Out-of-state driver fights TxTag bill from 1,200 miles away

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Robert Haney is not a TxTag customer. In fact, he hasn’t lived in Texas since 1985.

Yet Texas’ toll authority said he evaded a toll. TxTag mailed a bill to his home, more than 1,200 miles away — to Ohio.

“It’s just unbelievable,” said Haney. “As you can imagine, each month they would add another charge and another charge.”

Haney says he couldn’t convince TxTag it had the wrong guy. He says customer service even told him to go to the Ohio DMV and get affidavits for each year his truck had been registered there.

“It’s not a large amount of money,” said Haney, “But I was raised on principles of right and wrong.”

After Haney reached out to KXAN, and we contacted TxTag, the state’s Department of Transportation acknowledged an error in the reading process.

“In researching the customer’s account, it was determined that the customer was inadvertently charged for a vehicle that he did not own,” said a TxDOT spokesperson. “The system read the license plate correctly, however, the state of origin was incorrectly read, resulting in an incorrect toll bill.  We are working to dismiss the tolls and fees from the customer account and he will no longer receive bills for this vehicle. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and appreciate this customer’s patience as we correct this error.”

Haney said TxDOT only admitted the error after we contacted the department.

“I watched one of your reports, and I realized that you were the man for the job that you could actually figure it out,” said Haney to KXAN’s Kevin Clark.

But how was this mistake made? TxDOT is blaming it on one of its old vendors, Conduent. The company was in charge of TxTag toll operations from 2013 until early this year.

During the toll reading process, a photo of the license plate is taken. The image then goes through an automated reading. If this fails to recognize the plate, it pushes to Manual Review, where a person reviews the plate and keys it into the system. The license plate is then sent to the DMV to retrieve vehicle information.

But even then, this Ohio man couldn’t escape getting a Texas toll bill.

“We have to stand up to these folks that are doing things incorrectly,” said Haney.

Conduent was TxDOT’s toll operations vendor in charge of TxTag from 2013 to earlier this year. It was replaced by IBM as the state implemented upgrades to its toll system.

IBM was fired by the state over the summer following KXAN investigations revealing poor performance.

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Austin-Travis County

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