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Drivers On Northwest Parkway Sent To Collections Before Receiving Bill

DENVER (CBS4)- Collectors are contacting drivers accused of not paying tolls on the Northwest Parkway.

Along the toll, cameras take a picture of your license plate and will bill customers later. CBS4 found customer complaining that they never got a bill before ending up in collections, or had a hard time resolving the issue.

John-Paul Maxfield of Denver was stunned when he got an $80 collection notice for a toll along the Parkway. He admits he paid the bill late. But it still ended up in collections as unpaid and he's now questioning the charges.

"The jump from about $2 to $80 dollars seems pretty ridiculous," Maxfield says. "I don't know how you justify that."

Maxfield tried to clear it up over the phone but says he was met with resistance, hung up on, and just wanted an itemized breakdown of the exact $80 charge.

The Better Business Bureau says they've have received 29 complaints this year about Northwest Parkway. The BBB says they average 50 inquiries a month from consumers asking why they're getting collection letters.

Erin O'Neill with the Denver-Boulder BBB office says Northwest Parkway has a "D-" rating.

Northwest Parkway
Northwest Parkway (credit: CBS)

"The complaints are: Collections issues, billings. Many (consumers) say they don't get their first bill but  are sent to collections and get really confused," said O'Neill.

CBS4's Jennifer Brice spoke with the CEO of Northwest Parkway, Pedro Costa, who didn't want to talk on camera but says he personally works with every customer to resolve each complaint.

The Northwest Parkway is a 75-mile per hour toll road, connecting E-470 at I-25 in the north metro Denver area, with U.S. 36 in Broomfield, Colorado.

In June 2014, CBS4 talked to a woman who received a $232 bill from a collection agency for using the toll road she claimed she had never driven on.

Costa would only talk about the issue by phone. Costa explained that his company first sends out four bills over a four month span to customer. If the bill isn't paid, they pass it on to a collection agency for an additional three notices.

Costa says sometimes manual clerical errors can send bills to a wrong customer. He also says that mailing addresses for the bills come from license plate records sometimes not updated by drivers.

Maxfield says it shouldn't be so frustrating to pay a bill. He believes the collections agency and the private toll company are preying on people.

"Their incentive in this situation is for you to actually not pay the bill," Maxfield.

The CEO of Northwest Parkway says 16,000 cars drive the Parkway daily. They send out 2,500 bills daily.

The BBB recommends consumers educate themselves about the "terms of use" on the Northwest Parkway website.

Jennifer Brice is a reporter with CBS4 focusing on crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Jenn.

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