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Driving in Italy – Toll Road Problems

If you are driving in Italy, or plan to drive in Italy, you will probably come across the nation’s toll motorways, or autostrada, as they are called in Italy. You might think you are paying toll fees but you may not have.

Usually you receive a slip of paper when entering one of Italy’s toll motorways and pay when you leave the motorway system. A payment receipt should be issued too – except that receipt might actually be a bill.

When driving in Italy, you might think you have paid an Italian motorway toll when in actual fact you may not have. Quite a few Germans driving in Italy have apparently found themselves in this situation.

These Germans are now getting payment requests from an Italian credit collection agency. Many are now scratching their heads wondering why they are being asked to pay.

Some Germans have even been wondering whether the toll road payment demands are little more than a massive massive Italian scam designed to make them pay twice. The payment requests, however, are most probably genuine. What’s the problem?

What has been happening, although this has yet to be verified, is that German drivers were passing through toll booths and paying, except they weren’t. Instead of a payment receipt, these drivers were receiving payment demands, only few, if any, realised that they had to pay anything. Why? Because the demands were in Italian and Germans simply could not understand them.

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The non-payment troubles can reportedly arise when credit card payments fail – either there are problems with credit cards or with the machines processing them. However, whether payments are legitimate or not, the toll booth barriers on Italy’s toll motorways invariably rise  – if they did not, traffic chaos would ensue. What seems to have happened is that millions of Germans – and possibly drivers from other nations driving in Italy – thought they had paid, except they had not.

According to Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, between 2010 and 2014 around 2.5 million Germans used Italy’s toll road motorways without paying. Italy’s toll road operator – the Benetton family – want the money and have been sending out bills to Germans. Residents of other nations may receive payment demands too. Hence this article that might help them understand what has happened.

Keep Those Autostrada Receipts

If you are driving in Italy in the near future and plan to use Italy’s motorway system, then keep those toll road receipts. What you might think are receipts might be bills. If you happen to receive a request for payment several months after driving in Italy, you can use the receipts to check if they are correct.

You might also like to show the ‘receipts’ to Italian speakers so they can check they are really receipts. Note that the toll road bills contain instructions in Italian on where to pay outstanding toll road fees – you have 15 days to pay. If you don’t know Italian, you, like millions of Germans, will have no idea you have not paid and simply will not pay. This is understandable seeing as you have no idea payment is required.

One solution to Italy’s toll road troubles might be to print bills and receipts in other languages. The question is, in how many other languages, and in which languages?

Anyway, just be sure to keep any pieces of paper that come out of Italy’s toll road machines – just in case.

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