Toll-busting Trick Provides Car Leasers With a Free Ride

A car travels from Hadera to Ashdod on Road No. 6. The driver should pay for every section of toll road used during the trip. How much will the driver pay at the end of the journey? Don't rush to answer. Sometimes the answer is: Nothing.

Some employees who drive vehicles leased by the high-tech company ECI, with transponders installed so they can use road No. 6 cheaply, have dismantled the transponders from the leased cars and reinstalled them on their own vehicles. So when a private vehicle uses road No. 6, ECI is automatically debited for it. (Transponders are wireless devices that send and receive radio signals.)

The transponders are installed on windshields by hi-tech companies that own many vehicles and so enjoy lower toll rates than the hoi polloi.

"Owners of leased cars with transponders have been transferring them from one vehicle to another since road No. 6 began operation. The bill is then sent directly to the high-tech company," said Avri Navon, director of ECI's housekeeping department. "At ECI, we have reached a situation where we have to insure ourselves," said Navon. He said the company had been installing video equipment, without the employees' knowing about it, to see exactly which vehicle has used No. 6.

Navon said the phenomenon is not limited to ECI. In addition, high-tech companies are not always willing to pay for the trips made at their expense. "Some high-tech companies refuse to pay Derech Eretz [which operates Road No. 6] when they receive debits for travel unrelated to the vehicle in which the transponder is installed. It causes friction and many problems that can be resolved only by creating a video subscription that records the employee's movement on road No. 6."

Derech Eretz commented that transponder signals are picked up when drivers pass toll gates, such that the vehicle is not photographed. "If the customer moves the transponder from one vehicle to another and does not update the company systems as required," the company added,"it is impossible to know which vehicle was traveling."

Derech Eretz added that according to the subscription agreement, the transponder is meant for debiting toll fees only for the vehicle to which it has been designated, and use of a transponder in a different vehicle may result, among other things, in double debiting of use.