- Posted April 5, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
A $12.40 toll bill from the Illinois Tollway turned into a $712.40 toll bill in a month's time.
While travelling from Thornton, CO to Battle Creek, MI over the Christmas & New Year Holiday, my husband and I, with our 2 small children, used the Illinois "Express" toll lane, assuming a bill would be sent to us in the mail to pay. We left December 20 and returned January 1, 2012. We did not receive any notice from the Illionois Tollway until the end of January, at which point our $12.40 toll bill had become a $212.40 toll bill. We had 10 tolls total and each had accrued a $20 penalty. I contacted the Illinois Tollway to inquire about the added penalties and was advised that we did not pay the original toll bill of $12.40 within the 7 day time frame they allot before adding fines. I advised them that I had never received any statement from them and they said they do not send statements, you are just supposed to "go online and pay". We were told there are signs behind the tolls that state this. We did not see any of these signs, and I apologized and asked the representative if there was any way that they could reduce the penalties, as we are from out of state and it was over the Christmas Holiday. I was told there was nothing that they could do other than have me request a hearing. Also, that they do not offer payment plans and if the bill was not paid within the next 14 days it would gain additional penalties. We requested a hearing. A form was sent to us in the mail with one side dedicated to my "case". I explained all of the above and even included a check for the original amount of $12.40 as a sign of good faith. The check was returned to me with a letter stating they could not accept payment because a hearing was requested. The hearing date was Feb. 28, 2012. Mar. 1, the "Hearing Officer" ruled that our toll bill was to remain the full $212.40. We received this ruling on or about Mar. 8, 2012. The full amount was due on Mar. 13, 2012. We did not have money to pay the full amount, and they do not offer payment options. Failure to pay the full amount by Mar. 13, 2012 resulted in an additional $50.00 penalty for each of the 10 tolls. Our total amount due after Mar. 13 is $712.40.
We noticed a clause on the ruling that stated each side had 35 days to appeal the ruling. We contacted Illinois Tollway to again see if there was any sort of payment options available due to the now incredibly high amount. They again said no. We asked for an appeal. They informed us that we would have to physically go to the county court and file an appeal with the clerk. We are in Colorado, so basically they said there was nothing we could do. They did mention though that we could make payments toward this balance weekly/monthly, but it would not stop them from handing us over to Collections if the bill was not paid in full within their time frame. We asked how long that would be and we were literally told "I do not know".
I just think the 700% inflation of a $12.40 toll bill is completely insane. I understand, to an extent, why tollways enforce such penalties, but an added $700 in fines in a month is absolutely outrageous and what I consider, quite literally, highway robbery. Also, I cannot believe such an organization would be so unwilling to work with someone on payment. What makes this sort of practice truly appalling, though is that they have the power to not only damage your credit rating, but suspend your driver's license and registration which will increase insurance premiums. Play by their rules or you are screwed.
This is not how Colorado Tollway operates, and I'm sure every state is different. I just found this experience eye opening, especially in light of the 99% vs 1%. Thank you for your time.