Woman received toll bill to place she's never been

Link to article here.

The litany of toll billing problems continue. Erroneous bills could impound your vehicle and block your car registration, which impede your ability to get to work and earn a living!

Woman Receives Toll Road Bill by Mistake
Jan 07, 2015

HARLINGEN - A Harlingen woman said she got a toll road bill by mistake and tried to resolve it without any results.

She called 5 On Your Side for help.

Due to a combination of computer and human error, it is possible to be issued a bill for a place where someone has never been.

Diana Rosales got a letter in the mail last month from some place she knew nothing about.

She received a bill from the North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NET RMA) for $2.11, along with a threat of added penalties and fines if she did not pay up.

“We haven't even traveled out of the (Rio Grande) Valley during the month of November,” said Rosales.

She had supposedly driven her Mercedes on something called Toll Road 49, which loops around the city of Tyler.

NET RMA is an independent government agency involved in transportation projects in Northeast Texas.

Rosales tried calling the number on the bill.

She said, “Several times. And I say that because I did call several times. After waiting 30 minutes on hold on one occasion, I gave up. I said this is crazy. This is just insane.”

The authority places cameras along the toll roads. These cameras read the license plates of vehicles that travel on those roads.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS contacted the agency, and a spokesperson said they dismissed the bill over the weekend. She said lighting caused a bit of glare on one vehicle's license plate. That caused them to think the vehicle was the one Rosales owns.

“There is nowhere on there where I can contact or even submit a form, or go online and submit a form. Please send me a picture or send me some proof that I was there,” said Rosales.
She almost paid the bill just to get it over with.

“It's the principle of the thing and you multiply that two dollars and whatever cents by how many? And how many people are actually willing to call 5 On Your Side? Wouldn't it have been easier to just write a check and just bill the two dollars and whatever cents?” she asked.

Rosales's case does bring up the question of how many incorrect bills the regional mobility authority send out to drivers by mistake each year, and how many people pay money they do not actually owe?

If they send you a bill by mistake and you pay it, can you get a refund? Those are the questions. CHANNEL 5 NEWS is trying to get answers.

The attorney for NET RMA said they are working on the answers to those questions. There are eight regional mobility authorities operate in Texas, including agencies for Hidalgo and Cameron counties.

The North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority does have a way you can dispute a toll.

It cannot be done online. A letter must be mailed in.

The attorney for the NET RMA explained their process for reading license plates.

The attorney said license plates are read by a camera, and that image is then entered into a computer. Software handles optical character recognition. That information is then reviewed by a person.

One problem is that some characters look virtually identical, such as an "l" and the number one.

So both the computer and the human have to make a mistake on the same license plate for someone to receive a bill in error. The NET RMA said their error rate last week was less than one percent.