"We wouldn't settle for talking to one of TxDOT's media representatives..."
By: Bob Robuck
News 8 Austin
In a continuing "Your News" look into Texas Department of Transportation toll road billing complaints, News 8 asked viewers to e-mail us with their various issues.
We received dozens of e-mails from people complaining they had paid their tolls, only to be billed again with penalties.
Others have issues with their toll tags. Still more complain about customer service and lack of knowledge by representatives.
The complaints were so varied and complicated, we had to break them down into recurring themes.
The complaints most prevalent include: accusations of inaccurate billing, exorbitant administrative fees, inaccurate record keeping and promises made by customer service that were not fulfilled.
To be fair, these claims have yet to be substantiated.
For weeks, News 8 has asked TxDOT to respond to these claims. We were told Turnpike Authority Director Mark Tomlinson was just too busy to talk to us.
We wouldn't settle for talking to one of TxDOT's media representatives because, by their own admission, one of them had already given us inaccurate information.
We took the e-mails to TxDOT to be presented to Tomlinson. News 8's Bob Robuck delivered a packet of e-mails, with names and contact information redacted.
We included a note that we would get in contact later this week.
And, remember Lisa Coleman, who TxDOT billed for nearly $4,000, and Samone Murray, billed for more than $11,000?
A TxDOT spokesperson told us each woman received an offer to have her penalties forgiven as long as she paid the tolls.
Murray said no one made her such a deal and Coleman claims customer service made the offer at the very beginning of her nightmare, when TxDOT couldn't provide documentation that she even owed the tolls.
We hope to get more direct answers to these and other claims very soon.
Several weeks ago, we made an open records request for the total amount currently owed by toll road users, broken down into actual tolls and administrative fees.
TxDOT said it still needs a couple of more days to compile that information.
We still want to hear from you if you have issues with Central Texas toll roads. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (512) 531-8888 or write to us at News 8 Austin, 1708 Colorado St., Austin, TX 78701.© 2009 News 8 Austin: www.news8austin.com
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