Pennsylvania E-ZPass users: Now that the signal lights are gone on the PA Turnpike and there’s no indication that your transponders are working correctly, be sure to monitor your account for “V-Tolls.” A V-Toll means the transponder was not read and an image of the vehicle license plate was taken upon exiting (but not on entry). Lansdale Warehouse learned the hard way in 2018 to monitor our account on a daily rather than monthly basis and had to dispute over 200 V-Tolls to the tune of $16,000+ in overcharges. As the statements only showed where the truck exited, we had to go back through GPS logs to determine where the vehicle entered the toll road which required hours of research.
For example, a Class 7 5-axle truck’s normal toll between Bensalem and Fort Washington is $10.35. Our V-Toll charge for the trip (shown above) was $179.44, a difference of $169.09. In the image, “TpkCharge” is what we were charged, “Toll” is what the actual toll amount should be for the trip. 40% of the 200+ overcharges were over $100 more than the actual toll.
A PA Turnpike spokesperson is on record as stating: “Customers will have to trust the technology that’s in their transponder. Just continue moving through the lane, assuming that if your transponder has been working, there’s really no reason for you to suspect that it won’t continue to work.”1
We suggest you do not simply trust that the transponder is working and monitor your account regularly, especially if you’re managing a fleet making daily trips using E-ZPass like us. While the PA Turnpike is fair in fixing the overcharges and adjusted our charges on a trip by trip basis, catch transponder failures early and save yourself from a research and reporting nightmare. Waiting for a monthly statement rather than checking your account regularly could allow these charges to build up, as happened in our case. There is no automated alert/warning email when you generate a V-Toll so you’ll have to do a manual check on their site of your recent transactions.
We’re looking at services like BestPass that provide “Mis-read Identification” where they monitor for V-Tolls and other misreads, suggest what they believe is the correct toll, and submit credit requests to the appropriate tolling authorities. BestPass claims that 3% of all tolls are misreads that lead to 60% higher bills (if they aren’t noticed and disputed).
Our hope for the future is that the current transponder technology is replaced by photo tolls where the license plate is captured during entry and exit. This technology is in use in other states and countries (and even at certain toll plazas on the PA Turnpike). We’d even be happy if we just got an automated alert any time a V-Toll is generated so we’d know to immediately check our account. Whatever happens in the future, we’ll be sure to keep a close eye on our account.