Open Letter to Kevin Sack 407 ETR’s VP of Communications & Government Relations‏

Dear Mr. Sack,
Thank-you for responding to recent media coverage of billing issues that still exist within your company.  While I can appreciate you not wanting to get into the weeds by answering how someone ends up with a $43,000 bill, as in the case of Andrew Bird, I hope you can also appreciate that ignoring the problem, doesn’t make it go away.  Just because you say that your company has no issues and that Andrew Bird’s story is rare, doesn’t make it so.  What’s rare is the fact that his story hit in the media.  The truth of the matter is that there are thousands of stories just like Andrew Bird’s.  
On January 12th, 2012, I selected a few members from our group “Stop the 407 ETR’s Abuse of Power” to go into your offices to meet with you.  We came with files full of communications we have had with your company in hopes that you would help us resolve our billing issues that your company never resolved.  You told us, the same thing that you said in response to the recent media coverage of billing issues, that 407ETR was not in the business of collecting interest & fees and that your company was in the business of providing a fast, safe, reliable service and collecting tolls.  Can you answer then how a company that is not in the business of collecting interest & fees has so many cases of people with bills that are made up of nothing but interest & fees? OR would that answer lead you to the weeds and so you prefer to tell everyone that your company has no billing issues?
Don’t you find it interesting that the Provincial Ombudsman is investigating Hydro One for billing issues that are very similar to what we’ve been highlighting for the past 3 years? He actually said trying to get answers out of Hydro One is like wrestling with a slippery pig! I have to say I love his analogy and told him I wanted to use the same analogy towards what it is like trying to get answers from 407 ETR on our billing issues.  
The parallels between Hydro One’s billing issues and 407 ETR’s billing issues are striking.  For example, people were not getting bills for years and then your company expected thousands of dollars from people with little explanation on these “catchup” bills that came out of no where for no rhyme or reason. When we tried to communicate with your company we were stymied and stonewalled.  No tolls have ever been proven to have occurred, but yet somehow we owe the company money.  Mr. Sack, the gloves are off.  We are not taking it anymore.  Your company will respect the people in the Province of Ontario.
Kevin Sack, you like to make sure people understand that the 407ETR is a completely open access highway that’s 100% electronic and has no cash register to pay on the spot.  That is the fault in your business model.  Your company’s business model has issues because you can’t preview a customer’s credit history and you don’t have toll booths.  The onus is on your company to make sure that if someone uses the highway they are billed in a timely manner. You say that the company puts forth a lot effort to make sure that customers would always have the opportunity to easily pay their bills every month.  So what happened to us?  Did we fall through the cracks?
Although you claim that your company will work with people to resolve their issues in a reasonable, timely manner, you still have not dealt with us to resolve our issues that have been outstanding for 10 years or more.  Your company did not bill us every month.  As a matter of fact, when I met with you on January 12th, 2012 you told us that there was nothing wrong with the company’s equipment and that your company simply choose not to access MTO’s database to make sure the company was billing the correct person at the correct address.  So contrary to what you just said this past week in response to recent media coverage of billing issues, your company willfully suppressed invoices from customers.  Your company has refused to resolve our issues in a reasonable, timely manner.  Although you say we have a duty to pay our bills, you neglect to acknowledge that your company made mistakes preventing people from paying their bills.
You like to say that using the 407ETR saves you time and money.  407ETR is one of the most expensive highways in the world. NOBODY saves money to travel on that highway.  Because of the mistakes your company has made it has cost people their homes, their livelihood, it has prevented grandmothers from having mobility to visit their grandkids, it has prevented single moms with disabled children from taking their child to doctor appointments and a whole lot of other unnecessary aggravation.  You can’t put a price on the human factor.  This highway does not save people time and money.  Your company has stolen time and money from people.
Tammy Flores
Founder of Stop the 407ETR’s Abuse of Power
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14 Responses to “Open Letter to Kevin Sack 407 ETR’s VP of Communications & Government Relations‏”

  1. scott bell says:

    Well said Tammy. The 407 is in the slimy business model of deliberately not billing clients and then bringing out 1-2-7 years of past bills for interest and penalties. AND THEN pulling our provincial right to drive on roads by withholding license plate renewals.

    This is a corrupt company and the Ontario government needs to look into thier practices.

  2. Leslie M. Bliman-Kuretzky says:

    Excellent letter. I myself, have a HUGE bill thanks to the 407 and there is absolutely no way I will be able to pay it off in my lifetime.

    I hope this wonderful organization smartens up but I am not sure that will happen. Let us hope and pray that it does

    • Tammy Flores says:

      We have given every opportunity to 407ETR to do the right thing. They have arrogantly refused to acknowledge any issues. We have no other choice but to pursue them through the courts now. They will now try to paint the picture that we are picking on them, but they have been a bully for far too long.

  3. Julie Vigneault says:

    Well said Tammy…the company is also screwing themselves, if everyone could afford it they would use it, but all I see is everyone avoiding using the 407 including businesses. It’s a big shame when you screw everyone over and their neighbour. The 407 is going to run into financial trouble themselves look what happened to GM.

  4. Andrew Bird says:

    Well written Tammy!

