CBS 2 Investigates: Living Through An E-ZPass Nightmare

Drivers, Experts Say The Convenience Is Overrated Because System Is Flawed

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — E-ZPass is supposed to be easier, faster and cheaper. But how would you feel if you knew the driver next to you was paying less for the same service?

When millions of drivers signed up for EZ-Pass they thought it meant the end of throwing money out the window.

“They charged us, with fines, about $100,” Roxanne Hartman told CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson.

“Every time I’ve crossed the bridge, they’ve charged me 16 bucks,” Jeff Hutchinson said.

“I got a ticket for $175,” added Robert Socolof.

“There has been no bigger issue as far as our members are concerned than E-ZPass, the inconveniences,” said Robert Sinclair of AAA.

And that’s not all. CBS 2 has discovered on at least one local roadway some drivers are paying more than others.

“It really seems contrary to the convenience that was touted as being associated with E-ZPass,” Sinclair said.

For example, if you drive the entire length of the New Jersey Turnpike – mid-day — you’ll pay $10.40 in tolls using an E-ZPass issued in New Jersey.

But drive with an E-ZPass issued by another state, including New York or Connecticut, and you’ll pay nearly $4 more for a total of $13.85.

“It’s really unfair, we think, to motorists,” Sinclair said.

e zpass CBS 2 Investigates: Living Through An E ZPass Nightmare

E-ZPass (credit: CBS 2)

Not everyone drives the entire stretch of the road, but even if you’re going a few exits you’ll still end up paying more than your New Jersey neighbor.

“That’s not how it’s supposed to work,” Socolof said.

“There’s probably a lot of people who don’t realize these things are happening,” Hartman added.

CBS 2 first exposed the E-ZPass problems, including overcharges, fines and technical glitches several months ago. Now, drivers tell us little has improved. For some it’s only gotten worse because of skyrocketing gas prices.

“I think the idea is a great idea, they just can’t deliver,” Socolof said.

Socolof said he’s so fed up with E-ZPass he’d rather sit in traffic and pay more than continue using it. He gave his E-ZPass tag back in protest.

“I wait an extra four or five minutes every time I cross the bridge. I’m idling, I’m polluting, I’m wasting my time, but I don’t trust the system,” Socolof said.

Hutchinson said he feels the same way. He said he’s been charged nearly three times what he’s supposed to pay, and it’s happened more than once.

“My tag has been issued only to a passenger-type vehicle, but yet they charge me a commercial rate,” Hutchinson said.

It’s a common problem we hear about all the time: E-ZPass users from all across the country complain online, saying things like:

* “E-ZPass has been ripping me off for years.”

* “They are a bunch of crooks and run massive scams.”

* “Twice it has sent me a fine notice and a photo that SHOWS my transponder in the window.”

Hartman said E-ZPass actually drained her account without telling her.

“There’s still $15 outstanding,” Hartman said. “So when I was going down the New Jersey Turnpike, everything was saying ‘not paid.’”

Hartman said E-ZPass took money out of her personal account to cover her husband’s business account. And that’s not all. E-ZPass then fined her for the mix-up.

“I think there’s a lot of issues. I think they really need to fine-tune their system,” Hartman said.

Experts say a big part of the problem is that there’s no one, unified E-ZPass system. Different agencies — from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to the Port Authority and the New Jersey Turnpike — oversee E-ZPass accounts, and there are no plans to change that.

Are you alarmed by this report? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …

  • John

    I think that it’s Bogus to charge you a $1.00 monthly membershiip fee and then charge you $1.00 for a “Statement fee.”

    This is BS

  • Robert Weisenfeld

    It should surprise no one that regional toll authorities have taken unfair advantage. They operate as public monopolies, after all, and have been allowed to hold E-ZPass customers to an unreasonably one-sided contract, which includes the following unconscionable terms:

    1) An indemnity clause which makes individual tag holders liable for all costs, damages and losses resulting from their use of E-ZPass, while simultaneously insulating toll agencies from any parallel obligation to tag holders;
    2) A clause making tag holders liable for collection costs on their accounts, including the cost of the agency’s attorneys’ fees in the event the matter winds up in court;
    3) A clause assigning the risk of loss to tag holders for charges incurred by a transponder thief prior to agency notification of the theft. The original NYS Thruway EZPass customer service agreement capped this liability at $50, but the cap was eliminated in 1999 when regional toll authorities developed a common customer service agreement.

