Outrage Over E-ZPass Late Fees Prompts Class Action Lawsuit
WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Outrage over huge administrative fees assessed against toll violators in New Jersey has led to a class action lawsuit.
The lawsuits filed in federal and New Jersey state courts are all about how much you pay when, for a variety of reasons, your E-ZPass doesn't work on the New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority believes its fees are legitimate while drivers think the state is lining its pockets.
"It went through four different toll booths so we have $200 worth of fines," said Long Island resident Sarah Garcia. "I was so annoyed."
Garcia says the tolls were only 50 cents and now knows drivers are charged the toll and an administrative fee. She's not a member of the class action suit filed last December.
"If they're going to collect fines like that, I'd be happy to pay it if they're going to send me devices that work or the tags like they have in Florida or brand new toll booths," Garcia said.
The lawsuit contends the Turnpike Authority has overcharged drivers when the E-ZPass malfunctions. It says the overcharging started in 2011 when the Turnpike Authority raised fees to $50.
The lawsuit says processing violators costs less and the fees are generating revenue.
But the Turnpike Authority says the cost to operate the violation system is more than the $50 it currently charges and believes it will prevail in the lawsuit.
"Livid. It's like highway robbery really," Garcia said. "To be honest, I didn't know I could call until a couple weeks ago -- someone tweeted me -- so I think since 2011, I've most likely paid about $1,000 in these assessment fines and now that I know it, it makes me even more angry."
Commuters started complaining about cashless tolls last year -- automatic draft failures, faulty E-ZPass boxes and no way to know when an account balance was low all led to massive fees.
"Where does the money go? That's what I want to know," said Garcia.
The lawsuit wants administrative fees reduced and for excess fees from the last seven years to be repaid to drivers.
Garcia says after a call, her fees were wiped from her account, then showed back up and were wiped a second time.
Before the change in 2011, administrative fees on the roadways were only $25.
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