Toll Glitch Gives Some Airport Drivers Expensive Parking Surprise

DFW Airport officials say bugs that caused overcharges have been fixed

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Friday, Sep 20, 2013  |  Updated 9:44 AM CDT
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Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport's automated parking plazas may have overcharged thousands of drivers' toll tag accounts.

Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport's automated parking plazas may have overcharged thousands of drivers' toll tag accounts.

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Thousands of drivers may have been overcharged at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport because of technical problems with the parking toll plazas that opened earlier this month.

DFW Airport officials said Thursday that the TollTag readers that opened Sept. 4 may not have properly registered 300 to 400 drivers per day. Some were not charged at all, while others were heavily overcharged, airport spokesman David Magana said.

North Dallas resident Bill Woster said he discovered a $108 overcharge when the automated equipment did not respond to his TollTag on his second visit to the airport in the past two weeks. Instead, he was given a ticket to pay by credit card.

"I left half an hour later," he said. "I could not pay this ticket. Instead, the arm opened. It just saw my TollTag and let me out. I checked the next day and had a $108 parking charge."

It turns out that the TollTag reader never recorded his first exit and charged him for about six days of parking.

When he requested a refund from the TollTag operator and then the North Texas Tollway Authority, he was told to call the airport.

Wolter said it was tough to reach anyone at the airport, but he was finally told a check would be in the mail.

"It's a disaster," he said. "It couldn't be worse right now. And they don't even know the magnitude of the problem."

On Thursday, DFW Airport made arrangements to issue refunds directly to charge cards and added staff to handle complaints.

"We're a customer-service business," Magana said. "You shouldn't treat your customers that way, and we certainly never meant to treat them that way. It's a mistake, and we're fixing it."

The airport also said that the bugs that caused the errors in the first place have been solved.

But officials do not know exactly who might have been overcharged.

"I think folks can do what they always do in any transaction -- check their invoices -- and you can do that online very easily," NTTA spokesman Michael Rey said. "If you do find a discrepancy, contact the parking folks at DFW."

"For Mr. Wolter and anybody else that was mistakenly charged, we're very sorry," Magana said.

But he said about 99 percent of DFW customers had no problems with the bigger new plazas and the automated equipment, which designed to improve the flow of traffic in and out of the airport.

"And so, overall, the experience is already better," Magana said.

On Thursday, the NTTA said they were also changing the way they bill drivers for overdue tolls.  Rey said overdue tolls soon will be billed by flat fees -- $10 on top of the amount owed for the first notice and $25 for each subsequent statement.  You can read more on that here.

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