Outsourcing toll collections runs into snags

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Outsourcing the billing for toll collection is predictably fraught with trouble that can quickly put commuters in big financial and credit trouble - or could lead to blocking their car registration or having their vehicle impounded.

Toll troubles linger after billing system revamp
By Angie Beavin
Published: July 14, 2014

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Transportation recently shut down its TxTag customer service phone lines and website to upgrade their services and allow customers an easier way to manage their accounts.

About a week after coming back online, users are still experiencing problems getting through on the phone and accessing pages on the website.

    •    Before TxDOT outsourced their call center, they had a total of 66 call takers, with 35 answering calls at any given time.
    •    With Xerox taking over, they now say 46 operators man 187 phone lines.

“I received a statement, and it told me that I needed to pay before the 8th,” said Elissa Moore, who had three toll collections to pay. And she knows how important it is to get them in on time. “A $2 bill can turn in to a $200 bill if you don’t pay your bills at the right time.”

TxDOT rolled out a new TxTag Customer Service Center and billing system July 9. As the services are phased in, department officials warned customers they should expect delays and hiccups.

On Monday, the “Pay a Bill” link at TexasTollways.com, where TxDOT directs customers to pay bills, was not working. The page appeared to be working on Tuesday, after our story aired.

An Internal Server error greeted customers trying to pay their bill online.

That had customers like Moore worried.

“I finally decided to just take off early from work and come pay it today,” Moore said.

She went to the TxDOT offices in North Austin near Parmer Lane and MoPac. There, dozens of people like Moore were waiting in line.

“Their phone system is always busy,” said Yoncong Zou, who was paying a toll collection. “I called for like two hours, and nobody picks up the phone, and that’s very frustrating. So, I came here to solve the problem.”

TxDOT officials said customers would not incur late charges if their bill was due during the downtime while the transition was happening.