IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE MANY THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE BEING HOUNDED BY TRANSURBAN FOR HUNDREDS OR THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, OR IF THEY'VE ALREADY GOTTEN A JUDGMENT AGAINST YOU -- or if you are just mad because they are asking you to pay a $12.50 administration fee for an obvious mistaken entry -- please read through the comments below, and email Lisa Marie Comras (firstname.lastname@example.org), who is organizing a class action against Transurban. Her attorneys will contact you and then you'll be able to decide for yourself whether you want to be part of the move to hold Transurban accountable.
According to Emily Miller of Fox 5 DC, Transurban filed 26,000 lawsuits against drivers in 2014 alone. Maybe you're one of those drivers. If you're facing an immediate court date, you might find some good ideas here or here, courtesy of attorney David Bernhard, via Fox 5 DC's Emily Miller. But when that's over, you should still strongly consider joining the class action.
This was meant to be a reply to a comment by Delilah Johnson on my I495 Admin Fee Scam post but for some reason the reply isn't working. So for now I'll just post it here:
Wow. Mark and Delilah, sorry to hear about this. Mark's right -- for them to sit back for three months without telling you that you're doing something wrong, and then to charge you an administrative fee for every single instance, is outrageous. Administratively, it shouldn't cost them any more to send a letter for one offense than for 20. And $12.50 is still too big for one lousy computer-generated letter.
The real problem is that if you end up fighting them on your own, chances are your credit rating will take a hit, because they'll turn it over to collections. But if you're mad and are willing to take them on -- and willing to monitor your credit rating and let the reporting bureaus know that any mark against you is "in dispute," then here's something you might try:
Write a letter, via registered mail, to them at their US Headquarters (they are an Australian outfit) and enclose a check for about $45.55, made out to Transurban Group. On the "memo" line of the check write "Payment in Full", and refer to any number that they gave you in their letter to you (I threw mine out so I don't remember what the letter looks like), or say: "toll plus admin fee dispute" or something like that.
Your letter can say the following:
Via Registered Mail
6440 General Green Way
Alexandria, Virginia 22312
[this is the address for their headquarters -- if the bill they sent you has another address, just use it]
Dear Sir or Madam:
I have received a letter from you informing me that I owe you $33.05 in missed tolls, and $725.00 in "administration fees," for a total of $758.05, for a number of short trips taken on I-495. I dispute this charge for several reasons. First, assuming your information is correct, I was completely unaware of the fact that I was driving on a toll lane; your lanes are poorly marked and you have done little to educate the public about your system. Second, you provided me no notice whatsoever that you would be charging me more than $12 per trip. Third, it is unconscionable that you charge $725 in "administration fees" for the administrative task of notifying me of $33.05 in missed tolls. Fourth, it's particularly unconscionable for you to let the administration fees accumulate, at $12.50 a pop, without notifying me that they were accumulating.
I am enclosing herewith a check for $45.55, which reflects the $33.05 in tolls you say I owe you, plus $12.50 to cover your administrative costs in this matter. Please consider this check to be payment in full for resolution of this dispute.
If they cash the check, then the dispute is over -- they have accepted your settlement offer, and they can't sue you (or if they do, you'll win). If they don't cash the check and turn the matter over to collections (or if they cash the check and turn it over to collections anyway), when the collections people call tell them the matter is in dispute, and that you're waiting to hear back on your settlement offer. If they at some point reject your offer, just invite them to sue you. They won't, because it's just not worth an attorney's time to do that, and it's also far from clear that they are legally justified in charging such a hefty "administration fee" without having given you (or the rest of us) any notice. It's possible that the collections agency will report you to the credit reporting agencies even though you inform them the issue is in dispute. If that happens, and you want to protect your credit rating, you need to contact the credit reporting agencies separately (you can google how to do that).
I note that you say they charged you $725 in administrative fees for 20 trips. It's hard for me to figure out where that number comes from -- my best guess is that they are charging you for 29 trips, and they doubled the administrative fees because you haven't paid yet (since 29 * 12.50 * 2 = 725). So maybe they've sent you two letters; that's why I left it vague with "administrative costs in this matter" at the end of the letter (instead of saying you're paying $12.50 for one letter).
You could also try sending them less money -- e.g. just the $33.05, or even less than that. If they cash the "payment in full" check, you are again home free. But I think it's more likely that they'll cash it if you make a reasonable offer that is tied to the facts of your situation. $45.55 is reasonable because it includes not only the tolls, but a big fat $12.50 administrative fee.
Good luck with this -- whatever path you choose -- and let us know what happens!
Please don't consider this legal advice. If you want that, consult a lawyer. But it is practical advice; it's what I'd do myself in this situation.