Dartford Crossing charge firm told me not to pay, but still fined me £2,230 | Money

In November I had to start using my boss’s car for work. After making my first journey across the Dartford crossing on the M25, I tried to pay the Dart charge. I typed in the car’s details but the website clearly stated there was “no crossing to be paid”.

I presumed that this meant my boss had the car on his own Dart account. As a result, I did not add it to my own account.

Skip forward three months, and the penalty charge notices (PCNs) started to land. I now have 23, issued between November 2023 and February 2024, at a total cost of £2,230. I have appealed but each one has been refused.

Had they sent me the first PCN within a week or two, I would have accepted that it was my mistake and paid the charges. I don’t mind paying the first week or two’s worth, but I object to the rest, and appear to be paying for its administrative failings. I have since heard of other people that are going through the same battle. Can you help?

LS, Tonbridge

In the past few weeks, since we last wrote about problems with the Dart charge, we have had a number of letters from some very disgruntled users, with this story being one of the worst.

I can see why you are very frustrated. When you changed cars you would not have known that a new company – Conduent – had taken over the payments system in July, and it was in chaos.

Problems have been blamed for thousands of issued fines, including more than 2,500 to one fleet vehicle operator.

Figures obtained by the trade magazine Fleet News in May, through a freedom of information request, found that the number of PCNs issued for non-payment had increased by 50%.

I asked National Highways, which manages the crossing, about your case, and it has agreed to waive these notices provided you pay the £65 you would have paid in crossing charges. “We apologise for the inconvenience, and have reviewed our process so this doesn’t happen to other customers in the future,” it says.

When using the crossing you need to make sure you get, and crucially keep, receipts for all payments.

Faced with an error message, it’s a brave person who assumes that things have worked and that they have paid for their crossing.

Should you receive a PCN, the Dart charge enforcement team is on 0300 1313 120.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions.


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