Consumer Alert

Getting credit for a $2 toll mistake takes persistence

By Mitch Lipka
Globe Correspondent / November 7, 2010

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Q. I’ve been trying to correct a $2 toll collection error for my E-ZPass since August. What makes this more difficult is that my account is with New York’s toll collection system (E-ZPass), but the transaction took place in Massachusetts (Fast Lane).

I’ve called and written E-ZPass Customer Service and they turned down the request citing “the toll transaction in dispute was recorded electronically.’’ I do not dispute that, but the system recorded the transaction incorrectly. The Fast Lane folks are sympathetic, but they tell me that they cannot access my account nor do anything to investigate or correct my problem.

Chris DeMers, Boston

A. After a couple of victories getting back many hundreds of dollars for consumers, your $2 was a no-less-noble cause. Principle is worth something, and this situation was ridiculous.

It took a bit of explaining to even get the New York folks to pay attention.

A few days later, they resolved the matter with an e-mail that didn’t answer the “why’’ or “how’’ questions that were asked both verbally and by e-mail.

“Please advise Chris DeMers that the E-ZPass Operations Office of the New York State Thruway Authority has credited $2 to his New York E-ZPass account,’’ a Thruway spokesperson e-mailed. “It was concluded that the erroneous billing was the result of a technical error involving the New York-issued E-ZPass tags on the vehicle and the Fast Lane equipment on the Massachusetts Turnpike.’’

Kudos for not giving up — even over $2. Persistence in the face of great frustration is a challenge. In this case, the principle was worth the effort. You don’t want to spend $50 to get back $2, but if it’s just a matter of writing letters and following up with a phone call or two, why not?

Follow Chris’s lead. Document your claim. When it’s black and white like that, your chance of winning increases significantly. Sometimes it just takes a little nudge from some outside force to make sure someone sees it.

Mitch Lipka is the Consumer Ally for AOL’s and lives in Worcester. He can be reached at