    If you think that toll customers are being taken advantage of, it’s because we are. It’s time for metro area drivers to demand reforms, including a consumer friendly customer service agreement.

    Bob from Bayside

    • Charlie Sheen

      Bob, this was the most informative, intelligent comment I have read in these comment sections.

      • Roxanne Hartman

        BRAVO! Robert!

  • Lois B. Morris

    I have NY E-Zpass and for the last four years I have received violation notices for somebody with a vanity license plate similar to mine who runs the tolls. I have a mountain of correspondence to E-Zpass, to which I never receive a response, in which I state the error and, from information given to me at Motor Vehicles, how to find out the correct information. Still, everytime the other car (a pickup truck, I believe) runs a toll, I get the violation. Phone calss get me nowhere either.

  • Sophia

    We have a business and on 3 separate occasions in Oct, 2011 at the Outerbridge crossing NJ/NYwe were charged $18.50 for our pick up truck.
    The toll is $7.50. I have requested a refundfor the 3 over charges. I was told to return the transponder to have it adjusted and I did. After numerous calls we still have Not RECEIVED OUR $31.50. It is not a lot of money, but if they do this to a number of cars a day it certainly adds up. Very disgusted with the whole situation. Over priced. poor roads and corruption in the agency. Shame on them.

  • Tomm

    Which states have monthly fees for having teh EX-pass transponder? NJ has had a $1 per month fee from looking at my past statements. Just a cost, not a rip-off, for me.

  • Namewitheld44

    I have E-Zpass. have had it for 14 years. I have had one or two errors ONLY in the thousands of transactions I have completed. Roxanne – you need to take a pill. Obviously you are a frustrated patron who needs special care and someone who starts to insult others whom seem NOT to have a problem with E-ZPass. Most people who have E-ZPass DO look at their statements. Most people who have E-ZPass do NOT have problems. Having worked with some toll agencies in the past, for every one legitimate E-ZPass problems, there are hundreds of other pseudo problems, like Roxanne’s or that other guy who ‘does not have ADHD (according to Roxanne, the rest of must have it if we need E-ZPass). How about the guy who says he gets charged $16? WHY NOT – HE’s GOT A TRAILER!! Does he want to be charged for a car (two axles) when he actually has three (or more)? E-ZPass managers can be very , VERY reasonable and lots of leeway – if they have the slightest doubt in the system and it appears the customer MAY have been wronged, the problem with the E-ZPass account is fixed immediately.

    • Dave

      Obviously a troll who works for E-ZPass.

      • Joe

        sniff sniff you smell that???? Smells like a troll.

    • Roxanne Hartman

      Thank you for the reply Namewithheld44. I just took my pill, LOL! I had no idea that you spoke to the other 40,000,000 people that have E-ZPass. Next time I will check with you first. Damm that was a good pill! I suggest you take a sleeping pill and stay asleep, lol.

      PS: Not that it means anything to you, nah forget it won’t mean anything, lol

  • Mike1234

    Not mentioned in the article is that if you travel on any of the MTAB&T bridges or tunnels with an E-ZPass that is NOT issued by NY, you will also be paying more than an E-ZPass customer with a NY issued tag. I agree that this type of pricing model is unfair to consumers since it is: A) very hard for them to find out that these rules exist and B) almost forces people to get multiple E-ZPasses just to benefit from these discounts which is contrary to the simplicity E-ZPass was supposed to offer.

    Finally, I have had an E-ZPass since it first came to the NY area and have not had the types of problems described here. It is critical that people keep their license plate data current with E-ZPass to avoid getting these violation notices.

    • Roxanne Hartman

      Mike report any of you issues to Robert Sinclair of AAA. He is in need of more doumentation to get E-ZPass straight.

