A recent story on USA Today asked if car rental companies are profiting from toll roads. The story didn’t convince me one way or the other, but it sure reminded me of my own frustrations with toll road billing. For the most part I’m usually satisfied with the results when I use a toll road. Although I would certainly prefer toll-free roads, being able to avoid traffic and lights, plus arrive at my destination faster often offset the cost. That is, until I get the bill.
Not too long ago I took a trip (in my own car) and decided that the toll was the way to go. It worked out great. I arrived much faster than I would have had I taken the interstate. The toll road offered a “bill me later” lane so that’s what I opted for. A couple of months go by and I get my bill in the mail—with a late fee attached. It’s not like I missed something—it was the first bill. I called the toll company and they said they sent the original bill a few weeks prior (which they hadn’t). I then had to haggle to get the late fee removed. A month later the same exact thing happened!
Last year I received a bill in the mail for a toll that I took in Dallas, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember driving on that road—or even being in Dallas. Then I looked more closely at the bill and noticed the date listed was almost a year prior to the bill date. There was no late fee, but I was shocked that it took an entire year to bill me. It was a nightmare trying to get reimbursed for that from my company. Then, the same thing happened again this year. Wonder if they would be ok with me paying them in one year? My guess is no.
It often happens that I will get charged on my credit card from rental car companies for tolls out of nowhere and have to jump through way too many hoops to get a receipt from them. Typically these are for trips taken a couple of months prior, with the expense reports already turned in and reimbursed. Huge pain, that’s for sure.
Finally, in a non-billing-related mishap, on a trip to New York City my rental car toll pass tag wouldn’t work. This was lovely because I was stuck with a wooden barrier blocking the way in front of me and a row of cars honking behind me with no way out. Because everything is electronic no person was there to help. Luckily after a few minutes a cop saw what was happening and came to help me. Boy was that stressful.
I wish I could say over time the toll process will get better, but I have no reason to believe that based on my experiences. Maybe the transition to electronic billing has not been an easy transition for toll companies which is causing this mess. I just wish there was a more centralized process for dealing with all these tolls, but until that happens I guess I’ll set my billing expectations pretty low.
Readers, what kinds of toll mishaps have you had, billing or otherwise?
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