Two and a half million Pennsylvania motorists use E-ZPass on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. E-ZPass users get the benefit of cruising through the E-ZPass lane without the worry of fumbling for change, but Jennifer Cherry says her E-ZPass almost cost her hundreds of dollars.
“A little over $300,” said Cherry, of Carlisle.
Cherry’s E-ZPass bills from January to April show she was charged a $10 violation toll for her ride from the Carlisle Interchange to the Harrisburg East Interchange, a toll that is normally a few dollars. She checked her E-ZPass account after noticing her credit card was charged.
“I was like, wow, what’s happening here?” said Cherry.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission established violation tolls as a disincentive.
“We don’t want people to cheat the system,” said Carl DeFebo, a Turnpike spokesman.
Violation tolls are used to flag motorists trying to get a cheaper toll, but there are a few reasons why valid E-ZPass users can receive a violation toll.
“If your tag is not properly read, if it’s not properly mounted, or if it’s being used in a vehicle that the license plate is not on your account,” said DeFebo.
Transponders should be mounted on the front windshield under the rear view mirror. If your windshield is tinted, it is recommended the transponder be placed below the tinting.
“There are also certain types of vehicles that require a bumper transponder due to metallic tinting that can block the signal. Those cars are normally flagged when someone signs up,” said DeFebo.
Motorists who prefer not to mount their transponders and hold them up to the window when they go through the lane must make sure they are doing it at the right time.
“It reads it right underneath the sign, so if you look up, the small white box underneath the E-ZPass sign is our reader. We call it the pizza box. It’s about 20 yards before the toll booth,” said DeFebo.
Make sure your account is up to date with payment information and all license plates associated with the account. If that information is not up to date, it can trigger a violation toll.
As for Jennifer, it appears her nearly 10-year-old transponders may have been the issue.
“They do have a shelf life,” said DeFebo.
“I called [the Pennsylvania Turnpike and] they acknowledge there was an issue. They sent out two additional transponders and I have to send back the old ones, and [they said] it will be resolved within three to four weeks,” said Cherry.
Cherry says the Turnpike is working on refunding her the money she overpaid.
The Turnpike launched an E-ZPass management app this year to help customers monitor their accounts.
Account holders can dispute charges by calling the E-ZPass Customer Service Center at 877-736-6727.