12 HCTRA Toll Invoices:
$61.75 Actual Tolls
$396 HCTRA Administrative Fees ($33 per invoice)
$504 Collection Fees ($42 per invoice)
To date I have paid $138.75 and now owe $823 due to all the added fees and possibly more.
On or around Tuesday, April 10, 2012 it was brought to my attention that the funds on my HCTRA EZ Tag Account ####### had been depleted triggering toll violations (via e-mail). Having recently closed my checking account the credit card linked to my EZ Tag Account was also cancelled leaving no source to replenish my EZ Tag Account. It was an honest mistake.
Not having a credit card to update my EZ Tag Account with, I visited the HCTRA Store off Beltway 8 near Fairmont Parkway on Saturday, April 21, 2012. At that time I was told that they could not accept any cash payments and did not have the authority to dismiss the $396 Administrative Fees and instructed me to contact HCTRA at (281) 875-EASY. After several lengthy phone conversations, e-mails and countless times explaining the exact situation I was told that there was nothing that could be done and that I just needed to pay the fees in full, $457.75. At that time I did not have and still do not have that sum of money available to me unfortunately.
To date I have made payments on this balance when I have been able to, the debt was NEVER ignored. I logged on Friday, July 13, 2012 to make a payment and was taken aback when I realized that an additional $504 had been added to my balance in fees! I once again contacted the HCTRA and was told that this was out of their hands and that my DEBT had been transferred to the Law Firm, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP whom is playing collection agency for the County.
$900 is an outrageous amount to charge for an original debt under $100. I find it incredibly impossible that I have been trying to resolve this issue for months now however I continue to get the run around. I have documented proof of the attempts I have made at contacting Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP to no avail requesting that they consider dismissing the $900 in fees as the original debt has already been paid in full times two. The Law Firm has yet to contact me again regarding this matter however continues to re-send their collection letter over and over again.
I find it amazing that the County has hired an outside law firm to play as collection agency for them and cannot collect their own debt or correct their own customers accounts when it is an HONEST MISTAKE.
My next step is to bring this matter to the attention of my local state representative, media outlets and seek legal counsel. This is apparently a wide spread issue in Harris County and nothing is being done to fight it.