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Wednesday 24 May 2017

Toll Road Operator Infringements

By: Tom McIntosh

The peak body for Financial Counsellors in Victoria, the Financial and Consumer Rights Council (FCRC), and Money Magazine are calling on Transurban to change their out-dated and unfair toll enforcement system.

Last financial year, Victoria’s toll road operators referred 1.2 million unpaid tolls to Victoria Police for infringement notices to be issued to Victorians.

Toll road operators are making huge profits, with the state government acting as their debt collector at the tax-payer’s expense. If a driver misses the short period to pay their toll, it quickly escalates through the infringements system and one unpaid trip turns into a $345 infringement, with the risk of prison attached.
 
Victorians who don’t have a valid travel pass, receive bundles of costly and confusing paperwork from toll road operators. Every day driven on a private road results in a separate letter, users are quickly slugged with admin fees.

If drivers use two private toll roads in a day (Citylink and Eastlink), two letters follow. Within five days Victorians may receive 10 letters, all with separate admin fees. This changes a $25 toll for the week to over $200.

A wrong address, an overseas trip, a failed credit card, poor English skills or time in hospital can leave people with thousands of dollars of jacked up bills.
 
The toll road operators must come out of the stone age and follow the banks, water and energy companies and improve their customer service and hardship programs so that thousands of Victorians are not unnecessarily suffering.

It is not acceptable in 2017 for Citylink to have its hardship policy hidden in its website with no contact telephone number and only an email address to submit requests. In addition, the available hardship arrangements are limited and completely out of step with those in other industries.

 

The following quotes are attributable to FCRC Manager of Policy and Campaigns Tom McIntosh.

“The fact that 1.2 million toll road infringement notices went out last financial year shows that the toll enforcement system is completely unfair and needing a complete overhaul.”

“Citylink and Eastlink show no compassion to Victorians circumstances, they don’t care or how or why a situation came about, they just want their money.”

“The toll road operators must take responsibility for collecting their own debts and applying standard industry hardship policies, instead of referring unpaid tolls to the infringement system, which slugs customers with hugely inflated fees.”

“If energy, bank, water or phone companies acted like this there would be uproar, it is completely outrageous.”

“Phone providers don’t send a different bill for every phone call, Banks don’t issue an invoice for every swipe of a credit card, why do we tolerate our road operators doing this.”

“We are sick of Financial Counsellors having to deal with the mess. Victorians present daily with piles of bills that they don’t know how to deal with because they can’t get any help from the toll operators.”

“This can happen to any Victorian motorist, it is in all of our interests this business model is stopped.”

 

FCRC is the peak body for Financial Counsellors in Victoria.

Financial counsellors provide information, support and advocacy to people in financial difficulty.

 

ENDS
Media Contacts
Tom McIntosh
Manager: Policy and Campaigns
Financial and Consumer Rights Council
0434401109