AUSTIN - The shock of being in a war zone was bad enough for an Austin Army serviceman, but when he left Afghanistan three months ago he wasn't prepared for the bombshell he'd return to.
"Right when I come home, I greet my family, everybody gives me hugs and I start collecting the mail... and there's an envelope in there from the Texas Toll Authority," Thomas Peterson said.
After spending 15 months overseas, he came home to find a bill amounting to $27,637.30.
The breakdown of the cost amounts to $1,412.30 for the tolls his family went through while he was away and $26,225 in added fees. Peterson said it's the added fees that upset him and he's hoping to get them sorted out.
"Twenty-six thousand dollars is insane," Peterson said. "That's highway robbery. I can't believe that any agency can get away with this."
Peterson said he contacted a Texas Department of Public Saftey representative and told him he had been serving overseas. He said he was told the bill had been handed over to a collection agency and the final amount owed would have to be worked out with them.
"What they do is they point their fingers at each agency," Peterson said.
"I feel like they're playing a game," Peterson said. "They're using it intentionally to rack up and get more money out of the customer."
Even though Peterson has been away on assignment he said he's not opposed to paying late fees, but wants them to be reasonable.
"I'll pay the $1000," Peterson said. "I'll pay $2,000. I'm not paying $26,000."
A TxDOT representative told KVUE they're looking into this and hope to have a response Thursday.
One of the issues that they're trying to work out is that the family cars are not registered in Peterson's name.
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