BAYVILLE, N.J. - EZ Pass is supposed to mimic its name: easy. Easy to use, easy to pay and easy to get discounts.
But our investigation found you need to check your EZ Pass bills very carefully.
Rachel Kelly and her husband got an eye-opener on their New Jersey EZ Pass bill in August.
"He saw on his bill that he was being charged as a Class 3 vehicle at this Berkely EZ Pass toll in Bayville," Kelly said.
A Class 3 vehicle in New Jersey means three axles, and neither of the Kelly's two Hyundais have that.
"It was three times the amount," said Kelly. "It's a 50 cent toll. I was charged sometimes $1.45, sometimes $1.55."
The Kellys thought it was an isolated incident, but it wasn't. The couple found nearly two dozen overcharges on other bills. One time their vehicle was billed as a Class 6. After seeing there was no big rig in their driveway, we contacted New Jersey Turnpike officials.
They began their own investigation. They said they found "equipment problems" at the Berkely Toll Plaza in Bayville. They said it reviewed every transaction there in 2017.
The turnpike officials said from February to July there were 1,900 mismatched transactions.
The amount overcharged was, on average, $1, depending on the time of day.
A check of your EZ Pass Bill may raise additional eyebrows due to EZ Pass discounts. Almost all of the 16 states that utilize it only give discounts for in-state transponders. A recent study by AAA Northeast called it EZ Pass' dirty little secret.'
"I'd venture not many people are paying attention to those things," said Jana Tidwell with AAA Mid-Atlantic. "We set them up for ease of use and then we don't go back to them."
Travel the New Jersey Turnpike from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to the Pennsylvania Turnpike with your PA pass and you'll pay $5.45, not the $4.15 New Jersey EZ pass holders get during off-peak hours.
In New York, at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, out of state EZ Pass holders will pay $17, versus $11.52 for an MTA-issued EZ Pass.
It seems each state expects drivers to get an EZ Pass from participating states.
"That's just not practical," said Tidwell. "It's cost prohibitive and you'd never see out of your windshield with all those transponders."
There is one state that will give discounts to out-of-state EZ Pass holders and that's Pennsylvania.
AAA has asked the Department of Transportation to review the discount system.
As for that Berkely toll, the NJ Turnpike officials said EZ Pass holders who were overcharged will be getting a credit in the coming days.
Send a breaking news alert
Report a correction or typo
Learn more about the 6abc apps