    I have had literally hundreds of people sign my petition who are experiencing the same thing that I am. And while I would say that it’s a relief to know that I am not alone … it isn’t a relief at all! It’s disgusting!! It’s disgusting to think that we can be held hostage to a private company whose billing practices are severe and punitive.

    • Tammy Flores says:

      Andrew, I have been following your story and I am totally disgusted that this is still happening to people. Despite what 407 ETR claims, that your story is rare, there are thousands of cases like yours whereby out of the blue people are slapped with a bills for hundreds, even thousands of dollars, with little to no explanation as to what the bill is for. As the people investigate, the bill is mostly interest and fees. We can & must regulate this company.

  5. cindy says:

    I have 9000 dollar bill with the 407 and totally admit that it’s my fault. Continuously didn’t pay my bill. This is the only bill that I have in life and it bothers me on a day to day basis. I’m trying to do my best to get this debt paid off but it really frustrates me the interest rates. Really boggles my mind is that if I had paid $30 for a transponder fot a full year my bill would be half the size. Because most of my bill is in and out charges. Try to explain that to the 407 and see if they could at least take off the in an charges and I pay 30 dollar charge for a transponder, they said no. Anything I ask of them is no and rudeness like I’m a nobody. I’m trying to do the right thing and pay my bill but its really hard with the interest.. I wish that they would have sympathy and understanding and try to help me out but not all. I just think it really stupid to charge people in and out charges which is $6 alone 3 dollars in and 3 dollars off when it only cost $30 for a transponder for 1year and no in and out charges. Opinions?

    • Tammy Flores says:

      Cindy, we have had several complaints of people that have transponder and the company turns the transponder off and still expects that $6 fee. It is gouging at it’s finest. We all need to stand up to this bully and tell them we are not going to take it.

      What were your actual tolls? How is a $9,000 bill your fault, did you continue to drive on the highway without paying your bill?

  6. Annie says:

    I also have a huge bill due to bill suppression and moving. No other company I’ve ever dealt with has done what this company is actively doing! Our car has to be in my husband’s name because I’m denied plates. I have called in and said that I would happily pay the original tolls and they tried to negotiate with me! They would let me pay $x in one lump sum within x days, which was still astronomical!! When I said I didn’t have that kind of money, it was “take it or leave it “!
    They also claim I’ve refused to pay and therefore are unable to help me in any way.
    Thanks for all you’re doing to overturn this situation. This needs to stop and if we band together, it can come to an end!!!

    • Tammy Flores says:

      That’s just it Annie, we have to ban together. I have your email address and I will contact you shortly. We are shooting a video and perhaps your story is a story that needs to be heard. Talk to you soon.

  7. JP says:

    I have a similar issue. Over ten years ago i took a trip that cost ~$35, and paid the bill. I then moved, and moved again. Years later I received a bill for ~$450. I asked for the proof, and received an envelope full of bills for trips I never made. I did not pay for trips I never made, and asked ombudsman and BBB for help, with no response. The bill is now ~$2000. I cannot get plates, obviously. Why is this company untouchable?? Even Rogers and Bell send their apologies when I rat them out to the BBB. This company – the BBB doesn’t even respond to me.

    I honestly would pay the original fees, even though they aren’t legit, just to get this company off of my back. But I will not pay all of the interest, and they won’t back down. What can be done.

    • Tammy Flores says:

      JP, we are trying to do something. The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear 407 ETR’s argument as to why the BIA doesn’t apply to them. They filed their appeal on June 9th, 2014 with this constitutional question: Is section 22 (4) of the Highway Traffic Act, constitutionally inoperative under the doctrine of federal paramountcy to the extent that an individual discharged from Bankruptcy under the BIA remains incapable of obtaining vehicle plates under the provincial legislation? My knee jerk reaction is: If the Province felt this was an issue, shouldn’t they be the ones asking the question, NOT 407 ETR? 407 ETR was supposed to follow all the other laws of Canada and Ontario while operating their business. They have failed to do so. This “loophole” doesn’t absolved them from responsibility for their actions. We can’t move forward with the Class Action until this court case is over. We expect the judges to hear arguments 9-12 months from now and make a decision within 6 months from that time. So again, thousands of us wait while this company continues to exploit people.

  8. AC says:

    Going back to when this began in March…I called ETR collections to discuss payment & options to claim hardship, although I advised them of financial difficulties they still neglected to tell me they shut off my transponder!!!. I paid $1200 in March so I could renew my plates, leaving a balance of $800 as of March 2014…I use the 407 on a regular basis and I’ve received a bill for $2,300 as of Nov 2014. they have added at least $700 ($100/month) in video toll charges they refuse to take off my bill. This is now in collections and I don’t know what to do. Any suggestions?

  9. Denise Porter says:

    Why is the Provincial Government NOT helping us?

    I have been trying for 6 years now to amicably resolve the outstanding and ridiculous interest charges of a 900.00 bill that with interest now amounts to 6,400.00 with no avail. Have tried customer service multiple times, escalated to special circumstances, letter to Kevin Sack who chose not to respond for 2 months until I reached out for help to resolve only to be sent back to customer service.Just have written to the ombudsman to see if this my last option will resolve it to mutual satisfaction otherwise I am walking away.

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