ERT software glitch delays E-ZPass bills

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Log on to your E-ZPass account, and what you find may surprise you.

You’ll see zero charges for trips through the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels February 28-March 3, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting free trips. It means you’ve been victim to a software glitch that has delayed nine days worth of transactions and the lack of communication about it. 10 On Your Side looked into what the situation means for you when the charges finally go through.

Special Coverage: Tolls on WAVY.com

WAVY.com’s Jane Alvarez-Wertz saw evidence of the glitch on her E-Z Pass bill and called Elizabeth River Tunnels. The employee on the other end said, “I am not sure why they are not showing in the system, and I am thinking the system’s in an updating status and just a little delayed. We are a little slow here, and we’re still getting things together and getting on our feet.”

ERT’s Lauren Hansen told WAVY.com Elizabeth River Tunnels Customer Service Center recently made some software changes, which change how the center sends tolling information to the E-ZPass Customer Service for bill processing. She was unavailable for an on-camera interview, but explained the software switch in more detail by email:

Before the software switch, all E-ZPass tolls and Video-Tolls (V-Tolls), which are tolls from E-ZPass customers where the transponders failed to read correctly, would be sent to E-ZPass Customer Service as an E-ZPass transaction. After the upgrade, these two types of transactions are separated out in accordance with E-ZPass protocol. The toll rates for both types of transactions are the same as with E-ZPass and have no associated processing fees from ERT. The software upgrade does not impact Pay By Plate customers.

The problem — ERT’s new software had a glitch.

“[ERT] quickly found that had stopped the transactions from going through to E-ZPass, and since then, they have sent over a batch of corrected files for those zero charges,” said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Shellee Casiello.

And VDOT seems to think the software problem still exists.

“The software has not been fixed, and VDOT is waiting for those transactions to come across,” Casiello told 10 On Your Side.

And if the problem has existed since late February, why didn’t anyone within this Public-Private Partnership alert the public? Answer: “We were waiting for all the transactions to start going on the account, and VDOT was going to send out an email blast notifying everyone, and then when it came to our attention [from WAVY-TV] that people were concerned about it, we thought we should let people know sooner rather than later,” Casiello said.Andy Fox reports on E-ZPass delayed deductions

Following 10 On Your Side’s investigation Monday, a message popped up on the E-ZPass website: “Please note, due to ERT software changes and upgrades, the Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) Customer Service Center has been unable to send toll transactions to E-ZPass customers since Feb. 27, 2014. None of the transactions have been missed or lost and these omitted transactions are expected to begin processing on the evening of March 10, 2014. We have requested that these transactions be transmitted to us over a several day period to minimize impacts to E-ZPass accounts.”

ERT told WAVY.com they will now send more than three days of charges to VDOT each day until all the charges are correctly posted on customer accounts. ERT also told us they expect this process to be finished by the end of this week. But that led to another question — could an abundance of charges at once send accounts into the negative, forcing drivers to be charged higher toll rates?

“All I can promise is, if you call, we will make sure it is put at the right rate,” Casiello said. “If it happens, if it comes through as a pay-by-plate [which is three times more than the regular E-ZPass charge] … we will take care of it. If you are an E-ZPass customer, you should be charged an E-ZPass rate.”

WAVY.com will closely monitor this situation making sure no one is charged the higher toll rate, if accounts go into the negative due to this ERC glitch.

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