Toll bill reduced for Portsmouth family who owed $9,000

Heather Harvey speaks on the phone ERC CEO Philip Shucet about a $9,000 toll bill. Harvey contacted 10 On Your Side about the bill. (WAVY Photo).

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The good news, since new CEO Philip Shucet took over ERC, more and more past bills are being settled, but he acknowledges thousands more still need attention.

A Portsmouth family got socked for a $9,000 toll bill, and said ERC hadn’t been helpful, so they called 10 On Your Side.

Once ERC understood the issues involved with this case, it was clear ERC wanted to resolve another outstanding toll bill caused by previous skyrocketing late fees that are now a thing of the past.

“The fees that keep compounding and compounding I wasn’t able to afford it. I couldn’t afford the first bill,” said Heather Harvey.

We met Harvey at her home, and she was holding her newborn child. She had a job, lost a job, got a new job, and was living pay check to pay check. She has a rejected car inspection, expired tags, and she owes over $9,000 dollars in tolls.

RELATED: 10 On Your Side helps service member resolve $5,400 ERC toll bill

“And they keep adding up with more and more fees,” Harvey told us, as she looked at a stack of 52 toll invoices and letters from attorneys seeking payment.

We contacted Shucet, who went to work to see what he could do to reduce Harvey’s bill — which was almost all late fees. We went over her invoices too, and asked some tough questions of her, “What do you want to say about continuing to go through the tunnel and not paying?”

“I made mistakes, and I need to make sure there is money on E-ZPass when I go through,” she said. She had not gone through and nor had her finance in recent months.

Then Shucet called us back on FaceTime. Did he have good news?

“The new total from all three accounts (hers, her fiance, and her future mother-in-law) from $9,072 which it is now to $1,229.30,” Shucet said.

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Harvey, realizing the gift immediately, said, “OK, that is great. That is amazing, what is that 8,000 dollars cheaper?” Shucet answered, “Yes.”

By doing this, Shucet took away the old skyrocketing late fees from not paying the tolls, and replacing them with the more modest ones.

Here is the process Shucet went through to arrive at the new lower amount of tolls: He took away all the late fees leaving the actual tolls. He then adjusted the tolls to the lower E-ZPass rates from the pay-by-plate higher rates.

He then added the new late fee of $25 a month for 11 months. Finally, Shucet added a $50 fee to DMV to remove the DMV hold which will allow Harvey to renew her registration and thus her license plates — which have expired and can’t be renewed until the hold is removed.

RELATED: ERC settles with Portsmouth man who owed over $21,000 in tolls

Shucet left us on FaceTime by saying, “Heather, thank you. Thank you Malani.”  He also seemed to leave behind a new friend in Harvey, who said of Shucet, “He is an amazing person, and he seems to have the people’s best interest at heart.”

We caught up with Shucet in the ERC Customer Service Center. “If every Heather Harvey that is in this situation lined up outside the door, we would make the same deal with them,” he said.

Harvey also praised 10 On Your Side who brought this case to Shucet’s attention, “You played the biggest roll. You guys, without you I probably wouldn’t have been able to get it down anywhere close to that.”

As for Shucet?  He has said in the past to us, “If you have an outstanding toll bill, give us a call. We want to make a deal.”