What customers should expect with TxDOT toll billing changes

Austin

As thousands of customers with TxTag accounts try to understand what it means for their outstanding toll bills after the Texas Department of Transportation announced Wednesday it’s dropping $1.3 billion in late fees, the agency’s customer service is quickly answering people’s questions.

Living in Round Rock, Thomas Hunt takes the SH 130 toll two or three times a week. In the summer of 2016 he says TxDOT didn’t send him bills for two months, putting him behind. When bills finally came in August, they wanted more than $10,000 total.

“I went down to pay and they said, ‘well, you knew you took the toll, you should have just paid the bill.’ I said ‘I didn’t get a bill!’ They said ‘that’s not our fault,'” Hunt said.

He hasn’t paid the fees since.

“They said you have to pay it all… so I left,” said Hunt.

Now, his late fees, like more than two million others, have been waived. For those who have outstanding fees, you won’t get a separate notification from TxDOT.

“Fees will not appear on mailed statements, and the fee will be dismissed on our online system in the coming weeks,” spokesperson for TxDOT Veronica Beyer, wrote KXAN. “Customers will receive a message at the top of their statement once the fees have been dismissed.”

If you did pay your fees before March 1, 2018 you will not get a refund. 

No they will not be reimbursed, but we very much appreciate those who did the right thing and paid their tolls and any late fees associated with those late payments,” wrote Beyer. 

TxDOT has issued refunds before, like they did last year for more than 12,000 people after billing mistakes and overpayments.  Lawmakers say it would be too hectic to decide how far back to issue refunds in this scenario.

Customers, like Hunt, will still need to pay the tolls they owe. Just not the sky-high late fees.

“I don’t think anyone has a problem paying the tolls. But when it’s $20 every booth you go through because they didn’t bill you, that’s ridiculous,” said Hunt.

Tolls will only be waived for TxDOT-operated toll roads, all of which are affected by a new cap, which is $48 per year. The state’s new fee cap does not apply to toll roads operated by private toll companies.

Several Texas lawmakers told KXAN today this cures the symptom, but not the underlying problem. There is still confusion with pay-by-mail customers going from toll road to toll road. Next session, lawmakers will look at creating a unified Texas system of toll roads.

Customer Service Call

On Thursday morning, KXAN called the agency’s customer service toll free number 1-888-468-9824 twice. Both calls were answered by an operator within a minute.

The representative on the phone said the waived fees went into effect immediately on April 18, when the development was announced during a hearing at the Texas State Capitol. 

One customer service representative said the toll charges will remain but all late fees will be waived that were incurred 2007-March 1, 2018. If a customer has fees they may need to call in to verify their license plate and make sure their account is taken care of, especially if they have not received a statement that they should have received.

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