ABC11's Kaplan: How NC Quick Pass charged me $120 for trips I didn't take

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Yes, even members of the ABC11 I-Team run into trouble.

Like many drivers in the Triangle, I purchased a transponder for our family vehicles to save us money if we ever take the Triangle Expressway or other toll roads that accept NC Quick Pass. It's not a road we take often, but when we do, the Quick Pass definitely comes in handy.

A few months ago, I noticed something off on my credit card statement when NC Quick Pass and the Turnpike Authority continued to charge me $20 to refill the balance on my account.

After logging on to my NC Quick Pass account, I found something even more peculiar: an activity statement showing 154 trips in six months. Add up those transponder readings, I was charged nearly $120 for tolls I never remember passing through!

DRIVING FOR ANSWERS

Fortunately, I knew the video wouldn't lie, so I reached out to the NC Quick Pass Customer Service to investigate.

"We've had a handful of occurrences where transponders were swapped between customers, so you receive one assigned to my account and I receive a transponder assigned to your account. That's what I initially assumed," Angela Queensland, NC Quick Pass Customer Service Manager, told me. "This has never happened before that I'm aware of."

Queensland pulled up the video -- a screen capture of the vehicle passing through the toll -- and indeed, it wasn't my car.

So what happened? According to Queensland, potentially there was a duplicate sent out, but no foul play.

"I have not heard of anyone replicating or counterfeiting a transponder," she said. "It's not a matter of taking a picture of the barcode because the barcode is not the programming on the inside. The computer chip is adhered to the other part of your transponder. That adhesive, when you try to remove that sticker from the vehicle, it will typically break the chip."

The Turnpike Authority has reached out to the driver of the vehicle that was photographed passing through the tolls, but Queensland said that driver has yet to come to the office to test the transponder.

LESSON FOR COMMUTERS

No matter what's behind the mix-up, though, Queensland emphasizes I did the right thing in checking statements and calling out a mistake.

"Just as you review your credit card statement monthly, I would encourage all customers to review their statements and transactions with Quick Pass as well," she said.

So my experience, officials say, is a rare one, but the I-Team also learned that the Quick Pass call center receives a whopping 11,000 calls every week. The majority are related to Bill by Mail, when customers are surprised at the $6 late fee.

Financial reports reviewed by the ABC11 I-Team show toll transactions last year were 12 percent higher than projections, and revenues went up 30 percent to $52.6 million -- $13 million higher than projections.
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