E-Z Pass – A Grow­ing Frus­tra­tion for Mo­torists as Com­plaints of “Scam” In­crease

The Jewish Voice - - SPECIAL FEATURES -

De­spite the fact that E-ZPass has rev­o­lu­tion­ized mil­lions of com­muters’ lives, al­low­ing them to zip through tolls, thus sav­ing time and money, it ap­pears that for a grow­ing num­ber of mo­torists, this pop­u­lar con­ve­nience is ac­tu­ally caus­ing some costly prob­lems as was re­ported back in 2011 by CBS 2’s Dana Tyler.

Ac­cord­ing to her ex­ten­sive re­search, mo­torists have reg­is­tered com­plaints about stan­dard pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles be­ing charged the same price as trac­tor trail­ers, gates on bridges not go­ing up af­ter their toll was paid, and griev­ances about be­ing grossly over­billed for tolls.

“We’ve got­ten, lit­er­ally, thou­sands of com­plaints,” said Robert Sin­clair of AAA New York.

The Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica says it’s on-go­ing. “From tech­ni­cal prob­lems to prob­lems deal­ing with cus­tomer ser­vice be­ing un­re­spon­sive to over­charg­ing, over­billing,” Sin­clair said.

“They over­charged me three times the amount that I’m ex­pected to pay,” said one mo­torist.

Ac­cord­ing to the CBS re­port, the mo­torist said he called and com­plained right af­ter re­ceiv­ing his bill and E-ZPass told him to ex­pect a re­fund but noth­ing ever came. He con­tin­ued to call and even went in per­son and again was told a re­fund was com­ing. But in­stead of a re­fund he even­tu­ally re­ceived a let­ter say­ing his dis­pute had ex­ceeded the agency’s 180-day time limit.

“What dif­fer­ence does it make if it’s 180 days or 1,800 days? Since when is there a statute of lim­i­ta­tions on do­ing the right thing?” he said.

All across the In­ter­net hun­dreds of other an­gry E-ZPass cus­tomers com­plain about over­charg­ing and other prob­lems. “They are re­ally just try­ing to pick my pocket,” Michael J. Moore said.

“They’re charg­ing us trac­tor trailer prices,” Sarama said when the CBS re­port was orig­i­nally filed in 2011.

Sarama and her hus­band run a busi­ness trans­port­ing race horses from New Jer­sey to Delaware. It’s sup­posed to cost $12.50 round trip for her pick up and trailer, but Sarama has been charged as much as $30. Over the last three years, she said E-ZPass has over­charged her $2,800.

“They said it was our fault for not rec­og­niz­ing the fact that we were be­ing over­charged,” Sarama said.

As a re­sult, they’ve joined other mo­torists with trail­ers in a class ac­tion law­suit against E-ZPass. “I think it’s ridicu­lous what they’re do­ing. I think they’re im­pos­ing a bur­den on the peo­ple,” at­tor­ney Jef­frey Po­caro said of E-ZPass.

Part of the prob­lem is dif­fer­ent agen­cies over­see E-ZPass. It all de­pends on what road you hap­pen to be driv­ing on. The Metropoli­tan Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity han­dles the Ver­razano Bridge.

“They charged us, with fines, about $100,” Roxanne Hart­man told CBS 2’s Kristine John­son in a 2012 re­port.

“Ev­ery time I’ve crossed the bridge, they’ve charged me 16 bucks,” Jeff Hutchin­son said. “I got a ticket for $175,” added Robert So­colof.

Mo­torists are strongly ad­vised to read their state­ments care­fully and take ac­tion on mis­takes im­me­di­ately.

CBS 2 dis­cov­ered on at least one lo­cal road­way some driv­ers are pay­ing more than oth­ers.

For ex­am­ple, if you drive the en­tire length of the New Jer­sey Turn­pike – mid-day — and you have an E-ZPass that was is­sued in New Jer­sey, you will pay one price, but if you drive with an E-ZPass is­sued by an­other state, in­clud­ing New York or Con­necti­cut, and you’ll pay nearly $4 more.

Sin­clair of the AAA said, “It’s re­ally un­fair, we think, to mo­torists.”

