New E-ZPass tag? Wrap up the old one

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Western New York man found his E-ZPass toll scanner kept charging him while it was being transported to be discarded.

John Smith got a shock when he swapped out his old E-ZPass tag for a new one—a charge of more than $15 on his old tag that he had shipped off to E-ZPass’s Customer Service Center on Staten Island.

Smith—not his real name to protect his account information—learned the transponders are always on until E-ZPass manually turns them off. That is how Smith got charged—his tag read all the toll barriers between Buffalo and Staten Island.

When Smith received his new tag, it was in a foil pouch, with a self-addressed, prepaid envelope enclosed to return the old transponder, “which was not foil-lined, like the one that arrived with the new tag. A few days later, I received a statement via my email which indicated that I had been charged $15.58.”

After Smith sent his old transponder back via the U.S. Postal Service, E-ZPass told him the $15.48 charge was rung up by the transponder sitting in the back of a mail truck, and as the truck passed through toll barriers between Buffalo and Staten Island, it was read and registered to Smith’s account.

“She explained to me, like oh I see that you had recently exchanged your E-ZPass out for a new one. She said, it looks like the mail truck that your E-ZPass was on picked up all the toll booths along the way, charging my account,” he said.

Smith wonders why the return envelope wasn’t lined.

“I just find it a little strange that when they give you these envelopes to mail these things back in, that they are not foil lined like the ones that are issued to you when they are new,” he said.

A Thruway spokesperson told WIVB that tagholders are supposed to know to wrap unused tags in foil, although Smith said that was not in his return instructions, and the information is not readily on the E-ZPass—New York State Thruway website.

Smith is getting a credit to his E-ZPass account, but it will be in his next billing cycle.

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