Georgina man gets 4-cent 407 bill


 

4-cent bill. A four-year-old Hwy. 407 toll fee turned up like a bad penny for Keswick resident Wayne Hortness, who holds up a handful of 407 ETR bills for four cents in incredulous disbelief. Mr. Hortness received the bills the past two months after paying a final payment of $2.45 to 407 ETR in August 2006.

One disgruntled Keswick resident is living his own version of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Dog in a case of toll rage.

While a trip Wayne Hortness took four years ago using the 407 Express Toll Road is a distant memory, reliving paying for it is his recurring reality.

Like many people, Mr. Hortness took the road less traveled about four years ago, paid his bill, returned a transponder via registered mail as instructed by the private corporation and went on with his life.

That was until two months ago.

Mr. Hortness, who is retired and no longer drives, is miffed that he received not one, but two notices from 407 ETR charging him a whopping 4 cents after he paid his final bill of $2.45 in 2006.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “I can’t believe a big corporation like the 407 is wasting its time and money on something so stupid.”

According to its advertising, the 407 ETR, the world’s first all-electronic, barrier-free toll highway stretching 108 km from Burlington to Pickering owned by a private consortium, keeps its customers “ahead of the curve” but for Mr. Hortness, it is actually putting consumers like him behind the eight-ball and on the hook for phantom charges, no matter how small the actual amount.

“The money isn’t the issue,” he adds. “I’m not paying it. It’s ludicrous.”

He also refuses to call the company, mail a cheque for 4 cents he doesn’t owe paying an additional 61 cents for postage or set up a bill payment account at his bank incurring more charges, no matter how nominal.

“If they want it so bad, they can come and get it,” he said.

While Steve Spencer, the 407’s director of consumer and government relations, isn’t quite sure why Mr. Hortness received a bill four years after the fact, especially since general practice is not to bill for amounts under $2, he does insist the situation is easily rectified with a toll free phone call to the corporation’s customer service department.

“The time element doesn’t make sense, but without examining his specific case, I couldn’t say for sure what happened,” he said, “Sometimes there is a discrepancy in the final bill because of payment cross over.”

He adds that the company is contractually obligated to send consumers a final bill, which usually shows a zero balance except in rare instances like that of Mr. Hortness, when certain amounts are carried over.

But that explanation holds little weight for Mr. Hortness, who insists the company is being penny wise and pound foolish in its approach.

“I’d love them to take me to small claims court over this just to see the judge’s reaction over the huge waste of the court’s time and money,” he added.

The 407 charges annual interest of 26.82 per cent on unpaid balances, as well as collection fees and other charges.

“What’s 30 per cent of 4 cents?” Mr. Hortness asked. “That’s some cut for the collection agency, isn’t it?”

Incredulous, frustrated and ticked off, Mr. Hortness can’t believe he is being hounded four years after his last trip on the toll highway for mere pennies that he says he doesn’t even owe.

“Maybe I’ll let Judge Judy handle it,” he added. “She’d cut them down pretty quick.”

For information about the express toll route, its products and services or your account, call the 407 ETR’s toll free number Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1-888-407-0407 or visit www.407etr.com.

Article Source: http://www.yorkregion.com/news/local/article/911345–georgina-man-gets-4-cent-407-bill

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