AUSTIN, Texas - Headaches over billing on Central Texas toll roads are nothing new. But some TxTag users say they are still being overcharged and incorrectly billed by mail, even after a recent glitch was supposedly fixed.
In October, we brought you the story of Georgetown resident and TxTag customer Bessy Martinez.
"We started receiving a bill," Martinez said, "Which to us was a surprise.
Since that story aired, FOX 7 received dozens of emails, Facebook messages and calls from people with essentially the same problem.
"There's clearly something wrong with the billing system," said Jayne Serna of Leander.
FOX 7 spoke with Jayne Serna of Leander, Greg Forester of Northwest Austin, and Rico Garza of Pflugerville.
"I should not be having to pay two separate bills," said Forester.
They all say they have a valid TxTag on their car, their account is current, their credit card is valid, or they have money on the account, and Serna and Garza are both signed up for autopay.
"I called and said this has to be a mistake," said Serna.
In October Serna says she got three toll charges. The first and last went to her TxTag, but the second she got a bill from the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. CTRMA is a separate agency from TxTag which manages and oversees many local toll roads, like 183A, 290, 71 and the Mopac Express Lanes.
"And [the CTRMA representative] says, ‘well, the printed bills are accurate and must be paid’. And I went, ‘okay then’," said Serna.
"They told me that these charges, if I had a TxTag, that these charges were supposed to just go straight to my TxTag and I would pay it like that," said Forester.
Instead, over the weekend Forester got a collections notice from CTRMA, even though he says he has a valid TxTag account and never got an initial bill. That invoice totaled nearly $117.
"This is the third time that I've had to call them and pay these charges separately from my TxTag account that I'm also paying," said Forester.
Garza, meanwhile, says he was slapped with late fees on his car that had a TxTag with a valid credit card.
"It’s very odd that they would randomly charge that. With my TxTag, I've been up-to-date. Everything's good," said Garza.
He got a 60-day past-due notice, even though he says he never got an initial bill. So he called TxTag.
"It’s always ‘it's your fault. It's never, ‘oh, we'll fix it’," said Garza.
"Because of the horrible customer service that they have in a long wait times, it just it kind of dissuaded me from even trying to fight it," said Forester.
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CTRMA spokesperson Jori Liu said in a statement: "All three customers (whose bill detail was provided) had an invalid electronic tag account at the time of the toll transactions; therefore, the tolls were declined by their tag provider and were billed per standard practice via Pay By Mail. CTRMA’s billing processes worked as intended, and the bills they received were for valid transactions. We recommend they contact their tag provider to understand the reason those transactions were declined and to confirm the status of their accounts. As we are not the tag provider, we do not know why our multiple requests for payment were declined. We only know that our request was declined by the tag provider and then pursued payment through Pay By Mail."
Regarding the claims that mailed bills hadn’t been received, Liu said: "We mail all bills and late notices via First-Class mail to the address on file at the TxDMV as required by law. We have no insight into the mailing process, and no way to guarantee delivery or confirm receipt. First-Class Mail is assumed delivered if not returned."
"It seems to me like it's probably a little more of a systemic issue than me," said Serna.
But in a statement on their website, TxTag admitted there may be an issue on their end: "TxDOT has identified an issue affecting a small percentage of TxTag accounts which is not allowing tolls to post to your account if you drive on other toll agency's roadways. This issue may result in a bill from another toll agency for your travel on their roadways. If this occurs and you have a TxTag account, please contact the TxTag Customer Service Center at 888-468-9824 to request the TxTag rate."
This announcement came despite TxTag telling FOX 7 in October that an issue with a previous vendor had been fixed, and billing was working normally.
CTRMA says even they weren’t told about this latest problem until after the notice went up on the TxTag website.
"You would think you would want to have one billing agency," said Serna.
In the meantime, many say they’re avoiding these roads altogether.
"It has made me drastically cut down on driving on the toll roads," said Forester.
"If I had a magic wand to wave it, it would definitely be ending the toll roads because they cannot get the things together," said Garza.
For issues with your TxTag account, call 888-468-9824 or visit www.txtag.org.
For more information on billing from the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, visit https://www.mobilityauthority.com/ or call (833) 762-8655.