PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Monday night, 10 On Your Side told you about several people who got $25 late charges for unpaid toll bills from Elizabeth River Crossings. But the people being charged claim they never got a bill in the first place.
Since that report, more than 50 new emails were sent to 10 on Your Side, along with online comments and phone calls to our newsroom. All of those viewers were contacting WAVY about toll violation notices they believe are unfounded. They are pay-by-plate drivers, who ERC claims did not pay their tolls bills on time.
“But I never received the original bill … so I called them, and of course got the machine and left a message, but no one has called me back, Portsmouth resident Katherine Gray told WAVY.com. “I saw how many people had complained, so I thought, ‘let me send an email,’ and here you are.”
When 10 On Your Side contacted ERC on Monday about the $25 violation notice showing up in the mail before the actual toll invoice bill, spokeswoman Leila Rice emailed us:
As we research them, we are finding that they have been properly processed with the invoice being mailed to the same address as the violation notice.
Gray was outraged by that statement: “I saw that and was even madder. I was madder. No, that cannot be possible,” she said.
So WAVY.com continued to push ERC on the issue, and Rice started singing a different tune. In a later email, she wrote:
During our investigation, no one who claims they did not receive an invoice will have to pay the $25 penalty … we are giving our customers the benefit of the doubt. It is not ERC’s intent to charge any customer more than the tolls and fees they have actually incurred.
Rice also said ERC is conducting a broad investigation into the complaints to see if there is a problem with their mail house in Richmond or with the U.S. Postal Service. She said ERC’s tolling contractor uses the same mail house as VDOT’s tolling contractor uses, and so they are looking into the processes there.
If the investigation finds there is a problem, Rice said it is not related to the functionality of their tolling system.
“All these people cannot be wrong … they cannot all be wrong … I think it is awesome that you are there, and from now on, I will remember to call you all,” Gray told 10 On Your Side.
Rice encouraged customers who have concerns about violation notices to call ERC’s customer service center directly at 855-ERT-ROAD or via email at customerservice@DriveERT.biz.
Rice also sent WAVY.com the following statement:
It is not ERC’s intent to charge any customer more than the tolls and fees they have actually incurred. Until we can complete our investigation, we ask that all customers with questions about their invoices and notices contact the ERT Customer Service Center directly for resolution.
Our customer service center has received a number of calls and emails over the last few days from customers who claim they did not receive an invoice prior to receiving a Violation Notice. With each of the cases we’ve investigated, we have received confirmation from our mail house that indicates an invoice was mailed to the same address as the Violation Notice via U.S. Postal Service. ERC is doing a broader investigation of this matter.