Hundreds of toll users receive $0 bills in system error

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Scott Jennings didn’t exactly understand what he was being charged for when he opened up a toll bill from the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

The $16 bill, which has a due date of March 2, shows he owes $0 in tolls. The rest was all fees; a $1 processing fee and a $15 fee for non-payment.

“Part of me was, okay it’s $16, pay it, get it out of the way,” said Jennings, who uses the toll road twice daily to cut down his commute to Austin. “And the other is, what am I paying $16 for?”

Jennings, who has a TxTag sticker, said he called them to ask about the bill. TxTag referred him to CTRMA. After reaching out to CTRMA, Jennings contacted KXAN, and we asked CTRMA about the bill on Monday.

“I’m quite willing to pay a bill that makes sense,” Jennings said. “This bill does not make sense.”

Two days after KXAN reached out, CTRMA said it ran a query of its database found about 400 people in a similar situation.

CTRMA spokesperson Steve J. Pustelnyk said the error happened when they didn’t initially identify TxTag customers who used the MoPac Express Lanes and “mistakenly” sent them Pay by Mail bills instead. Once CTRMA realized the drivers were TxTag customers, they waived the pay-by-mail tolls, but still ended up sending bills to those users for $0 and some with added fees.

“Bills should not have been mailed after the toll was a waived, but a system error allowed them to go out,” Pustelnyk said in an email to KXAN on Thursday. “When the original bills weren’t paid, they escalated to a violation notice. Now that we are aware of the issue we have cancelled all of those bills.”

Pustelnyk said anyone who ends up paying for the bill or violation fees will be offered a refund. They’re still looking to see who all has paid, but have currently only identified one customer who paid the $1 processing fee.

CTRMA will also be sending a letter out to the customers who were affected, letting them know what happened in this situation.

Before learning about the error, Jennings said he was worried about whether or not he’d have a collections agency coming after him for a $0 bill.

“I have no problem paying for tolls. I have no problem paying a $16 bill, it’s just it seems odd to pay $16 for nothing,” Jennings said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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