TxTag customers hope upgrade eliminates billing issues

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It isn’t a new story: TxTag customers claiming to get another driver’s bill.

“It’s been painful,” said Derek LaFitte, who moved from Austin to Colorado two years ago.

LaFitte says he continues to get another driver’s toll charges after a car dealer mixed up his and another driver’s license plates before he moved. He says the plates he was supposed to get are now registered as lost or stolen.

Meanwhile, LaFitte says he has been trying to dispute hundreds of dollars in wrongful toll charges with TxTag, to no avail.

“There’s no way we should be expected to defend ourselves and prove that it wasn’t us every two or three weeks when we get one of these letters saying we owe a bill because of whoever has our plates on their vehicle,” he said.

If you try and access your TxTag account now, you’ll see its customer call center has been closed since Nov. 18 for a ‘system upgrade.’ It expects to reopen Dec. 7.

The Texas Department of Transportation, which oversees TxTag, says the due date for toll charges will be extended and late fees will be cancelled for toll charges while the center is closed.

“Soon TxTag will be launching a new website and customer service features,” the agency said. “These system enhancements will make it easier for customers to open and manage an account, pay toll bills and access customer support.

It is not known whether the changes will remedy the billing and customer service issues our investigative team has been looking into the last several years.

Lyndsi Parker is one of the many drivers who have reached out for us claiming to receive the wrong toll bill. She tells KXAN she sold her car three years ago and got a bill every time the buyer ran a toll. Parker only got the charges removed after we asked TxDOT about the discrepancy.

The agency told us its vendor “found a bug in the software code that allowed a set of transactions to post incorrectly.”

Parker says the biggest problem is that TxTag is not able to flag mistakes in customer data before drivers get sent their bill.

“TxTag’s data is obviously outdated, so it doesn’t surprise me the software is buggy, has issues and is not well tested,” said Parker.

We asked TxDOT how it regularly provides oversight to make sure drivers’ information is updated in the vendor’s system. But the agency says the responsibility falls on the account holder.

“The accounts are either customer maintained or the information is received from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles,” an agency spokesperson told us. “TxTag customer service representatives will update customer’s accounts at their direction.”

TxDOT did not respond to our questions about whether it was switching vendors as part of the upgrade. The vendor, Conduent, referred our questions back to the state.

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