On 7 November 2017, 9 News Queensland ran a story on Transurban’s (go via) exorbitant administration fees. In that story Michael Fraser from Toll Redress suggested writing a letter to Transurban and asking them to confirm that the administration fees charged were the “actual cost” incurred by Transurban. He went on to say that “you’ll probably find that they wiped, almost all of them will be wiped after that“.
The story featured a motorist who was being sued by Transurban for unpaid tolls and administration fees amounting to $16,878.94 plus legal costs totalling $19,021.21. Approximately $15,000 was just for the administration fees. Upon communicating, Transurban gave an update on the outstanding amount. “A balance of $20961.82 is outstanding to go via for unpaid travel and the fees applied to that unpaid travel.”
Toll Redress assisted the motorist with communications to Transurban which resulted in them reducing the total outstanding amount to $4,778.80. The gesture of goodwill amount was approximately $15,000, and in line with the amount charged in administration fees.
Transurban’s new Customer and Communities Advocate Jean Ker Walsh – who Toll Redress have written about before – took issue with the 9 News Queensland story and considered the comments made by Mr Fraser to be “misleading information“.
On 8 November 2017, Ms Walsh made a phone call to Mr Fraser expressing concern about his statements being “misleading“, and among many things, had this to say, “What we pay attention to is the circumstances. I can assure you that the fees that we charge because people do not pay their tolling debts, the fees are legitimate, they are, we are entitled to charge the fees that we do. What we would like to see, is that when you have people come to you, if you could encourage them not to keep driving on the road while you know, they’re in payment difficulty, to ring us, don’t waist time working with you Michael. They will get better results if they contact us and talk to us about their circumstances“.
Ms Walsh followed up with a letter on the same day arguing that Transurban waive fees in relation to a specific set of circumstances. And in relation to Mr Fraser’s public comments she wrote, “This is unequivocally not the case and, in making such public statements, you potentially put at risk some of the customers you claim to represent or others who might rely on your advice.”
Transurban says that Mr Fraser’s advice was not a factor in their decision to reduce debt. They say Transurban considers personal circumstances.
In the case of the motorist who received a $15,000 reduction and featured in the 9 News Queensland story, he detailed the following ‘personal circumstances’ to Transurban: “These concerning allegations have and will aggravate my situation, adding considerable stress to my life in addition to what I already have.”
With his permission, we have included the first letter he sent. Perhaps Transurban did reduce the motorists debt by $15,000 in light of his personal circumstances, and not as a result of questioning the administration fees. Have a read and you be the judge.