Orange County toll roads switched to electronic billing and it's causing big headaches for commuters.
The Transportation Corridor Agencies implemented the new cash-free payment method in June, in an effort to increase efficiency.
But the rollout has created ongoing confusion among drivers who don't realize until it's too late that they owe a toll.
During the first several months of the program, the TCA issued as many as 19,000 violations a day — more than twice the previous average.
The resulting complaints overwhelmed customer service operators, creating phone delays that upped drivers' frustrations even more.
The I-Team has learned the billing system is creating problems for some commuters, too.
"I signed up for the FasTrak account," Mary Wasman said.
Wasman commutes daily from Sun City to Irvine, a 90-minute drive that would double if she were unable to use the toll roads.
But for the past few months, Wasman has had frustrating issues with her billing.
"Starting in August, they started contacting me telling me that my account was in arrears and they had canceled it," she said, showing evidence that her account had been paid in full. "I showed them the canceled checks and they came back to me by email and said that they were opening a new account for me. So everything was fine for about a month and a half, and it started happening all over again."
Despite showing the TCA another batch of canceled checks that proved she'd paid her bills on time, she continued to get notices of toll evasion.
She contacted the agency and demanded an itemized accounting of her supposed fines.
"When I got the paperwork it was $3,000."
On the OC Toll Roads' Facebook page, other drivers post similar stories. They detail hours of waiting on hold to reach customer service operators to sort out their accounts.
Toll Roads spokeswoman Lisa Telles admitted problems accommodating its 800,000 customers in a timely fashion.
The agency has added 16 new customer service representatives to the staff to help handle the onslaught.
After the I-Team got involved, the Toll Roads offered to settle Wasman's $3,000 bill for $429. But just a few weeks later, she's started receiving notices of violation again.
"Clearly there is something very wrong with their system," Wasman said. "It's just extremely stressful."