45 cent toll turns into $43

August 3, 2012 1:49:35 PM PDT
Sherie Simpson travels the Triangle Expressway every day to and from work, but when the new road opened in January, drivers weren't charged for all sections.

Still, drivers who used the sections that were temporarily free got bills for zero dollars. Officials said that was done to get drivers used to being billed to use the toll road.

"[They] started maybe March/February with the zero dollar bills," said Simpson. "[For] several months, we got all zeros, and I didn't open it because I thought it was junk mail at that point.  When you get zero dollar bills, you just kind of throw them away."

But recently, Simpson did open the July bill and was shocked to see a $43.45 charge.

"I freaked out because I was looking at it because it says it's all zeros.  How could I have a 43 dollar bill if every item says zero? So, then I had to go back and look," said Simpson.

Simpson realized that buried in all the zeros in March was one 45 cent toll.

"They accessed a $6 processing fee on the next month, which again I didn't open because I just assumed it was zero. Then following that, we got a $25 civil penalty and then another $6 processing fee. And long story short, my 45 cent toll turned into $43.45," Simpson explained.

Simpson's 45 cent toll from March grew almost 1000 percent in a matter of four months with all the added processing fees and a civil penalty for not paying the toll on time.

She tried to plead her case with the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, but said she was told she still had to pay the $43.45.

"I only had a 30-day window from the time of the toll to dispute it and I missed my window, so I really didn't have a choice but to go ahead and pay it," said Simpson.

Now, Simpson has some advice for drivers using the Triangle Expressway.

"Open your bills," she said.

And no matter how small the toll - even if it's just 45 cents - make sure you pay it on time.

"Be aware of your charges, because there are going to be multiple charges on the same road," said Simpson.

Once we brought Simpson's situation to the attention of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, they did reach out to her and waived the $25 civil penalty, along with one of the processing fees. Simpson just had to pay one $6 processing fee.

Plus, she also signed up for the NC Quick Pass, so tolls are automatically deducted from her account.

Officials also said that now the highway is open all the way down to Highway 64 in Apex, tolling is in full force and no one should get a bill for zero dollars.

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