 13th, still well ahead of the February 1st tolling start date,” said Leila Rice. “We don’t want people inconvenienced in getting an E-ZPass.”
So drivers now have 10 more days to get their E-ZPass before the special expires, but will the supply be enough for the obvious demand?
VDOT says there is no shortage of transponders, since they have enough ready to mail out to anyone who orders online or over the phone.
VDOT did not explain why it was taking so long to restock E-ZPass Go Kits for their retail partners.
“It’s not an easy thing to find,’ said Beyer.
VDOT and ERC also announced operations at their E-ZPass customer service centers will now move to 7 days a week, starting Saturday, Jan. 4th, going through February 2nd.
- E-ZPass Customer Service Center - Norfolk
1701 Church Street
Norfolk, VA 23504
Open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- E-ZPass Customer Service Center - Portsmouth
Victory Crossing Shopping Center
4010 Victory Blvd
Portsmouth, VA 23701
Open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Elizabeth River Tunnels Customer Service Center
700 Port Centre Parkway, Portsmouth, VA
Mondays- Saturdays: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sundays: Noon to 5 p.m.