Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"$11,142 is attributed to administrative fees."

Woman receives toll road bill for more than $11,500


By: Bob Robuck
News 8 Austin
Copyright 2009

It all began with a woman who received a $4,000 bill from the Texas Department of Transportation for toll road usage and penalties.

Now, another woman has come forward with a bill a lot larger than that.

Samone Murray was recently laid off from her job as an administrative assistant. As such, money has been tight, a factor that only added to her shock when she received a toll bill for more than $11,500.

"Eleven thousand dollars in administrative charges -- that's not going to happen," she said. "That will not be paid, not by me. That's ridiculous."

The actual toll charges on the bill amount to about $358 and the remaining $11,142 is attributed to administrative fees.

"At first I laughed and thought, 'Well, maybe I'm reading this wrong. I'm a little tired or something,'" she said. "So I put it down and came back to it, read it again and immediately called my sister, and she said, 'Are they crazy?'"

Murray's problem actually started in December, when she received a number of invoices, for tolls assessed six months earlier, each including a $5 administrative fee. Since Murray did not receive any notices or bills prior to that month, she said she didn't know that every time she used the toll road, somebody was adding a new charge to her account

"I called customer service and they explained, 'Well maybe it was going to a different address,' and I said, 'Well I've been here long enough to have gotten them from you before, so what would be the difference?'" Murray said.

Murray said she's had a TxTag on her car the entire time and always passes under the readers in the toll plazas. She said the toll lights never signal a problem.

Though she said she called customer service several times, no one could explain why Murray owed so much. At one point, Murray said, a customer service representative increased the bill right over the phone, without giving Murray an explanation.

In the end, she said a representative told her she now owes more than $13,000.

For more than a week, News 8 Austin has tried to get a representative from TxDOT to explain and to detail the workings of the toll road system and third parties involved. They said they're working to get that information and may have something later this week.

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