ORLANDO, Fla. - Hope Robertson said she was a SunPass customer for almost five years and never had a problem -- until last summer when the SunPass upgrade created two and a half-month backlog of tolls.
Robertson said she cancelled the auto pay function on her SunPass account to keep the deluge of tolls from overdrafting her bank account, but she thought she had paid her account in full.
[CHECK YOUR ACCOUNT: Here’s how to find out if you have been double-billed by SunPass]
"I checked all my accounts and they said all of my payments were done," Robertson said.
In December, she went to put money towards her SunPass account, only to discover she had a negative balance of almost $100.
"My heart started racing," Robertson said. "I'm like either my boyfriend is going somewhere I don't know about, or somebody has stolen my SunPass."
When Robertson took a closer look, she discovered several toll charges for roads she and her boyfriend never even use.
"Definitely not me," she said. "Definitely someone going to work and back in the Orlando area."
But Robertson does not live or work in Orlando. She lives in St. Cloud and works in Kissimmee.
"If you look at all my previous tolls, I only go Kissimmee Park to Osceola Parkway every day," Robertson said. "I usually only use about $80 a month in tolls, and they charged me about $120."
She said she asked SunPass and was given a spreadsheet, which showed her toll charges up and down state roads 417 and 408 -- nearly 20, 30, even 40 miles away from her home.
That's when Robertson said she asked SunPass to send her pictures to prove she drove all those toll roads, but she said they refused.
"The only thing they would tell me is, 'It's from your transponder. It's your problem,'" Robertson said.
News 6 stepped in and asked the Florida Department of Transportation for an escalated review of her account.
Hope said FDOT determined all of the mystery charges were somehow not coming from her transponder, but from a SunPass mini sticker assigned to her account. But she said they could not explain all the far away toll charges and ended up crediting her account for all of them.
"I think that they messed up their backlog and they charged me for somebody else's tolls," Robertson said.
Robertson said she first encountered the problem with SunPass last summer, when a maintenance upgrade to the SunPass computer billing system failed and created a customer service nightmare for hundreds of thousands of drivers.
The issue caused more than two months of backlog of tolls and nearly 330 million transactions to all be charged to customers over the span of a few weeks. News 6 uncovered several problems in the aftermath, including computer glitches, questionable tolls and long wait times for drivers seeking help both on the phone and in person.
Last summer, the Central Florida Expressway (E-Pass) revealed there were more than 2 million SunPass tolls that had the wrong date and time stamps on them.
Just last week, SunPass posted on its website about a possible e-mail scheme to trying to collect on past due tolls.
Now, Toll-By-Plate customers are about to get hit with seven months worth of tolls at once.
The Florida Department of Transportation confirmed to News 6 that the first wave of invoices were sent by mail last week. The agency had originally announced that Toll-By-Plate invoices would be sent out in October, but in late November, officials confirmed they still had not sent out the invoices because they could not guarantee the accuracy of the tolls.
SunPass is giving drivers until March 31 to evaluate and pay their invoices, and is also waiving penalties and fees. SunPass has also created a section on its website that provides information on how to verify and dispute charges, and includes a sample of what the invoice looks like.
News 6 created the SunPass Checkup to create a user-friendly spreadsheet you can use to input and evaluate your toll charges and data.
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