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CBS 2 Investigates: Living Through An E-ZPass Nightmare

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- E-ZPass is supposed to be easier, faster and cheaper. But how would you feel if you knew the driver next to you was paying less for the same service?

When millions of drivers signed up for EZ-Pass they thought it meant the end of throwing money out the window.

"They charged us, with fines, about $100," Roxanne Hartman told CBS 2's Kristine Johnson.

"Every time I've crossed the bridge, they've charged me 16 bucks," Jeff Hutchinson said.

"I got a ticket for $175," added Robert Socolof.

"There has been no bigger issue as far as our members are concerned than E-ZPass, the inconveniences," said Robert Sinclair of AAA.

And that's not all. CBS 2 has discovered on at least one local roadway some drivers are paying more than others.

"It really seems contrary to the convenience that was touted as being associated with E-ZPass," Sinclair said.

For example, if you drive the entire length of the New Jersey Turnpike – mid-day -- you'll pay $10.40 in tolls using an E-ZPass issued in New Jersey.

But drive with an E-ZPass issued by another state, including New York or Connecticut, and you'll pay nearly $4 more for a total of $13.85.

"It's really unfair, we think, to motorists," Sinclair said.

E-ZPass (credit: CBS 2)

Not everyone drives the entire stretch of the road, but even if you're going a few exits you'll still end up paying more than your New Jersey neighbor.

"That's not how it's supposed to work," Socolof said.

"There's probably a lot of people who don't realize these things are happening," Hartman added.

CBS 2 first exposed the E-ZPass problems, including overcharges, fines and technical glitches several months ago. Now, drivers tell us little has improved. For some it's only gotten worse because of skyrocketing gas prices.

"I think the idea is a great idea, they just can't deliver," Socolof said.

Socolof said he's so fed up with E-ZPass he'd rather sit in traffic and pay more than continue using it. He gave his E-ZPass tag back in protest.

"I wait an extra four or five minutes every time I cross the bridge. I'm idling, I'm polluting, I'm wasting my time, but I don't trust the system," Socolof said.

Hutchinson said he feels the same way. He said he's been charged nearly three times what he's supposed to pay, and it's happened more than once.

"My tag has been issued only to a passenger-type vehicle, but yet they charge me a commercial rate," Hutchinson said.

It's a common problem we hear about all the time: E-ZPass users from all across the country complain online, saying things like:

* "E-ZPass has been ripping me off for years."

* "They are a bunch of crooks and run massive scams."

* "Twice it has sent me a fine notice and a photo that SHOWS my transponder in the window."

Hartman said E-ZPass actually drained her account without telling her.

"There's still $15 outstanding," Hartman said. "So when I was going down the New Jersey Turnpike, everything was saying 'not paid.'"

Hartman said E-ZPass took money out of her personal account to cover her husband's business account. And that's not all. E-ZPass then fined her for the mix-up.

"I think there's a lot of issues. I think they really need to fine-tune their system," Hartman said.

Experts say a big part of the problem is that there's no one, unified E-ZPass system. Different agencies -- from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to the Port Authority and the New Jersey Turnpike -- oversee E-ZPass accounts, and there are no plans to change that.

Are you alarmed by this report? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below ...


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