A consumer rights watchdog has urged the government to review the hefty fines imposed on motorists who fail to pay a toll in the new M-Flow toll collection system.
Many motorists were not aware they were subject to paying a fine 10 times the actual amount of the toll if they failed to pay within two days.
"It's a ridiculously short deadline," said Naruemon Mekborisut, a deputy director at consumer rights protection group Foundation for Consumers.
It appears the 10-fold fine follows the standard of legal punishment against defaulters of general debts, she said on Wednesday. However, it could not be applied in this case because the heavy fine is normally enforced on people who miss more than one debt instalment.
"The fine they charge is outrageously unfair," Ms Naruemon said.
Low public awareness about the rule that motorists passing an M-Flow gateway are required to pay tolls within a couple of days is apparently the result of an insufficient public relations campaign to promote the new system, she said.
Getting an M-Flow account is inconvenient for many people as they are required to submit many documents. "It's like applying for a bank loan," she said.
The barricade-free M-Flow system, designed to reduce traffic build-up at toll plazas, operated on a trial basis from last October to Feb 15 when the system began charging at four tollgates on Motorway No 9 (Bang Pa-in-Bang Phli ring road): Thap Chang 1, Thap Chang 2, Thanyaburi 1 and Thanyaburi 2.
Social media has been flooded with complaints about the hefty fines.
Many motorists said they had no idea they owed so much money.
The Highways Department is in the process of helping individual motorists who are facing fines while also improving public understanding about the M-Flow system, according to a source in the department.
More convenient channels of toll payment will be made available such as QR code use and allowing motorists to pay by counter service at convenience stores.
Motorists are also urged to register with M-Flow before using the system. Registration will enable them to access the more convenient payment methods.
Otherwise, non-members can go to the department's website to arrange for toll payment.