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Go Via toll fee relief, or Transurban PR stunt?

465 DAYS AGO | TUESDAY, 12 JULY 2016 11:30 PM | Toll Fees | Views(2771)


Transurban, who operate 6 toll roads in QLD under the name Go Via, have just made a Machiavellian attempt to convince the media and motorists that they are going easy on their customers, and will reduce fees associated with unpaid tolls by introducing a suite of changes.

What could have brought on these changes, and will the changes have any positive effect for motorists at all? Well 6 weeks ago we announced to Transurban, Brisbane City Council (BCC), Department of Transport & Main Roads (DTMR) and State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) that we are holding a public discussion on 22 July 2016 in King George Square about the many toll road issues. Also, it wasn’t that long ago that a Transurban executive tried convincing me that things were running relatively smooth and that there were no signs of systemic issues with their operation, despite evidence I offered that would suggest otherwise.

Amazingly, right up to, and during an election, Transurban Queensland claim to have “recently reached an agreement with the Queensland Government to allow the company to have more contact with motorists that have unpaid tolls.”

The new ‘agreement with the Queensland Government’ raises some questions.

  • Transurban already have access to and utilise legislation that enables them to contact their customers and issue at least 9 different fees in QLD, along with access to debt collectors. So why would they need a Government agreement to have more contact?
  • If they did actually require the Queensland Government’s permission to have more contact with their customers, wouldn’ that involve making changes to the Road Franchise Agreement, or changes to the Transport Infrastructure Act 1994?
  • Agreements between public companies and Government need to be written, so where is this agreement? Who was involved, who signed off on it, and why have the Queensland Government not commented on it? Where is MP Mark Bailey in all of this?

A large number of complaints we receive are from people who first became aware of their unpaid toll after Transurban has referred their matter to the State. So offering a Financial Hardship Program to these people is like offering tiger repellant to someone who has just been mauled by a tiger. Michael Fraser The Arbitrator.

A recently published Go Via Media Centre release said “In the past month Queensland motorists have avoided $12 million in fees associated with unpaid tolls” as a result of the suite of changes. If this is to be believed, short of Go Via publishing a comprehensive report in place of a media release, isn’t that a kind of admission where if they had not improved their client communication, that customers would likely have copped $12 million in fees in the last month? Any what for the many thousands of customers that were unfairly charged fees for the many months before?

General Manager of Transurban Queensland Wes Ballantine - who has never personally returned my calls - said “these improvements are great news for motorists and allow us [Transurban] to proactively work with customers to manage their accounts more effectively and clear unpaid tolls before higher penalties are applied.”

It is important to note that the ‘higher penalties’ mentioned by Mr Ballantine, are the penalties issued first by the BCC, or the DTMR, and are then referred to the SPER.

Most interestingly, the Tolling Offence Unit (TOU), a division within the DTMR, told us on multiple occasions that the legislation allows Transurban to refer unpaid toll matters to the TOU who automatically issue a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) of $170 as of 1 July 2016, but here is the kicker...Transurban are not required to. So if TOU’s information can be relied upon, then Transurban have systematically exercised their legal right to refer unpaid toll matters, and therefore have willfully taken action - that they did not have to - that has financially destroyed many customers.

A final note: The TOU confirmed to us on the phone that they are just a ‘processing unit’ and issue PINs to motorists relying only on the word of Transurban, who supply an unpaid Demand Notice as evidence. So by proxy, Transurban are the issuing agent and deciding whether a motorist receives an infringement or not. TOU said they only investigate if there is a dispute, otherwise they just issue a PIN. We asked if they did any checks to see if the motorist ever received any notices in the mail from Transurban, as many don’t, to which the TOU replied, how could we check, we are just a processing unit. - Registered post was my suggestion.

If you know anymore, please email me on office@thearbitrator.co or call me 24/7 on 0458 369 975.

by Michael Fraser from QLD, 4216

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