As I scanned September's credit-card statement, an unfortunate voice in my head blared, "Fake news!" (Another grumbled, "Curse you, Equifax!") One weird charge stood out.
The billing company was a rental-car toll entity. Its charge dated to July, a time when I was (to the best of my straining recollection) responsible for a rented mobile. However, the date was off: one day before the second driver returned the vehicle to the airport and, deducing from the amount, the tolls applied on a road to the airport. Doubly weird.
I called the rental-car toll business, whose representative curtly asserted I was responsible for these charges.
"Do you have a picture of the car going through the toll?" I asked.
"We can order one from the toll authority," the representative said.
"Please do," I said. "And may I get a copy of the bill?"
"We can email you one," the rep said.
"Thank you, please."
That document landed in my email moments letter. It listed toll fees along with three cryptic numbers where those had been collected. I had to call the toll-road operator to learn how those digits corresponded to real-world locales. Turned out they're on a stretch of airport access road opposite the direction from which I typically travel. I live to the northwest of the airport, but these tolls were collected to the southeast.
I rang back the rental-car toll mafia, eager to report my detective work.
"Without photographic proof of you and the car someplace else, you're still responsible for these charges," I was told.
"I know I have to wait for the official pictures," I said, "but do your records tell us the make and model of the vehicle I was driving?"
"Let me see," the increasingly disinterested voice said, "red Ford F150."
"My rental car was a green Toyota Sequoia," I said.
"Oh," came the reply. "You'll need to call the rental-car company to remove this charge from your account. I can't do that here."
A fifth phone call finally erased the red from the ledger. Or, at least, that's supposed to be the result in three-to-five business days.