TxTag troubles plaguing TxDOT

FILE - TxTag (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - TxTag (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — You take the toll road to save time and you get a TxTag to save time paying your bill, but for many of you, dealing with TxTag has been anything but saving time.

For two months, you’ve been sending us tips, complaining about TxDOT’s new tollway billing system. The agency contracted with Xerox to run TxTag payments and when the new system launched this summer, the trouble began immediately.

For weeks, KXAN has repeatedly asked TxDOT to pinpoint the problem and a specific time frame for its fix.

So far, the agency’s leaders have refused to speak with us, only sending a statement apologizing for the trouble telling KXAN, it’s been “more challenging than they anticipated.”

But, Dennis Harkrider says trying to contact TxTag Customer Service over the last two months have been anything but easy.

“I’ve expended gas driving down there, I’ve wasted a lot of time on my phone..it’s a little crazy,” he said. “I would call four, five, six times a day.”

When he called, he would continually get a message saying,”We were unable to verify the date you entered…please try again.”

Harkrider also couldn’t sign into his account online. And when we went to the TxTag office ourselves we saw what Dennis has also faced in person, long lines.

“The lines were coming out the door and so I just had to leave that day,” Harkrider said, “I didn’t have the time to get in line and wait…It was a zoo inside. Most of the people inside were already frustrated.”

In early July, the Texas Department of Transportation launched a new website, run by Xerox, promised TxTag customers an improved way to “access their account information and pay a bill without waiting in long lines or on hold.”

Since then, we’ve learned at one point more than 1,200 people couldn’t access their accounts. We had the same problem when we tried.

Dozens of viewers have emailed us saying the website is “effectively worthless if you are able to log in at all,” and that “the TxTag phone lines are not answered.”

TxDOT declined multiple requests for an on-camera interview, instead sending a statement from its executive director saying, “The people of the State of Texas, and specifically our toll users, deserve better than what we have laid out for them during this transition. I can assure you that the problems are being addressed and significant improvements are happening.”

In addition to TxDOT leaders, we reached out to every member of the Texas Transportation Commission for an interview. Only one spoke with us off-camera. Victor Vandegriff says he will “aggressively” search for answers and solutions.

Less waiting on hold and in person

While TxDOT hasn’t given us a specific answer about what caused the problems with the new system or when they will be completely resolved, a spokesperson claims there have been many improvements, including a better web experience, fewer people waiting in line at the customer service center and shorter hold times on the phone.

TxDOT says callers now wait an average of eight and a half minutes to speak with a representative. When we tried today – it was actually less than a minute.

We took a closer look, and discovered the problems with the new system started after TxDOT contracted with Xerox to manage the system. We asked, but the company has yet to give us a specific timeframe or a reason for the TxTag problems.

Xerox tells us it took over from a previous vendor, and “there have been some response time issues that (they) are working diligently to address.”

Xerox says it is the largest provider of transportation technology services worldwide and, until a few months ago, it was also the state’s longtime Medicaid claims processor.

We’ve learned Texas recently dropped the company and filed a lawsuit to recover hundreds of millions of dollars paid for dental work the state says wasn’t necessary.

Xerox has said it’s disappointed with the state’s decision and plans to “defend itself vigorously.”

If you feel your issues haven’t been addressed you can file a complaint with TxDOT online, here.

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