The Fixer: No way to hang up on 407 ETR messages


The 407's billing practices continue to confound people who never even drive the toll road.

It’s hard to escape the clutches of the 407 toll road over an unpaid balance, even for people who don’t owe it a penny.

We’ve often reported on the 407’s practice of not sending invoices to drivers for years, then surprising them with a bill demanding an outrageous amount of interest, calculated at 26 per cent, compounded annually.

It is appalling that a business can withhold a bill and demand interest for the entire period. But when you can deny drivers a licence plate renewal for not paying, a unique power enjoyed by the 407, anything goes.

Eric Allen emailed us about a different twist to 407 collections, saying he’s gotten repeated phone messages from the toll road, trying to collect from a woman with a similar name.

“They are automated and want someone named Eleanor Aylen to contact then right away to resolve an urgent billing problem,” said Allen. “I am not Eleanor. I do not know Eleanor.”

Allen said he thinks the 407 is using a scattershot approach by calling people listed in the phone book as E. Allen, in its attempts to find Eleanor.

“I find the whole thing rather peculiar, as I have never actually driven on the 407. They are clearly not looking for me, but it just goes to show the lengths and tactics this company will go to.”

Allen said the pronunciation of the name in the messages is different than his name, which is why he thinks it might be spelled Aylen.

His phone showed as many as three calls a day from the 407 last week, said Allen, but none this week.

We found 22 listings for E. Allen in a Toronto phone book; if the 407 called even half, it amounts to a lot of aggravation for people who owe it nothing.

STATUS: Kevin Sack, the 407’s vice-president of communications, said Allen was getting “early cure” calls, which are sent as a reminder to drivers whose bill is 15 days overdue. The 407 only calls numbers it has on its files and does not track down drivers by calling numbers listed to similar names, said Sack. Allen’s phone numbers have now been removed from the 407’s files, he added.

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