7 On Your Side

FasTrak mistakenly bills Bay Area motorist

Friday, September 17, 2010
One motorist was shocked when he paid cash and then received a bill from FasTrak

One motorist was shocked when he paid cash and then received a bill from FasTrak

About two-thirds of drivers crossing Bay Area bridges now use Fastrak, but thousands more still pay cash. So how do the two mix? Flaws in the electronic system took a big toll on a cash paying customer.

One motorist was shocked when he paid cash and then received a bill from FasTrak.

Scott Mosbaugh hardly ever crosses bay area bridges, so he doesn't use FasTrak so naturally then, he paid cash when he crossed the Carquinez Bridge on the 4th of July.

"The thing said 'paid,' they said have a nice day, have a nice fourth and we continued on to sacramento," he said.

It was all very routine until a couple of weeks later when Scott received a notice in the mail from FasTrak claiming he whizzed through the toll plaza that day without paying.

"You are a toll evader you must pay all this money now," Scott said. "And I'm like, what's going on?"

Bridge cameras had snapped this picture of Scott's license plate and that's supposed to happen only if you don't pay. The notice said he owed the $5 toll plus a $25 penalty.

"I called and I'm all like, what is this? This isn't correct," he said.

FasTrak told Scott he could file an appeal, which he did. Scott explained he paid cash to the toll taker, his wife was a witness in the passenger seat and his sister-in-law was a witness in the car behind. However, FasTrak didn't believe him.

"We reviewed our documents and our data and you're still in violation," he said,

As a courtesy, however, FasTrak said it would forgo the penalty if he'd just pay the $5 toll. Scott says that would be easy, but he didn't like being called a toll evader when he wasn't.

"That's when I called 7 On Your Side and I'm all like, I need some help, please," Scott said.

FasTrak said when Scott crossed the bridge, the system detected an invalid FasTrak toll tag, but Scott doesn't even have a toll tag and never did. So FasTrak dug deeper.

Apparently, the system was reading an invalid toll tag from the lane adjacent to Scott's. It's called a "cross-read." It's a rare glitch, but it did occur 35 times on that bridge on that day.

So FasTrak dropped the charge entirely.

"We have dismissed the violation and that was a little bit of a relief when we got this," Scott said. "Thank you so much, you guys are wonderful."

So how can you prove you paid cash if you are mistakenly labeled a violator? FasTrak says get a FasTrak account you won't have to worry. Scott has a simpler solution: he asks for a receipt.

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Tags:
carquinez bridge, fastrak, 7 on your side, michael finney
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