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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 8, 2009 @ 4:46 pm

    eFlow is e-fail

    Ciara O'Brien

    I think it’s fairly well established that I am a fan of technology. It makes my life infinitely easier. But when it goes wrong, it leaves me wanting to kick holes in the offending item.

    The latest culprit is the fairly innocuous eFlow tag that is currently stuck to my windscreen. In a way, I sort of deserve it.

    You see, when all those people were complaining about their tag not working properly when barrier free tolling was introduced on the M50, I was slightly smug that mine was in perfect working order. It did what it was supposed to. I didn’t get a single demanding letter from eFlow telling me I had failed to pay tolls and could I please deposit the pricely sum of 12 quid in their account forthwith. It even worked on the M1. Sorted.

    But then I decided that it was time to change the car. (Yes, yes, I know, we’re in a recession, blah blah. I’ve heard it all before). And there’s where the problems started.

    I rang to change the tag over. No problem, they said, we’ll send you out a new one. I gave them the registration number so they could update my account, in the foolish belief that this would mean my account would get charged even if the tag wasn’t working properly.

    Oh, how wrong was I. The first letter came a few days after changing over my account, looking for €12. This was followed by letters three, four and five – I’d done multiple trips back and forth to the airport that day. All the letter were posted separately, incidentally. The fines were steep, the shock was, well, shocking.

    I dutifully rang and informed them of the mistake. Oh don’t worry, the polite girl assured me, we’ve transferred all the charges over and you’ll be billed as normal. Great, sorted.

    Wrong again.

    More letters arrived for trips taken a few days later. I rang again. Explained again. Was assured it would be fixed again. No problem.

    Then another batch of toll charges. Topped off with the M1 tag lane telling me my tag was invalid. Luckily it was early in the morning, because having to cross three lanes to get to the open toll booth in rush hour traffic would have given me a nervous breakdown.

    Another phone call. The polite man checked my tag was activated. It was. He double checked. All above board. Ignore the last letter, he said, it was sent before the problem on my account had been fixed.

    Except it wasn’t. Three weeks later, another M50 journey, another eflow letter, another “invalid” M1 trip.

    Another phone call. Polite man #2 tells me the tag is faulty (technology fail number one). and agrees the system should read my plate and identify it as a tag account (fail number two) and not try to charge me obscenely expensive penalties for failing to pay a toll it should have taken from my account.

    A new tag is apparently on its way to me. It’s only taken two months. Here’s hoping it works better than the last.

    I can’t be the only one this is continuing to happen to. Why is it so hard for a supposedly system, to work?

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      I get their stupid monthly e-statements and it is completely impossible to find my password, or obtain a new one.

      Amazingly frustrating organisation.

    • Jonathan says:

      This whole tag tolling business is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Talk about an Irish solution to an Irish problem. All this administrative nightmare – tag registration, video registration, choosing your provider, switching providers, mis-read tags, threatening letters and god knows what else, just to collect two euros. It really does beggar belief.
      If they just added a couple of cents in tax to every liter of petrol (which nobody would notice) they’d collect far more money with zero hassle.

    • Donal says:

      Having spent 5 months previously recovering money from eFlow, I can only suggest that you loop the National Consumer Agency (NCA) in with regard any issues you have. When I spoke to them in late January they were aware of a few complaints but were monitoring the situation. Fast forward to March and the NCA were investigating eFlow due to the sheer number of complaints.

      While you may not get an immediate resolution via the NCA, people power does work with them and if they get enough volume, they will investigate issues. Whatever you do, keep all records (phone, fax, email, letters).

      I now avoid the toll portion of the M50, on the basis that it takes less time (trip time is slightly more; time spent dealing with eFlow is zero).

    • petee says:

      its time to take our roads back

      ps. my hard drive crashed on my work PC so i lost all my favourites in IE. i’ve just spent the last 10 minutes on megabites blog wondering why you are blogging about food :)

    • Derek says:

      I’m sorry for being a country lad who doesn’t go to Dublin often, only very rarely a trip to the airport. I also don’t really bother with the papers, so I wasn’t aware of the toll system. This morning I recieved two letters from their solicitors demanding €152 apiece. From looking around I found that the fees have been broken down for me.

      €3 Toll
      €3 Standerd Toll Request
      €41.50 Unpaid Toll Notice
      €104.50 Toll Violation Notice

      I made a trip to the airport in February and this is the first I’ve heard from the company, not from them, but their solicitor. I got no letters requesting any money for the toll, so I didn’t have a chance.

      I’ll be ringing the NCA about this.

      Thanks for the NCA tip, I’m fuming, I rang the solicitor in question and got the not our problem story back.

    • Michael Smith says:

      You wonder how many ministers got backhanders when this whole eFlow thing was setup? The entire operation is a joke and proves again why this country has gone backwards in the last 3 years!

