Mela Louviere let out a laugh when she opened a collections letter for her TxTag toll account in June. The bill showed she owed $5,750 in administrative fees for only $412.85 in toll usage.
"We assumed there had to be some sort of computing error, human error, something," said Louviere, of Pflugerville. "There had to be something mistaken because we hadn't done anything that was worth $6,000."
It was not an error. According to a Houston-based collections agency, her account was overdue. She was hit with a $25 penalty for each individual toll.
Louviere is not alone. This year, more than 2.2 million Texas toll accounts were sent to the agency Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins & Mott, which added nearly $1 billion in fees to drivers' accounts, according to information obtained through an open records request. And, the number of Texans affected could be even higher since the Texas Department of Transportation, which oversees TxTag, said each account could have more than one vehicle tied to it.
"These fees are certainly made clear up front to customers," said Linda Sexton, deputy division director of toll operations at the Texas Department of Transportation. "It's very clearly drawn out how a transaction escalates through the process and the applicable fees that will be applied if those notices go unanswered."
Are you having trouble getting help from TxTag customer service? We want to help! If you've reached out to TxTag in 2017 but had no luck solving your bill-related issue, check out our full investigation here and upload a copy of your latest bill. We'll go straight to the top for answers and keep reporting on our progress. And see the full reports Monday and Tuesday on KTAB News at 10.
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