Drivers in Maryland have repeatedly complained about being overbilled by E-ZPass coupled with a total inability to reach customer service whilst others are struggling to log in to their accounts to replenish existing balances. Now, many are facing steep fines for late payments.
One user, in particular, goes by the name of Patty Morh, a user from Glen Burnie who is currently in the midst of fighting a bill upwards of $700. She is battling frustration, fines, and overcharges due to being unable to resolve the issue in any possible manner as all forms of communication are cut off from E-ZPass at the moment. This includes phone, in-person, and online.
Many individuals like Morh work jobs that require the crossing of the Key Bridge twice per day.
"I'm either going to have to pay my bill or I'm going to jail because I still have to drive my vehicle. You can clearly see (charges for) $4, $4, $4. There's only supposed to be a $1.40 (charge). The sign says if you have an E-ZPass commuter, it's a $1.40 (charge). That's me, supposed to be," Morh said. "Then, you get stuck with this toll-by-photo, and this is a $6 charge regardless ... double-axle is for $6. So, I immediately think, 'I only have one axle on this truck.'" - Patty Morh
In accordance with the Maryland Transportation Authority, the impact of migrating to a fully cashless and electronic toll system is still being felt. A number of bills are excessively high due to the fact that the agency deferred billings to lessen the monetary strain caused by shutdowns and layoffs from COVID-19.
Morh continued by stating that it was nearly impossible to reach a customer service agent on the phone.
"There would be times that I would put the phone on hold. They would say, 'Your wait is 460 minutes.' That's seven and a half hours. Who has time for that? Another time, I was on hold for 280 minutes." - Patty Morh
John Sales, the Acting Deputy Director of the Maryland Transportation Authority, claimed that staff shortages have remained a problem throughout fall 2021. The recent Omicron spike resulted in nearly 50% of the staff members being unable to answer calls due to quarantine mandates. The center received nearly 200,000 calls in November.
When attempting to log into the website directly to replenish her outstanding balance, she experienced a multitude of password issues and problems with her PIN code. In situations in which customers fail to get through via phone, they try to resolve issues in person at established service centers, but that has often failed to work.
"Amidst all this COVID situation, (I stood) in line to find out they are going to give me a case number and someone will call me eventually." - Patty Morh
Morh additionally claimed that weeks passed after finally receiving a case number, and yet no one has taken the time to contact her.
As of 2022, E-ZPass claims to still remain the most cost-effective manner to pass through tolls in the State of Maryland by saving drivers nearly 80% of the higher rates and paperwork associated with Video Tolls and the risk of debt collections, suspension of vehicle registration, and civil penalties.
Yet, one way E-ZPass recommends drivers can pass tolls without running into service and excessive fees includes Pay-By-Plate. By definition, the system represents an alternative payment plan by which a driver registers their plate with tolls automatically billed to their card every time they use a Maryland toll facility. It is only viable on vehicles possessing less than or equal to 10 axles. In the event that a customer's license plate is read by the facility, the trip is automatically deducted from the credit card on file.
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