By Alexandria Hoff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — E-Z Pass is not going easy on the drivers who received bills while toll booths were closed this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Eyewitness News has learned that dozens of people received statements claiming that they owe hundreds of dollars for tolls and tacked-on late fees.

From late March to mid-May, tolls on New Jersey and Pennsylvania bridges, the New Jersey Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike went cashless. Travelers without E-Z Pass were advised to just expect a bill in the mail, but for some, what they received was far from what they expected.

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Lindsay Weiner doesn’t have E-Z Pass but has never minded handing over a crisp Abe Lincoln when crossing the Ben Franklin.

“When they told us they were canceling cash options, we were like, ‘great, we will just get a bill, no problem,'” Weiner said.

So between late March to mid-May, when COVID-19 restrictions sent toll collectors home, Weiner crossed the bridge 25 times, racking up a bill that at $5 a trip should have been $125.

“They were asking us to pay $750,” Weiner said.

That $750 bill includes $5 for each of the 25 tolls plus a $25 administration fee for each of the 25 trips.

“I’m hoping it’s just a glitch, but I just know that a lot of other people are going through the same thing,” Weiner said.

Eyewitness News heard from almost a dozen others who have received New Jersey E-Z Pass bills that were either already past due upon receipt or were tacked with an additional administrative fee. One included a $50 administrative fee added to a 40 cent toll bill.

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“I got some legal notices saying that if I don’t pay them in 10 days, there will be legal action,” Weiner said.

For Weiner, she says she received almost all of her bills within days of them reaching delinquency and simply could not get in touch with anyone from E-Z Pass New Jersey.

“No one is available right now,” Weiner said.

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Eyewitness News tried the customer service number provided repeatedly as well at different times on different days and never reached a live operator.

The media contact with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the lead agency handling E-Z Pass in the state, did not return emails or calls either.

“It’s kind of ridiculous,” Weiner said.

For now, the Delaware River Port Authority, which acknowledged a billing backlog during the COVID-19 shutdown, has invited anyone who received a bill on their letterhead to contact the DHPA with questions.

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According to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, their customer service team has been hit with an influx of callers who cannot get in touch with the New Jersey Turnpike regarding their toll-by-mail.

Alexandria Hoff