    • dean robinson says:

      forgot to pay 3.00 toll had to pay the additional charge 6.00 forgot I had paid when the violation charge of 47.50 came in i PAID IN ERROR E-FLOW REFUSE TO GIVE ME MY 47.50 BECAUSE i DID NOT BRING IN MY NOTIFICATION TO THE SHOP TO LET THEM SEE WHAT VIOLATION REF i WAS PAYING ITS A BIG RIP OFF. i HAVE CONTACTED E-FLOW EVERY DAY SINCE THE AGENTS ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO DEAL WITH i NOW AVOID THE TOLL AT ALL COSTS THIS IS ONLY ONE OF MY PROBLEMS i HAD SINCE SEPT LAST YEAR ITS ONE PROBLEM AFTER ANOTHER i DREAD WHEN i SEE THE E-FLOW LETTERS COMING IN AND IT DOES NOT SEEM TO MATTER IF YOU HAVE RECEIPTS OR NOT.

    • Laura says:

      At the start of the month I picked somebody up from the airport and paid €6 in a local garage for the two trips on my way home that evening. Given I’ve had numerous problems with this system, I called them the following day to assure they had received the payment and they did indeed confirm payment had gone through. Fast forward a week later and I receive two fines for not paying, my already paid toll. That day I call and talk to an agent who abruptly tells me he will look into it and call me back. No call that day. I call back that evening and talk to another agent who then tells me not to worry he can see the payment and it’s probably an error and I will receive an update soon. I have heard nothing back until today, in which I received two penalties for €47.50, amounting to nearly €100 in charges for the very same trip. This system is a total scam, structured to rip people off. I too wonder how many backhanders were received for this farce of a mismanaged, ill-devised ‘system’. Don’t trust any representative who tell you that your payment is cleared. There appears to be absolutely no communication between any of the departments, especially the customer service and finance departments and this makes for a complete shambles of a operation. The rip-off republic is stronger than ever.

    • Ciara says:

      I am holding in my hand yet ANOTHER letter.

    • Michael says:

      Incredibly poorly run sytems and poor customer service.

      I received 10 letters in a single day despite the fact that I have a valid toll tag.

      How much money is this incompetence costing?

    • Clare says:

      I’m livid – just received TWO solicitor’s letters re : 1 trip to Dublin in March when the charge was paid in the coins lane. Now they’re looking for €304. Over my dead body !

    • Kevin says:

      We are having major grief with e-flow at the moment. My wife made a journey on May 26th and was late paying the toll. We paid the fee for being late, rang them and were told that everything was in order.

      Last week we received a letter saying that we hadn’t paid what was due. My wife phoned them and they said that they had taken what we paid them off and outstanding late payment fee that was due for a date in November.

      We duly checked and we could confirm from our receipt (thankfully we keep them all) for that November date that it had been paid on time and there was nothing owed.

      They assured us that it was in their system and that we owed them a late payment for then. Why then didn’t they send out a letter about this last November. They couldn’t answer that one.

      Yesterday, we received a letter stating that we now owe them again for the May 26th journey. They are now threatening legal action. They can threat away – we are not paying something that we’ve already paid.

      I made a journey across the M50 last Saturday and paid the toll within the hour. I’m awaiting their letter.

    • Jason Magee says:

      I am sick of getting letters from eflow when my vehicle has not even been on the road, i called up serveral times were i was getting threw to the Newry office who were very understanding although head office still have not got back to me on this.

      Great Customer service….shit system

    • eflowsucks says:

      We’ve had a second similar experience to one of the above posters.

      The system has to change.

      I know the government is broke and they need to extortionate blood from stones, but this is worse than the worse loan sharks.

      3 euro (one day!) late fee is bad enough (100% per day!, that’s 36500% per annum), but the 47.50, well, why don’t they take your house as well, oh wait, they are trying their best at that too.

      Has anyone been to Mountjoy for not paying eflow? That would be interesting. I dare the government and the judiciary to do it. Go on, just do it and see what the papers make of that!

      The obvious solution to this system (assuming the defrauding is not intentional, but dumb government bureaucracy) is to have have ESB and the other electricity provider take over the administration. They have experience with billing customers. They have a system already in place. 99.99999% of the Irish population receives an electric bill. Anyone who doesn’t, gets through the toll free, as it’s not worth chasing up a handful of people.
      The “eflow” charge is added on to the electricity bill at the end of the month (2 months whatever), if you have traveled on the toll road of course.

      ESB and Bord G get the money and give it over to the government minus theor admin charges plus profit (say 10%). If the gov. didn’t won’t to forgo the 10%, they can add it to the toll charges, as 3.30 Euro will gladly be paid be motorists for a FLAWLESS system.