Not ev­ery­one drives the en­tire stretch of the road, but even if you’re go­ing a few ex­its you’ll still end up pay­ing more than your New Jer­sey neigh­bor. “That’s not how it’s sup­posed to work,” So­colof said.

“There’s prob­a­bly a lot of peo­ple who don’t re­al­ize these things are hap­pen­ing,” Hart­man added.

So­colof said he’s so fed up with E-ZPass he’d rather sit in traf­fic and pay more than con­tinue us­ing it. He gave his E-ZPass tag back in protest.

“I wait an ex­tra four or five min­utes ev­ery time I cross the bridge. I’m idling, I’m pol­lut­ing, I’m wast­ing my time, but I don’t trust the sys­tem,” So­colof said.

Hutchin­son said he feels the same way. He said he’s been charged nearly three times what he’s sup­posed to pay, and it’s hap­pened more than once.

“My tag has been is­sued only to a pas­sen­ger-type ve­hi­cle, but yet they charge me a com­mer­cial rate,” Hutchin­son said.

It’s a com­mon prob­lem we hear about all the time: E-ZPass users from all across the coun­try com­plain on­line, say­ing things like:

* “E-ZPass has been rip­ping me off for years.”

* “They are a bunch of crooks and run mas­sive scams.”

* “Twice it has sent me a fine no­tice and a photo that SHOWS my transpon­der in the win­dow.”

David Ben Hooren, the pub­lisher of the Jewish Voice has re­cently voiced his com­plaints about the ques­tion­able prac­tices of E-ZPass.

“E-ZPass tells a mo­torist who does not have a transpon­der in their ve­hi­cle that they will get billed for the toll. The bill ar­rives and not only are you billed for the toll but you are is­sued a $100 fine. The worst part about it is that E-ZPass does not even in­form mo­torists that they will be charged such a huge fine. When you try to call them to dis­pute a bill or con­tact them in any man­ner, it is all but im­pos­si­ble to reach them. Also, if you do not get pay­ment in on time, they

dou­ble or triple your bill. I think EZ Pass needs a ma­jor over­haul and I would sin­cerely hope that our elected of­fi­cials would make this mat­ter one of their top pri­or­i­ties, “he said.

In Jan­uary of 2017, the Bos­ton Globe re­ported that one woman said that she had been charged for go­ing through the same toll lo­ca­tion mul­ti­ple times in less than a half hour. Oth­ers have said that they are reg­u­larly dou­ble charged for their com­mute.

As re­cently as Au­gust 12, 2017 on the De­part­ment of Con­sumer Af­fairs web site com­plaints about E-Z Pass were still ap­pear­ing.

John from Pitts­burgh said: “This is to those of you try­ing to de­cide if you should get an EZ Pass, as peo­ple just take these roads with­out think­ing. I got an EZ Pass a year ago and I just re­gret half the times I go on the turn­pike. They al­ways find ways to screw you, are im­pos­si­ble to con­tact, have ter­ri­ble cus­tomer ser­vice, and most of all, I hate giv­ing my money to support a busi­ness of toll roads with in­fe­rior ser­vice. The transpon­der I have works 50% of the time, I've got­ten false charges that I try to dis­pute and their cus­tomer ser­vice is ter­ri­ble, ac­cusatory, and just not friendly. There is ZERO way to email them, leave a mes­sage, other than con­tact them dur­ing your busy work week.

De­spite crys­tal clear ev­i­dence, they will still fine you and refuse to look through their army of cam­eras tak­ing pho­tos of your li­cense plate for proof. Truly, the Turn­pike is a trash or­ga­ni­za­tion. More of­ten than not, the non-toll road is just 10-20 min­utes more to wher­ever you are go­ing when trav­el­ing sev­eral hours, I think it's best to just stick to those. For the trips where you are con­sid­er­ing a longer com­mute with friends and want to take the Turn­pike to save the time of your­self and oth­ers, I to­tally un­der­stand, per­haps take the road and just pay cash to min­i­mize your over­all con­tri­bu­tion to the pock­ets of this atro­cious busi­ness.”

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