      • Mike1234

        As I mentioned, I personally have not had any issues. But, I am not saying that E-ZPass is perfect – no complex computerized system is. However, experience has shown that the vast majority of problems people face are due to human error and not a system error. If your plate is on file, you will not get a violation notice unless you let your account balance run negative.

        I am not sure why the article implies that people’s E-ZPass problems have gotten worse with skyrocketing gas prices. Perhaps their frustration has increased, but I see no connection between gas prices and the number or types of problems people would have with E-ZPass.

        Millions of people use E-ZPass every day without any reported problems. That is not to say that these people are not having problems, but we need to put this into perspective. And, of course, if someone does call with a problem, E-ZPass should strive to make things right.

        • Roxanne Hartman

          My issues and many others Mike, are part of a lawsuit with them. They are extensive. I did not have any cooperation on the phone with the employees. They were in LaLa land, or were they? Than out of the clear blue sky after speaking on my husband’s Commercial Trucking account and our personal account, since E-ZPass was in exsistance, I was no longer allowed to speak. I emailed EZ-Pass with the issue and they in turn, again wanted my husband to authorize me to speak by submitting a fax saying so. Guess what Mike? I still can’t speak. Yes E-Zpass is a great idea, but it is only as great as the people that control the maintenance, possibly IT, and the customer reps in the office. That’s right Mike, “That is not to say people are not having any problems.” That is also what this is about making people aware that they should take the time to check if they care. I bet that there is a very large percentage of people that don’t check.. One thing about fuel prices, as I pay $10,000 a month for diesel, I know what to expect each time we fill up. The out of state E-ZPass customers did not expect to pay higher prices in other states. There was no disclosure. Also yes Mike there are millions of people using it everyday with no reported problems. The key thing is this, but are they checking and do they even care. We are the people that care.
          Thank you for your comment and I hope E-ZPass stays good to you.

          • Kaush

            How do yo make the assumption that people who use EZPass and dont have problems do not check their statements/ I have had an account for the last ten years or so and have always checked the monthly statements. I have had no problems.

            What I dont like about the system that the tags are charged at different rates depending on where you got them from. I had to get a tag from PANYNJ to get the discounted rate plans.

            What the CBS story does not point out is what percentage of customers face problems or errors? Like me there are probably 100s of customers who have not faced any issues – and that doesnt mean we dont check our statements!

  • Deborah12

    I am exasperated with EZ Pass. It used to be that I was overcharged at least once or twice in each statement and then I would report it and they would reimburse me. Last year, I submitted complaints of overcharges and received no response. In my November statement I had at least six mistakes and I keep calling on it and they never pay me back. I would like to know who I could report them to because I continue to be cheated without any recourse. If any knows, lmk.

    • Roxanne Hartman

      Deborah as I told Mike above your comment, report any of you issues to Robert Sinclair of AAA. He is in need of more doumentation to get E-ZPass straight.

      I called CBS for help on this and I was on the segment that aired hoping that it would help. E-ZPass right now, in my opinion, is laughing at us all the way to the bank.

      • Deborah Romero

        Thank you Roxanne. Did not have time to read all the posts. I agree! They are ripping me off. I would not mind going on air with this myself. Thank you for the AAA contact. Will do.

    • evan

      After waiting for 45 minutes on the phone, i reached ez pass and the lady was kind enough to remove the late fees and just charged me the regular toll fees, which was $2. (so have your credit card ready).

      1 late fee after another became my nitemare. just give them a call but do it at a time when you can really wait on the phone. (press ‘0’ to reach customer service).

      good luck.

  • LOL

    you gave up your ezpass tag because ezpass made a mistake?! you are stupid it will cost you a lot more in gas oh wait the gas station ripped you off too so dump the car and get a horse at least there honest i have never had a problem with ezpass its very simple just (1) register your plate with them so that if the transponder does not read they will know its not a toll evader and send you a new tag and (2) SLOW DOWN your tag cant be read at 50 mph on a regular toll booth

  • Bullett

    Another good reason why I avoid bridges & tunnels in NYC. I use PATH, faster, cheaper.