      This system can then be repeated with other tolls.

      SIMPLE!

    • Marion says:

      I moved into my apartment before Christmas and returned a stack of envelopes to EFlow belonging to a previous occupier who was obviously renting. Each envelope was clearly marked “No longer at this address”. Despite this they kept coming and I keep returning “No longer at this address” This week I returned five and yesterday there were six envelopes all posted together!

    • Fab says:

      Hi Derek,

      I have exactly the same problem, I used to live in Limerick for the past 4 years and was not aware of the toll system at all. Unfortunately, right after I used the M50 I moved to Kildare just a few days later. Of course, eflow send all the lovely letters to my old address, since it also takes ages to have your car registration certificate updated in Shannon!!. However, the lawyers then managed to send the 2 toll violations of each € 152 to my current address!!!! I already got in contact with FLAC they advised me to send them a letter and explain, but I got a response back that indicated that they havent read my letter at all, and still wanted me to pay the full amount. Note, I actually offered them to pay 2 x 74.50 just to settle the matter. They wouldnt have any of it…..they also cover themselves by saying that they are not obliged to send out reminders…what a lot of BS!!!! I am also gonna call NCA!!!

    • v.annoyed says:

      eflow’s system is a joke. we had trips tru toll bridge, which is VERY poorly signposted, and recieved the €6 letters for the trips, amounting to €18 in total. we then recieved three more letters requesting €47.50 a piece. when i called to tell them i had paid the previos charges i was told i had to bring the actual letters with me, which i wasn’t aware of!! she told me i had the €18 as credits in my account but the system wouldnt allow her to transfer it over to cancel the debt. how ridiculous!! i really dont see why i shoud now have to pay another 150, which i havn’t got to giv them anyway. i guess they will just hav 2 bring me 2 court as u cant get blood from a stone!! who the hell allowed them 2 bring in these TOTALLT EXCESSIVE fines anyway?? its a bloody disgrace.

    • Mary Black says:

      I just git a scoictors etter with 600. euro fine – They can stick it I registered with them

    • Steve Riddett says:

      We just got an eflow letter through. We weren’t familiar with the system and didn’t realise how draconian the late charges would be. My girlfriend tried to pay by phone on the day, but the lines were busy.

      We’ve now been charged EUR 192 for driving up a road!

      I will not go this route any longer. I’m not giving those bastards 1 more euro.

      I’m going to bring this to the attention my local councillor.

    • Annoyed Man says:

      Why when I go online can I not just enter my number plate and get a statement of any amounts I owe!!

      I have just received a lovely €47.50 fine. I went online – entered my number plate & the notification number as requested. The fines available for me to pay were €6 and €6. They of course put a lovely notice at the bottom saying this information up to date.

      Could someone explain how I can get a fine for €47.50 but when I go to pay it online it is not available for me to pay??? I’m an accountant and this just does not make sense! I’d like to see a full investigation by the NCA. I’ve tries registering but it tells me my card is not valid….well it seemed valid enough when I pain another €47.50 fine yesterday with it. I get the feeling they don’t want me to register so they can fine me the next time also.

    • Legal Eagle says:

      This is an absolute sham of an organisation and a blight on the consumer. The fact that so many customers are getting SHAFTED for fines, penalties & summonses for something that is not managed correctly is an absolute farce. The M50 is there for all to use. There is no mention of what the toll is, what the penalties are anywhere on the toll road, allied to that its not exactly safe to have such information posted on a gantry. You cannot assume that every person who passes through the toll knows about it and will pay up to €150 for 1 journey. There is a raft of legal nuances here that can be challenged in court and I am sure they probably will if someone has the balls to take them on.

      When is the national DONT PAY THE M50 TOLL day? I am convinced that one days non-paying traffic would bring their entire system down!

    • Not stating says:

      I’ve only had good experiences with eflow, traffic was mental before the barrier free toll.. Even when I receive letters incorrectly the agents help me out and are always polite

    • Michelle says:

      Ye complain so much, i dont understand just pay it before 8pm but the following day or register and you are covered if you receive letters. Also everyone complained so much when the backlog was there with the barrier…

    • Michelle says:

      Do any of ye realise that eflow have moved, they were in newry and the agents there f**ked eveything up.. the new office is tryin to undo their mistakes but wa**kers continuously call the office giving out! my friend works there.

