E-ZPass - not so easy
January 26, 2009 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Why did our E-ZPass account charge us for tolls in NJ and DE when we definitely weren't driving anywhere outside of NYS at the time? Will they believe us when we dispute the tolls?

My husband and I have a new E-ZPass account in New York State. We have only used it once so far, driving on the NYS Thruway. However, when my husband logged into our account today, he saw charges for tolls in New Jersey and Delaware. These expensive tolls were definitely NOT incurred by us -- it's impossible because we have never taken the E-ZPass out of New York. The website tells us to dispute the charges in writing, but what are the chances they'll actually believe us? If they don't, do we just contact our credit card company for help? Advice from anyone who's been in a similar situation is much appreciated!
posted by trillian to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
 
I can't answer your question -- I would call the E-ZPass people and explain your situation (customer support, rather than dispute resolution, if you will) and go from there.

I would caution against disputing a creditcard charge from a Government agency. If you dispute it, you will still owe NYS for the tolls -- and probably make them fairly grumpy. It wont just make the charges disappear, or cause them to ask you whats up.
posted by SirStan at 10:04 AM on January 26, 2009


I had an EZPass dispute with NJ last year. They claimed I went through the same (expensive) toll twice within 20 seconds. When I called them I was told that I had to submit a complaint, in writing (no sir, by letter - you know - with a stamp). In the end they credited my account, but it was slow... I know of other people who have successfully disputed charges in NJ.

(Their system is a mess and everyone knows it.)
posted by R. Mutt at 10:05 AM on January 26, 2009


One thing that might bolster your case is pointing out, if applicable, that you used no E-ZPass toll facilities between your home and the nearest NJ toll on that day and thus either would not have had access to the disputed toll or would not have been able to drive an alternate route in the time it would take to reach the nearest disputed toll location.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:12 AM on January 26, 2009


I might be mistaken, but I remember hearing that EZPass grabs a video capture of the license plate when you pass through the toll. Drop them a letter and be patient. A bureaucrat will [probably] eventually look at it and delete the charges from your account.

EZPass is a buggy system, but it certainly beats waiting in line for tolls.
posted by pianoboy at 10:14 AM on January 26, 2009


[comment removed - this is for solving the problem not griping about the system, thanks]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:43 AM on January 26, 2009


Couple of theories on how that could happen:

1) Someone fat-fingered the data entry and associated their transponder with your account.

2) Someone altered their license plate and is running tolls intentionally. The toll authority uses the cameras to find out who to send the ticket to or whose E-ZPass to charge. You are just a random victim.

#1 is easy to fix. #2 may be much trickier.
posted by smackfu at 10:49 AM on January 26, 2009


I would caution against disputing a creditcard charge from a Government agency.

I don't think he was talking about disputing the credit card charge, because E-ZPass uses a balance system. You get charged once to build up a $25 or so balance, and then the tolls are spent out of the balance until you get below a level and they charge another $25 to replenish it.
posted by smackfu at 10:54 AM on January 26, 2009


Oh sorry, he does say something about disputing. That's a really bad idea if part of the charge is legit.
posted by smackfu at 10:55 AM on January 26, 2009


disputing...a really bad idea if part of the charge is legit.

The OP says the charges are not legit, that their EZ Pass has never been outside New York State, but that it was charged for tolls in Delaware and New Jersey.

Thus, I would totally take this up with your credit card company. They will either do the legwork for you and challenge the erroneous toll charges in NJ and DE, or they will decide it is not worth it, pay off the disputed charges themselves, and take them off your credit card account. American Express is particularly good about this kind of thing. Either way, you don't pay for charges you didn't incur.

And if this kind of thing is as common as some of the posters here indicate, I think it would be a good idea for consumers to start taking their complaints to their credit card companies instead of to the state bureaucracies. I imagine once these bureaucrats end up spending half their working hours being harangued by credit card companies--and the investigators I have dealt with at American Express and Bank of America were total bad-asses, albeit in a firm, polite, and professional way--they might think about cleaning up their acts.
posted by isogloss at 11:00 AM on January 26, 2009


Thanks for the advice so far. I would love to just have the CC company deal with it themselves (we charged up our original balance with a CC), but we checked their website and it says to only contact them for help if you've exhausted other efforts first. I can see this kind of thing dragging on for weeks or months, though, since I'm thinking this won't be a very high priority for NYS...
posted by trillian at 11:10 AM on January 26, 2009


Why don't you just dispute the charge in writing like they ask? My money is on this being resolved easily, if not quickly, that way. So send a letter explaining that you haven't left the state with the transponder:

Dear E-Z Pass:

I am writing to contest the toll charges to my account recorded on xx/xx/xxxx in New Jersey and Delaware. I recently opened this account and I have not left the state of New York with the transponder. Would you please reveiw your records for these charges?

Enclosed please find a copy of my statement with contested charges circled. I trust that you will be able to reverse the charges quickly.

Sincerely,
trillian
xxx-xxx-xxxx

Mail that certified, keep a copy, and call your credit card company if you haven't heard back in 2-3 weeks. This is one of life's little administrative hassles, but a relatively minor one.
posted by robinpME at 3:29 PM on January 26, 2009


So, when my account was new, when I crossed a bridge twice that I don't normally use (I forget which one), and coincidentally once at each end of the day, the EZpass Commuter discount kicked in.

This assumes you will use the route regularly, and charges you a lump sum periodically and gives you discounted tolls on that route.

Could be the same thing, since you said the "toll" was hefty.

Check the codes on the statement carefully, to see if the transactions concerned equate to a "commuter discount" or some such.

I had to phone and tell them I only used the bridge once and wouldn't be doing it again. They said fine, and reversed the periodic commuter discount charges. I may have had to write the letter -- I can't remember.

They did say it could happen again if I crossed the bridge twice again in one day...
posted by blue_wardrobe at 3:47 PM on January 26, 2009


Well, I'm surprised! We sent the letter as required, and they credited our account not too long after! I never expect things like this to be easy anymore, but it was.
posted by trillian at 7:32 AM on February 27, 2009


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