The 407 ETR Implements New Technology That Enables Them to Better Bill Users

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This article can be found on page 15 of the Toronto Caribbean.  You can download your free copy here

407 International Inc. reported an 83% increase in profits for the 2nd Quarter this year. The company claims their ridership was up only 1%. They credit the increase in profits to the rise in the cost per trip of approximately 10% and supposed improvements to the technology used to record trips. They also claim that they are now able to better bill users and that the amount of unbilled trips is now only 2.2%.

We asked Kevin Sack, the 407 ETR’s VP of Communications & Government Relations, back in January of this year questions surrounding the billing issues that the 407 ETR is notorious for. That conversation can be found on Youtube under the title Stop the 407 ETR’s Abuse of Power’s Meeting at 407 ETR’s Offices Jan 12th, 2012.

In light of this 2nd Quarter, 2012 report, we asked Kevin Sack for some clarification on this new technology. Among the questions were, when did the 407 ETR implement this new technology? What makes this technology different from the previous? How does it change the way the 407 ETR has been billing people? To date Kevin Sack has not answered these questions.

When we met with Kevin Sack at the 407 ETR’s offices, in January of this year, we asked questions about why the company suppressed invoices for years before sending out a bill that in some cases had thousands of dollars in interest on it and why the company was not billing the correct people or sending the bill out to the correct address when they had access to the Ministry of Transportation’s data base. We started by questioning him about the company’s “change in policy” with how it interfaces with the Ministry of Transportation’s database to access customer information. He confirmed that their policy changed in February of 2010.

Kevin Sack said that when a toll occurs, invoices are sent out for 3 months and if there is no activity on the account, the company will suppress the invoice, send out a section 16 and start calculating interest on the 60th day. 90-100 days later, the company will send out a section 22, by registered mail, telling you that if you don’t pay your bill, you may be placed in Plate Denial. However, for those of us with billing issues, this is not the process we experienced with this company.

What the 407 ETR will not answer directly is what if the company didn’t bill the right “customer”? And what if the company was billing the wrong address? Kevin Sack wants us to ignore the fact that they could have accessed the MTO’s database, but chooses not to, and wants us to inform people to make sure that they call the 407 ETR and give them address changes or vehicle changes. I quickly pointed out to Kevin Sack that calls were made to the company to inform them of changes and for whatever reason the company did not make sure that the information was recorded properly despite having the calls on record in a log.

The Ministry of Transportation says that the 407 ETR only needs to send out an invoice and interest can accrue. Whether or not the company billed the right customer or sent the invoices to the right address or suppressed the invoices for years before they choose to interface with MTO’s data base to get the customer’s correct name and address is irrelevant and that they need to blindly enforce a Plate Denial request by the 407 ETR, regardless if there is proof a toll occurred or not. This is a serious public policy concern.

Kevin Sack defends MTO’s notion by saying that since February of 2010 a customer will receive a bill at least once/year now. When a bad address comes back, the company now checks MTO’s computer every month to try and get the correct address for their customer. This is not a service the 407 ETR pays for; it’s an automatic download. It’s always been available for them to access the information from MTO in this way, but they didn’t choose to do that for many years. When asked why? Kevin Sack was quick to say he wasn’t going to go that far back in history. When I mentioned that people have billing issues dating back to the year 2000 and before, that were caused by this problem, his only response was “fair enough”. Although Kevin Sack would not directly address the company’s responsibility for not billing the right people or sending the invoices out to the right addresses or suppressing peoples invoices, he was very clear on the company’s position regardless of the circumstances, the customer owes the bill and that his CSR’s were authorized to help the customer pay their bills. In the same breath he said that the company has credited people the interest charges and video tolls, but wasn’t willing to do that for us because we missed our window of opportunity. He would not acknowledge that tolls were never proven to have occurred in our cases.

In light of this new technology that the 407 ETR is implementing, we are hopeful that the company will finally make the wrongs it did to it’s customers right. There are only 2 ways of fixing the 407 ETR billing nightmares. They are by suasion and legislation. By you continuing to write the Ontario Ombudsman and your MPP to address the misuse of the Plate Denial process we will accomplish both.


Tammy Flores



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