Man turns to 10 On Your Side for help with toll bill trouble

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side is on toll patrol, looking into one man’s battle to get his license plates renewed.

It starts with a delinquent toll bill that went to a collection agency. He paid it, so everything is good, and he can get his plates right away, right? Wrong. So what’s the hold up?

The hold up is caused by procedures in place that take time, even if you’ve paid your delinquent bill. A man called WAVY News to say that this is wrong and in this case, and he was right.

“Financially, money got tight, running late, paying bills, just normal life things.”

That’s why a Portsmouth resident said his toll bill went unpaid for a year. He doesn’t deny it, and he’s not proud about it.

Understandably, Elizabeth River Crossings — which operates Elizabeth River Tunnels — put a block on his account through the DMV Vehicle Registration Withholding Program, so when he went to renew his license plates Tuesday, he wasn’t able to.  His tags expired Jan. 31.

To rectify the situation, he called ERT.

“When I dialed the ERT number, it is hooked up to a collection agency.”

His call was forwarded to the ERT collection agency, which is a law firm in Houston, Texas. He spoke to them and they came to an agreement: He will pay $535.

“$535 and that settles my accounts, wipes them all out… And I gave them my card number and the money left my account,” he added.

He says the money was taken from a tax return MasterCard with a $750 balance on it.

“My phone ‘blinged’ when they took out the money.”

He says the money left his account, and he was emailed a receipt. He then takes the receipt to Chesapeake City Hall’s DMV Select to renew his state tags, but the ERT hold was still on the account. He couldn’t renew the tags.

“I was very hot. Then I get to the DMV Select, and a lady there said, ‘There are people like you waiting for weeks for the same thing.'”

He walks away with no tag renewal. He calls back to the ERT collection agency.

“They said, ‘It takes seven to 10 business days when it is coming from collections.’ I think that is kind of crazy. You might as well go back to horse and pony days if you are going to take seven to 10 days,” the man said. “Right now, my wife is riding around illegally… We don’t have legal tags, but we have to use our car.”

So the man called 10 On Your Side.

“I have seen you do a lot of things for a lot of people and you have actually helped others, and it will not only help me, but others in the same boat.”

WAVY’s Andy Fox went to ERT, wanting to know why when a driver pays money that actually leaves an account, they don’t get immediate credit for the money taken.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the DMV informed the Portsmouth resident the block on his account was lifted by ERT. He can renew his license plates Thursday.

Leila Rice, Public Affairs Manager for Elizabeth River Crossings, emailed 10 On Your Side about the late afternoon change”

Our customer service representatives and collection agency representatives advise customers to allow as many as seven to 10 business days for payment to clear. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will always take that long, because of varying payment methods, bank processing times, etc. This customer most likely used a form of payment that required shorter clearance time, allowing the DMV hold to be removed more quickly.”