  • sleazy pass ripoff

    i have calling it sleazy pass for years. i am going to buy one fo the license plate covers that reflect the light from the camera so they cant get your plate

  • jean

    I have used EZ-Pass fir several years and not had a problem with it. I always slow down to the suggested speed or less when approaching the cameras. Also, when going through one of the converted toll booths, I make sure the display says “Paid” before proceeding.

    Twice it did not so I pulled over and called the number on the back of the transponder. Both times, they replaced it because the battery had died.

    I also make sure there is plenty of room between me and the vehicle ahead of me.

    If you are being overcharged, have the transponder replaced. Mistakes happen. It would not surprise me if there are incorrectly programmed ones out there.

  • martin plotkin


  • nunu4692

    I believe ezpass should be removed or deleted from the system so to speak. Do you know how much money you will save? ALOT, n its money u can spend to help the economy, thats how i look at it. All of this cuz the gov cant tax those service, but it can tax everytime u buy something

  • steve

    E-Z pass is great (I like the one that gave up his tag…I only wait 5 minutes LOL)
    Try going to NYC and getting on the CASH line or getting out of NYC during rush hour ( its more like a 20 minute wait). Good nite all

  • Zip Zipperson

    Stop the hate…EZ Pass is good, not perfect…check your statements and play the game if you want to participate. Just another story to catch your intrest.

  • Roxanne Hartman

    Sure it would be a wonderful system if it worked properly. Most people put their E-ZPass statements away and never look at them, why should you look, you most likely won’t remember what you did. What a wonderful way for a corporation to get one over on us. After doing this segment for CBS I hope more people pay attention if they are concerned. But I am really starting to feel most people won’t care because they will feel they can’t do anything about it just like a ATM charge. The E-ZPass system is not working properly. I think of the one business that I worked for in NJ in which I maintained 70 vehicle’s E-ZPasses, the CFO said don’t bother to check it just pay it. Thinking about that now I know they lost a lot of money after what I saw them do to my husband’s commercial account and mine. Thank you CBS for letting me partiscipate in this air.

    • Roxanne Hartman

      Remember E-ZPass loves inept people. Customers with simple accounts seem, from what I see in this thread, disinterested. E-ZPass loves you. They will one day get you blind. But that is ok you don’t it mind it happening. Like I said they love you. But accounts that run in the thousands a month there are a lot of red flags. I thought, not that is would make a difference, the gentle man that gave back his E-ZPass was cool. He doesn’t have ADHD and have to get through the toll plaza in 5 sec. He is patient and will take the 2 mins. It’s kind of like that person that passes you speeding, and where did it get him? You are right behind him at the traffic light, lol!

  • victor

    2 points. When involved with the Government, one should not expect too much. I do exaclty as they request and I have not had any problems with them since the beginning of their existence. Yet, I see cars speed through the toll and not slow down as requested. I have been in taxi’s that do not have their transponders attached to their window. They just flash them. Whe something goes wrong and they send me a ticket, I return it with my account # and they fix it. It’s like dealing with a credit card company. Pay attention and do it their way or forget about it. But, don’t complain. It’s a great idea. You stnd in line. Not me

  • FiOS-Dave

    We;ve been using EZ Pass since its inception and have never had a problem.
    We check our monthly statements on line and have never found a discrepancy.
    If time is money, then EZ Pass has saved us a bundle!
    Maybe there should be a Federal pass for Federal roads. It would be nice to have a universal pass, just as it would for driver’s licenses, but we will never see that in our lifetimes!

  • David Turk

    It’s a wonderful system. Don’t kill it, fix it.

    • Tommy44

      If it’s so “wonderful” why fix it?

  • Jeff Green

    Wow, we have an NJ E-Zpass even though we are Maryland residents. When I applied years ago, MD did not offer one, so I randomly selected NJ and have had it ever since.

    I was going to switch to Virginia since NJ started charging a monthly fee and VA doesn’t but since NYC is my number one driving destination and NJ is is the largest toll portion of my drive north, maybe not.

    But this BS needs to be fixed!

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