Troubleshooters: South Jersey drivers say E-ZPass defect resulted in big fines

SICKLERVILLE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Many drivers are up in arms complaining about a problem with E-ZPass that's costing them money and headaches. They say a defect at a South Jersey toll booth is resulting in erroneous violation notices, duplicate payments and hefty fines.

The toll booth in question is the one to get onto the Atlantic City Expressway from Berlin-Cross Keys Road.

"I use it every day," said Keith Dailey of Sicklerville, New Jersey.

"Basically that's the thoroughfare for anyone if you're going to Atlantic City, New York, Philadelphia," said Judith Coles, also of Sicklerville. "For years, I've used that toll. I did not get any notices, not one notice."

But for the past many months, the violation notices kept coming, one after another and another. In fact, Coles received five notices in just one day.

"This is just some of them. I have tons of them," she said.

Dailey gets violation notices for that toll, too.

"I've tried changing tags between cars. I've held the tags out the windows. I've held the tags on the dashboard," he said.

Dailey said the toll booth isn't registering his E-ZPass. Coles told us it isn't reading her cash payments.

They aren't the only ones complaining. On Next Door, many others report the same issue.

"I don't mind paying the tolls over again," said Coles.

The toll just went up from 40-cents to 60-cents. But each violation comes with a $50 administrative fee.

"I know it has to go over into over $1,000," she said. "And I've been trying to dispute them and have not had any success. I give them my phone number, I give them my email address. I even give them my fax number, no reply whatsoever. At this point, I don't know what to do."

The agency in charge of that toll plaza is the South Jersey Transportation Authority.

At the Troubleshooters request, the agency inspected and did find a problem between the electronic reader and the authority's toll collection system.

The good news is the SJTA said the intermittent problem has now been fixed.

The issue was a faulty link at one of the westbound booths and the lane controller has been upgraded from copper to fiber.

"I had paid $150 not to have my vehicle registration suspended," said Dailey. "But I know there's people who may not have the $150, especially nowadays who still aren't working."

The Transportation Authority also said Dailey's account has been rectified and it is working with Coles to resolve hers.

South Jersey Transportation Authority Statement:

-The intermittent technical communication problem has been fixed. While the E-ZPass reader was always reading, there was a single port (lane) that was intermittently not communicating with the system. The faulty link between the E-ZPass reader and the lane controller was upgraded from copper to fiber. The problem impacted a single westbound lane.

- Those patrons who may have experienced a problem at Exit 41 are asked to contact the SJTA at 609-965-6060.

-Once the transaction becomes a "violation", a notice is sent that includes a $50 administrative fee - this fee often get waived as a one-time courtesy, with every case being unique.

-The SJTA has an aggregate violation percentage in the 6-8% range per year along the entire roadway.

-It is very important that license plate numbers are listed on accounts for all vehicles using an E-ZPass tag. It is also important to assure that accounts are in good standing at all times.

More response to the violation notices received by Dailey and Coles:

We believe it was a combination of many factors including the intermittent technical communication problem in the single westbound lane, the lack of a valid license plate listed on a valid E-ZPass account and multiple users on a single account. Also, when an account is in arrears, our toll processor will not allow customers to add additional vehicles. Please be aware the SJTA works daily with patrons of E-ZPass and oftentimes offers a one-time courtesy of waiving administrative fees.
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