BUDA, Texas (KXAN) – Toll issues are driving Stephen Heyman crazy.
“The problem is, they can’t get my license plate correctly,” he said from his ticket-covered kitchen table in Buda.
Last December, he bought a specialized license plate for his wife which reads “QIDOC”. It means “chi doctor”.
“She’s an acupuncturist,” Heyman said. “So qi is chi, which is the main energetic part of acupuncture. ”
The trim, however, turned out to be a pain. This is because toll scanners have a hard time reading it.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Heyman said.
Some toll scanners read it as “Q1D0C”, the letter “I” being mistaken for a number one and the letter “O” being mistaken for a zero. Heyman says he received multiple bills for the same toll. The TxTag transponder, which he got in January to save money on tolls, is also considered “invalid,” according to records. That’s because he didn’t switch to a new TxTag transponder sent to him, according to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Heyman denies it.
CTRMA does not issue transponders. It is an independent toll road authority that manages the billing of certain routes when drivers do not have an electronic pass. Because Heyman’s TxTag account was not working, for some reason he received multiple payment invoices by mail from CTRMA with different variations of his license plate.
The CTRMA told him not to pay the bills with the wrong license plate numbers, he said, as that would open new accounts in his name. Heyman says he was told it would all be resolved. Instead, he’s now receiving collection notices with late fees – and bills are skyrocketing.
“It ended up being sent to collections which ended up costing $ 78 and changing to what started at $ 1.88 in tolls,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt my credit for $ 1.88 in toll. “
Heyman says he has spent the past seven months managing the bureaucracy. He says he spends about four hours a month on the phone trying to sort this out. After going nowhere, he turned to KXAN for help.
“When I have to spend three hours on something for $ 5, it’s not even minimum wage,” he said, “I wish those letters were gone.”
Some of its invoices degenerated into collections due to “failure to properly credit charges,” CTRMA said. It implements “additional guidance” to staff to avoid similar mistakes.
“I don’t want to see them win”
CTRMA says it noticed “a slight increase” in similar complaints in February following the TxTag system upgrade. As KXAN previously reported, this upgrade was plagued by technical issues.
It turns out that different agencies transcribe license plates inconsistently when scanners struggle to read certain characters, according to CTRMA officials. The agency wants everyone to agree on a standard form for recording “O’s” and “I’s” to reduce the risk of billing errors.
“Why don’t you just grab another plate?” KXAN investigator Matt Grant asked.
“It was suggested,” Heyman said. “But I said, “I don’t want to see them win.”
CTRMA says it rejects Heyman’s bills and he owes nothing more. All variations of its license plate are flagged to avoid future errors. On hearing the news, Heyman said he was relieved.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “A huge thank you to Matt and everyone at KXAN. You guys are the best. “
CTRMA says it’s working with TxTag to make sure similar issues don’t happen to other pilots. It is not known how many drivers are affected by similar license plate issues.
Do you have O, 0, I, 1 on your plate?
Since some scanners apparently have trouble differentiating between a one and the letter “I” or a zero and the letter “O”, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles registers license plates with alphabetic and numeric characters. , so both ways are covered, says CTRMA. This is how an invoice is sent to the right address.
License plates are used to charge drivers if they don’t have a toll transponder or the one they do have is not working, as in Heyman’s case.
So what can you do?
- Make sure your toll transponder is working
- Ask your label supplier how license plates are recorded if there is an O, 0, I or 1 in your license plate
- Ask your label supplier to register your license plate with alphabetic letters and numeric numbers
- This will ensure that variations in your license plate are covered.
“The Mobility Authority strives to provide excellent customer service. We understand that this has been a time consuming and frustrating situation for Mr. Heyman and other clients who have found themselves in similar situations, ”said CTRMA Director of Operations Tracie Brown. “We regret the mitigating inconvenience. We will continue discussions with our partners at TxTag to gain a comprehensive understanding of all the changes implemented during their recent system transition to mitigate any negative customer impact for our mutual customer base.
KXAN has contacted the Texas Department of Transportation, which operates TxTag, and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for comment. This article will be updated with their responses when we get them back.