AUSTIN, Texas - The head of Tx DOT responded Wednesday to complaints about how the agency is handling toll road bills. A state lawmaker from Cedar Park also called for the state auditor's office to get involved.
Plywood covers a window at the entrance to the TX Tag service center in north Austin. Police investigators say it was shattered by a bullet. The crime scene - may be the result of anger over a billing snafu that the state road agency cannot seem to fix.
Patrick Graham, who was at the service center Wednesday, was among those who came out with a smile. He was able to quickly resolve an outstanding bill and does not believe he is the exception to the rule.
"I think most people are being handled this way, you are going to get a 3 to 5% customer problem in any business you look at," said Graham.
A growing number of people, who use the tollways in central Texas, claim they are still having problems resolving their bills. TX DOT hired Xerox last year to address the billing problem and despite assurance progress was being made the problem persists. Many of those who have experienced problems live in the district represented by republican tony dale of Cedar Park.
"Well at first I didn't understand the scope of it, you hear anecdotally of people having problems and even I received some toll violations in the mail and I had difficulty getting through as well on the 800 numbers, and then you hear more and more and then you start to realize it's something bigger than just a few people."
Representative Dale sent this letter to TX DOT officials asking them for answers and notifying them that he is calling for the state auditor to launch a full review of the TX tag billing process.
"We want to know have people been over charged for toll violations or for tolls, if so how many and what can be done to refund some of this money, if it was over charged, back to the customers," said Dale.
TX DOT Executive Director Joe Weber told FOX7 the first step to fixing the problem is improving communications and he says that's being done right now. More people are being hired to work call centers and according to Weber that has helped to reduce wait times.
" I firmly believe probably by the beginning of early spring, we've talked to Xerox's Executive people, they think by March we are going to have a better handle on this it's a problem that is gonna get better gradually," said Weber.
As for the question raised by Representative Dale, Weber said refunds will be given to anyone was over charged or paid a late fee that should not have been issued. But getting that addressed will require giving TX DOT a call or showing up at the service center.
State Senator Robert Nichols who chairs the state Senate Transportation Committee said Wednesday he has a few questions for Weber. Answers will be expected during a full hearing next week.
"And yes I am concerned because of the customer service aspect of it needs to be fixed and if that vendor is not fixing it then they need to put more manpower into and we are communicate that with them," said Sen. Nichols.
Despite all the pressure, the window at the service center that was shot out may end up being repaired long before the billing problem is fixed.