I-Team: Some RI E-ZPass transponders not activated

Priscilla Smyth Thayer of Portsmouth wanted to make sure her family was prepared for the new toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge.

She ordered a transponder during a special promotion over the summer, encouraging Rhode Island drivers to sign up for E-ZPass.

"They said wait about 48 hours and it should be turned on," Smyth Thayer said. "And it didn't get turned on."

She's not the only one who told the NBC 10 I-Team about E-ZPass problems.

"They called me this morning telling me mine was not activated. I got it in July and thought I used it in August. Guess not," John said in a post on NBC 10's Facebook page.

"I bought it during the promotion where I had to pay a $25 deposit, and they were supposed to give me an extra $10 credit I received my first statement and there are no extra credits," Sara said.

Smyth Thayer said that credit for Rhode Island drivers was missing from her bill as well.

"Went back and looked at the account and saw that they charged me the regular price instead of the discounted price," Smith-Thayer said.

The I-Team called the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority to find out what caused the problems.

A representative said the authority has processed close to 45,000 new E-ZPass transponders since May 1. About 100 transponders weren't activated correctly.

The Sakonnet River Bridge uses open road tolling, so drivers don't have to stop. They might not know there's a problem until they get a notice or a ticket in the mail.

Some drivers told NBC 10 they didn't realize the transponders weren't working and accidentally drove through tolls on both the Sakonnet and Pell bridges without paying.

The authority told the I-Team that staff apologized to customers who were impacted and reversed any incorrect tolls and fines.

Smyth Thayer checked her balance online before trying to use her E-ZPass. She found the glitch herself and drove to the authority's office in Jamestown to get it fixed.

"Forty-five minutes away to deal with something that could have been taken care of when I got the transponder," she said.

E-ZPass holders can log into their accounts online anytime to double-check.