    • Totally agree with Michelle..
      There’s always s**t @ the begining but thinks have moved..
      Usually IDIOTS are fast to complain but fail to see simple things..
      Similar case to the Lisbon, haha !
      ;)
      “When the power of love will overcome the love of power, world will know peace”

    • Peter Clarke says:

      Michelle most of us are complaining about getting fines when our cars have not been on that road at all…. yesterday I recieved two solicitors letters demanding €300. I rang eflow, they said its out of there hands and the solicitors told me they heard it all before and they will bring me to court if I dont pay it….what the hell…how can some one send you a fine and tell you to pay it when my car was in County Galway on those dates !!!!!! What do I do now ??? Its crazy

    • e flower says:

      i also know people working for e flow in cork call centre and have also dealt with them over the phone. i have found them delightful to speak to on each and every call. i agree with Michelle just pay before 8pm, always keep your receipt if you use payzone, always take transaction number if paying on line or over the phone its common sense to check your receipt after any transaction. v easy to pass the blame but how about you take responsibility when using the toll. no one agrees that we should have to pay for tolls after all we pay enough in car tax but unfortunatley its just one of those things so until such time we don’t have to pay just get on with it

    • David C says:

      I crossed the M50 twice and forgot to pay. I moved house and had two notices for €3 sent to the old address. The fines mounted and I was unaware of it. When I got my mail I called and explained the problem. They told me it was my fault cos I didn’t register my new address with the NRA. It was a genuine mistake as I thought it was to be done when I next taxed the vehicle. I explained this but they couldn’t give a crap. I explained that I cannot afford the fine as I am out of work and not in receipt of socail welfare, again they couldn’t give a crap. So the outcome is that I have no option but to let them take me to court over €6 worth of road use. I’ll let you all know how I get on. Someone here asked if anyone had ever been to Mountjoy over nonpayment of eFlow – maybe that’ll be me! If it is I’ll make sure the whole country hears of it!

    • brian noonan says:

      hi all ,,,
      i know exactly how you are feeling.
      i sold my car in november th 2nd
      and now i am starting to recieve bills and solicitors letters from poxy e-flow
      i called them again to-day and they said that i did 24 journeys in october back and foward i live on the southside and very rarley go out through the e-flow and wen i do i prepay, the staff are a joke and the solicitors are to,
      I am going to do somthing about this.
      My bill is now at €3,000 plus for tolls that i paid but unfourtunatly i do not have many reciepts now after a house fire,
      i believe we can all do somthing and i believe we should start a campaign. get in touch,,

      cheers.

      brian_noonan101@hotmail.com

    • Mufty says:

      Why online payments do not allow for additional specification e.g. Transaction Payment Number linked to monthly Balance Identification Number before transaction is processed? That would be way more difficult for you to manipulate monthly balances of your customers. Why such small but important identification is not supported by your system? How do you want to prove what customers are paying for and how customers are supposed to prove what they have paid for? How it is possible that phone operator is not able to trace payments on your system even when he/she was provided with unique transaction number? Are those people completely incompetent or your system is badly designed and not able to trace transactions in seconds? Why the complete History of monthly balances are not available for customers? Do you believe that people would keep downloading them just to have them available when required? It should be mandatory for you to keep all those balances in one place for every single customer and customers should have full access to complete balance history. I only hope that all customers credit cards and laser cards are fully encrypted on your system. And the list is just getting longer. I will compile all information and provide it to NCA with appropriate complaints. I believe you wouldn’t pass a simple security audit and talking about customer compliance audit that’s something you can only be dreaming about. I would also suggest that you add additional option to the drop down list ‘Nature’ on the “Please Submit your Query” form. The additional option should be called “Complaints”.

    • christy says:

      I have enjoyed all the the crappy service from eflow outlined by by the preceeding complainents plus a few extra. Apart from the mess which they jokingly refer to as a service I
      have also experienced the indifferent attidude
      practioner. It,s obviously under studying for The
      Taming of the Shrew. Question. Why am I sending payements to another country to cross
      a bridge in Ireland. Answer that that Brian.

    • Ciaran says:

      got a bill to say i was on m50 southbound,was in sligo at the time,call centre staff most unhelpful especially the so called supervisor.have they ever heard of costumer care?because of their indifferent attitude i dont know what to do,any advice would be appreciated.

    • I live in Kilkenny, and use the toll bridge only occasionally. I was often forgetting to pay the toll and then just excepting paying a little extra when the STR came through. In the interest of avoiding paying the extra, I decided to go ahead and register my vehicle. Not as straight forward as I would have liked, but it is done.

      My problem is this. I drove my fathers U.K. registered car through the toll bridge on 5 occasions during October2010. In January 2011 he gets a Unpaid Toll Notice of £211.38 sterling with a threat of bigger fines and possible imprisonment if it is not paid. This is the first correspondence he has had from eFlow. There had been no STR or anything else, if there had have been it would have been dealt with promptly as always.
      Surely this is wrong. Any advice welcome. P.S. I did actually remember and attempt to pay the toll while in Belfast on 1 occasion, but couldn’t make contact, even with alternative dialing codes, and a hotel receptionist looking the number up on the internet and using the reception land line to dial.