Cashless toll relief turns into debt collection nightmare

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Michael Rainero’s retirement was going along just fine, until a couple of weeks ago when his trips through Grand Island’s cashless tolls made his life miserable.

“I received a bill in August for a dollar and I paid it,” then the next month, Michael received another bill for a dollar in September and he paid that.

But a short time later, after paying the tolls for August and September, the Buffalo grandfather received a letter from a collection agency demanding payment for six tolls in April and May–with $50 late fees tacked on–for a total of $306.

Rainero was aghast, “The whole thing does not make sense. Then I received another bill for $204, I believe, after I received a bill for $306.”

Michael Rainero joined a growing legion of hundreds of New York drivers whose lives have been turned upside down by the cashless tolls on Grand Island, and thousands more who have been dealing with the cashless tolls in the New York City area, where some lawmakers have actually called for bringing back the toll takers.

When Rainero called the collection agency–actually a law firm in New York that handles collections for the Thruway Authority–about these discrepancies, they offered to cut the penalties in half rather than actually investigate his complaint.

“As far as I see it, they never sent me a bill. They are just sending me a bill with accumulated fees, late charges.  So they are turning a six dollar bill into a $306 bill, and it immediately goes to a collection agency.”

Michael was referred directly to the Thruway Authority which does investigate his toll payer complaints.

Settling toll disputes now is important because, unlike as in years past when tolls went uncollected, if a toll bill is not settled the Thruway Authority will send a violation notice to the Department of Motor Vehicles, which can suspend the vehicle’s registration.
 

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