In the News Box

An Orlando man discovered renewing your vehicle’s tag online can be risky and when he was slammed with hidden fees, he turned to Action 9 for help.

Ron Reed just renewed his Florida tag. He avoided tag office lines by going online. It was convenient and fast but then the bill arrived. “It was real shocking.  I couldn’t believe we had to pay that much,” said Reed.

The tag cost $46 but now his credit card was hit for another $20 service charge. Plus another $9.50 in fees. And it wasn’t the state, it was a private company called eTagsDirect that took his money.

Reed swore he used an official tag site not a private vendor. “Absolutely ridiculous, the fee they’re charging, way too much for what they do,” said Reed.

eTagsDirect has dozens of BBB complaints. Many claim they were tricked into using the site then hit with hidden fees.

Orange County’s Tax Collector hears the complaints. “It’s because people accidently click on that and it’s the first website they get to.” Scott Randolph says the company deliberately pays to top google searches for tag renewals. He calls that deceptive. And with 50 percent of drivers renewing online, lots of folks are now targets. “They see our efforts to get people to renew online and say wow there’s an opportunity to sneak in there,” said Randolph.

eTags website discloses it’s not a county or state tag office.

After Todd Ulrich called the company, it’s considering Reed’s refund.

“eTags is making a whole bunch of money,” said Reed.

Ron Reed and others claim you don’t find out about the hidden fees, until a day after the purchase. He’s also contesting the charge with his credit card company.

Renewing online is so easy—but how can you avoid ending up on this company’s website.

Online, don’t do a google search for tag renewal. That’s when eTag and other companies like it top the list. Go to the county tax collector or the state DMV sites first and link from there.

Source: WFTV Ch. 9