Hank Investigates: Incorrect EZ Pass Charges

Now a story you’ll see on just one station: You may be charged for tolls when your car isn’t even on the road! How can that happen? And why? Hank’s investigation gets answers and some action.

One thing Lorraine Carroll knows, she was not in the Ted Williams tunnel last December 22nd.

Lorraine Carroll: “I was in Florida on December 22.”

Still, she got this bill for $2.65 from EZ Pass, because new Mass Pike plate recognition cameras showed what it said was her car with a Massachusetts plate going through the Ted that day. We’ve blurred some numbers to keep it private. Lorraine was baffled, but determined.

Lorraine: “It’s not a lot of money but I’m not paying someone else’s toll.”

Here’s the photo of the car that went through the toll that day, the same numbers, but look: it’s a Purple Heart plate. We tracked down the owner Patrick Pisani of Bellingham.

Patrick Pisani, Car Owner: “I don’t understand how this could be happening.”

Here’s how, though the new signs for the electronic tolling system say “no transponder, no problem” there actually is a problem.

That’s because Massachusetts, one of the 16 states connected in the EZ pass system, uses the same numbers on different plates. For example there could be Mass passenger 1234, but also commercial 1234, apportioned 1234, Cape and Island 1234, Red Sox, Purple Heart and more.

When a special plate gets an electronic toll, cameras snap a photo of it and then it gets looked up systemwide so the driver can be charged.

But we found the EZ pass shared files do not provide “plate type” information! So if commercial 1234 for instance goes through, passenger 1234 could get the bill.

Linda: “It’s ridiculous.”

Linda from Grafton got $270 worth of tolls from Maryland and New York. Places she’s never driven. Her tolls belonged to an apportioned plate, which is a plate used by some businesses.

Tom from Needham gets charges for tolls in New Jersey, $77 so far.

Tom: “The tolls aren’t my responsibility. I’ve never gone south of Massachusetts.”

His tolls also belong to an apportioned plate.

Tom: “It’s very annoying. I can’t get it fixed.”

EZ pass officials refuse to go on camera, but sources tell us they’re well aware it happens, and admit it’s “very inconvenient” and “frustrating.” 

Mass DOT also refused to go on camera, and told us, “it encourages every customer to check their accounts on a regular basis to make sure all charges are accurate and true.”

That makes it the driver’s responsibility, which is not so E-Z.

Lorraine: “It’s frustrating because they’re leaving it up to me to fix a problem that they have.”

Now EZ Pass insiders tells us, because of our inquires a drive is on to fix the system, but they warn it will be complicated and expensive.

If you’ve been wrongly charged for tolls, let us know, email: tellhank@whdh.com

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