Kirkland man shocked at $14,000 bill for crossing SR 520 toll bridge, plans to fight it
SEATTLE — Rik Deskin showed up to court on Thursday to fight a hefty toll bill.
In 2012, Deskin says he and his wife crossed the 520 bridge 179 times.
"I don't deny I owe $895 that I am willing to pay," Deskin said.
But he owes way more than that because a $895 toll fee ballooned to more than $14,000 through late fees and interest.
"That's ridiculous, I think it's predatory," Deskin said.
Deskin thought all the crossings were automatically being paid through his Good To Go! account.
"I didn't know they weren't drawing it out of my bank till way after the fact," Deskin said.
By then, he owed the Washington State Department of Transportation thousands of dollars. A collection agency then took over for WSDOT, adding thousands more in collection and interest fees.
"It was unbelievable that that was happening," Deskin said.
Q13 FOX News went to WSDOT to find out what went wrong.
"They need to have that Good To Go! account in positive standing," WSDOT Director of Toll Operations Patty Rubstello said.
WSDOT says they sent the couple 33 toll bills, including late notices.
Deskin admits he received the late notices but he says it didn't explain that his bank account was in the negative. At first, he said, he assumed the notices were a mistake.
But every time Deskin didn't have enough money in his account, the state didn't get paid.
"If they don't pay after 80 days, it results in a notice of civil penalty," Rubstello said.
The penalty is $40 for each late toll.
Q13 FOX News asked why the penalty is so high.
"They key is to get attention — what we want is people to pay their tolls. We are not interested in the $40."
Deskin came to Q13 FOX News, hoping WSDOT and the collection agency taking him to court will give him a second chance.
"I want to pay the tolls. I don't want to pay the additional $13,000 because I don't have it," Deskin said.
Whatever happens, he's now changed his habits.
"I've gotten into the habit of knowing what's in my bank account daily," Deskin said.
WSDOT promised to look into Deskin's case further and Q13 FOX News will follow up on their decision.
If there is something wrong with your Good To Go! account, WSDOT says they always send notices alerting the account holder that something is wrong and to call customer service.