See this post for the resolution to our problems: We fought the Illinois Tollway and won
SCROLL DOWN FOR SECTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN UPDATED
I received a letter the other day from the Illinois Tollway claiming I owe them $2,322.40 in tollway fines.
Let’s just say I was slightly shocked.
At first I thought I would just settle it for the $112.40 they offered me to avoid the hassle, but the more I realized how WRONG it is, the more I know I have to fight it. Not just for me but for some little old lady out there who, like me, did nothing wrong and doesn’t have the courage or the resources to fight it.
And for those of you who read this and wonder what I-pass is, it is a wireless transponder that allows for open-road tolling so you don’t have to put money in the toll, it comes off your account which is linked to a credit card as you go through it.
I wrote a letter to Pam Zekman who is a local news reporter CBS. I don’t watch the news but my husband said that if anyone can help me bring this to light and make change, she can.
I’d appreciate it if you all could go over to Pam’s bio on the CBS 2 page and click the link to “send Pam a tip” and then just send her the link to this story (under message category just change it to her name) in the message. If you want to write more, that’s great, I’ll appreciate any help you can give me to push this to the front of her news radar!
I will also be emailing other Chicago and Northwest Indiana news outlets to try and find someone willing to expose this. We are not the only ones who are experiencing this and someone needs to stand up and fight.
Here is a news story from ABC from last year: Taking on the Tollway. I’m not sure it gives me hope because in the end it was settled for $300 even though this woman had nothing to do with the tolls since someone stole her old license plates but it is just more proof that something needs to be done.
Here is the letter I am sending to everyone:
I’m having trouble with the Illinois Tollway trying to charge me $2,300 for violations that are not violations but errors either with my I-pass transponder or their computers or both.
I lived in Illinois all my life and we have had I-pass since 9-15-04. We always used it, always kept it replenished and never seemed to have a problem.
At the beginning of 2008 we had moved to Indiana and changed our vehicle registrations and drivers licenses to Indiana. The Illinois Tollway has a record of this change from March 31, 2008 since we were retaining our I-pass because we frequently travel in Illinois – so I updated it with them.
Last Friday on 3-27-09 I received a Notice of Impending Suspension from the Illinois Tollway. I received this notice through my in-laws. They got it through an old neighbor of ours who dropped off some mail they had received in error. Please note that we had a forwarding address on file with the post office and the Illinois Tollway had our corrected address for almost a year now. This notice claimed I had toll violations and the amount due is $2,322.40 and that my license was about to be suspended (which I no longer hold an Illinois license but they claim my Indiana license can be taken). The account has been sent to a collection agency as well. They claim they sent 3 previous notices. I never received them.
Here are the details broken down so you see the major problems:
– They claim we had over 33 violations, and that our vehicle went through the toll booth but was not registered on an I-pass during these dates: 4-26-07 thru 11-14-07. I have PROOF from the I-pass website under “usage history” of at least 1 instance where the vehicle/license plate in question went through a toll booth during that time period and it registered as a video toll and was linked to my account and they debited my I-pass for that toll. The vehicle had always been linked to that I-pass. We never removed it. Why would we?
– In talking with the Illinois Tollway on the phone they confirmed that on the dates in question when my alleged violations occurred, they have some successful transactions with the unit and some within a short time frame later that same day that are coming up as violations. They all but admitted over the phone that there obviously was an equipment error of some sort.
– They agreed to settle my account for $112.40. But I don’t owe $112.40, I owe the amount of 33 tolls which is around $13 considering some of those tolls were .15 cents.
– When I asked to just pay the amount of the tolls they asked me why I didn’t respond to the 3 previous letters. The first letter they claimed to have sent in September 2008, almost a year after the last alleged violation. Our vehicle was no longer registered with the State of Illinois – it had been transferred to Indiana, nor was the drivers license they reference in the letter a valid drivers license. It was shown as surrendered to Indiana. Indiana has my current address. The Illinois Tollway claimed that they use records from the Secretary of State’s office AT THE TIME OF THE VIOLATION. Considering the first letter was sent almost a year after the last violation, wouldn’t it have made more sense for them to check the current records or at least compare it with their own (and they admit they had our address change at the time)? Yet they hold me responsible for not responding to the first 3 letters they claim to have sent. By the time they bothered to send out a letter, that vehicle was no longer registered in Illinois but my Illinois Tollway records were up to date.
– I have read numerous complaints about this across the web, many of these problems caused by the Illinois Tollway waiting so long to catch up with old violations.
– In my case, however, since the violations are not valid or not my fault, why won’t they just debit my I-pass account, which is now current and has always been current on an automatic replenishment with my credit card for the actual amount of the missed tolls?
They claim that if I don’t pay the $112.40 now (actually they “found” another $1.40 in missed tolls from that same time period so make it $113.80) they will be suspending my Indiana driver’s license, not to mention what the collection is doing to my credit. I can’t help but think of the word extortion to describe what they are doing. I have 2 children, one who goes to preschool. I do need to drive but I will certainly not risk driving on a suspended license. At first I thought I should just pay the $112.40 but what about all the other people that may be going through this same thing who really NEED to drive to their jobs to support their families or take elderly parents to the doctor, or whatever? They might just pay the $112.40 to avoid the hassle. All that will do is lead the Illinois Tollway to think they can continue to get away with this. They were rude to me on the phone. They didn’t care what I had to say. My life is affected but taxpayer money is at stake here too. Not only coming from their own pockets in the form of violation extortion but in the form of wasting time and manpower. I waited on hold with them for 15 minutes before I could talk to a person. How many other people are calling in daily getting the same responses I did?
I didn’t blow through tolls hoping to avoid having to pay them. I followed the law, I did everything right. I kept my account current. And now I’m mad. But I’m just a little person here on my own. I can blog about it on my website and will get a sympathetic ear from my wonderful readers but it will not bring action. Please help me bring action and help protect those of us who are doing everything right yet are being put through a lot of grief and trouble from an organization that is big enough to use scare tactics to get money.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.
I am mad about this. And I’m not backing down. No way, no how.
Hopefully one of these will come through, otherwise where’s Oprah’s email address? I need Oprah! Or Ellen. Or Bonnie Hunt! Bonnie Hunt is from Chicago, maybe she will help me fight the Illinois Tollway!
BRING IT ON!
I tried once more last night to try and talk to someone with some common sense at the tollway (yeah, I know…). I got to talk to the Queen Tollway Witch (make the witch with a capital “B”) who pretty much told me to just file a complaint. She was rude and actually told me that my old license plates were still registered to me even though the registration has lapsed. “Those plates will always be registered to you.” I tried to tell her that there was no way I could have updated my address with the Secretary of State because the vehicle was no longer registered with Illinois. They do not have a current record of that vehicle or license plate therefore they cannot update it with a current address. All they can do is tell you who the plate was registered with when it was registered with Illinois. What kind of idiot organization sends out a notice a year later and doesn’t bother to CHECK THE CURRENT ADDRESS WITH THEIR OWN RECORDS especially considering there is no current registration on the vehicle.
But that isn’t even the point. The charges are not valid because I have proof the vehicle was on the I-pass account at the time and the account is, was and always has been current and in good standing.
And if you watched the news story I posted above, you will see that I am not the only one who did not get their alleged notices in the mail.