Teen hit with e-toll charges

Taking its toll: Nicola Kane, of Goonellabah, is smarting after being billed a total of $86.56 by Queensland Motorways for four road tolls totalling $6.56 she clocked up passing through electronic toll stations on the Logan Motorway.
Taking its toll: Nicola Kane, of Goonellabah, is smarting after being billed a total of $86.56 by Queensland Motorways for four road tolls totalling $6.56 she clocked up passing through electronic toll stations on the Logan Motorway. Jay Cronan

SEVENTEEN-year-old Nicola Kane got the shock of her life when she received four bills totalling $86.56 following her first trip to Brisbane using the Logan Motorway.

“It was so confusing. The sign told us what the fee was and I had the right change and kept looking for the booth to pay, but it never came up and I didn’t see any sign about e-tags,” the Goonellabah resident said.

Ms Kane’s route had two toll payment points which incurred four tolls worth $6.56 for the return trip.

The first-year university student said she was more than happy to pay the tolls, but when each notice arrived with a $20 administration fee she was staggered.

“I’m so annoyed about it,” she said. “Surely they could send the four notices with one admin fee?”

While many Northern Rivers residents have accepted the high fees, lawyers are questioning them and comparing the situation to excessive bank fees.

“The principle here is they should only charge what it costs them to administer the processing of the unpaid toll,” Lismore solicitor and SCU law lecturer, Ralph James, said.

“In this case it could be seen as a penalty, when clearly it is not advertised as a penalty.”

Ben Slade, the managing principle of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers NSW, who is running the class action over exorbitant bank fees, believes the high toll charges could be worth further investigation.

“The principle that parties cannot impose exorbitant penalties is well known in law, and the bank class action has generated interest in a whole range of fees,” he said.

“Though this exorbitant fee might be imposed in agreement with the State,” he added, saying that would require a political solution.

Queensland Motorways could not provide a breakdown of the administration fees yesterday.

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