Thousands being chased after failing to pay Dart Charge | Smart Highways Magazine: Industry News

Thousands being chased after failing to pay Dart Charge

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More than 55,000 penalty charges remain unpaid from December after drivers failed to pay the Dart Charge at the Dartford Crossing.

Over 18,000 foreign drivers are being chased by a European debt recovery agency after failing to make payment.

The Highways Agency said that more than 90% of chargeable journeys made at the Crossing during December have now been paid for.

130,306 penalty charge notices have been sent to drivers who used the crossing in December without paying, which has resulted in a further 73,898 payments being received. First time contraventions include an offer of an extra 14 days to pay the crossing charge without penalty.

Highways Agency project director Nigel Gray said: “These figures show drivers are getting to know and understand Dart Charge, and is that our approach of offering drivers an extended period to pay any vehicle’s first crossing charge is getting the right results. The vast majority of drivers are paying Dart Charge and each day this continues to rise.

“It’s great that well over half a million drivers have registered for a Dart Charge account and are benefitting from discounted crossings. This means that in many cases drivers are paying less to use the Crossing now than before Dart Charge was introduced. I urge anyone who uses the Crossing more than a couple of times a year to sign up for an account and benefit from savings.”

Dart Charge was introduced on 30 November 2014 to help speed up journeys at the Dartford Crossing by removing the need to stop at a barrier to pay the crossing charge. Instead, drivers can pay online, by phone or at one of thousands of retail outlets nationwide.

However, according to a BBC report some users of the Crossing have experienced problems with the new system. Complaints have centred around delays and failures of the computerised system for setting up accounts to pay the new Dart Charge.

Gray admitted that the Agency had been “experiencing teething problems” and told the BBC: “The scheme is delivering significant benefits to most drivers. We are dealing with up to 140,000 crossings a day so it would be most surprising if we didn’t get some hiccups.

“We are working really hard to try and improve the service but it is still very early days for us.”


Why should there be a charge at all?
By removing the infrastructure for charging, policing and debt collecting, would any charge still be required?
Without charging there would be free flowing traffic and save users time and money as well.
Old school thinking, toll roads belonged in the 17th century. Some people look back too fondly at money grabbing systems whilst they are grabbing it for themselves.

It’s utterly wrong that they changed the charging method on a national / international route without making it clearer *on the road* what it costs to make the crossing. I use it less often than once a year and was looking for a sign with a price on it when I crossed last christmas. When I didn’t see one, I assumed it was free for the holiday / during the transition to a new system. It can’t be right that the first time you know you’ve incurred a debt is when you receive a penalty for not paying it.

Get the signs right. Send invoices, not penalties for the first unpaid crossing by each vehicle.

Totally agree with you Sean. I also use the crossing only occasionally. I knew the charge had changed but as I went thorugh I didn’t see signs, in either direction. I was expecting to recieve an invoice. I noted in my diary to chase it up if I didn’t get one after two weeks. When I chased it up I was shocked to find out that you have an obligation to pay within 24 hrs, even if you didn’t receive any advice or invoice. On top of that, there is no clear way to complain in writing and you have to give Dart Charge credit payments by registering with them. They now have £20 of my money to invest until I go through the crossing next time. They also have my credit card details, which I don’t want. To think that this is run by the Government is very disappointing, but I suppose not surprising with their poor record of project management and shifting obligation to the people they are supposed to serve.

I received and successfully made representations against my PCN for our holiday return in jan 15. Queried why they had missed my outward journey. Now, three months later just received a second PCN for the outward journey. The system is clearly flawed, as a paid in advance. Making representations against incorrect PCNs must be costing a staggering amount of admin time for both the customer and dart charge. A great example of a poorly designed and poorly executed system, maximising inconvenience for all and wasting money. I would welcome a chat with whoever is responsible. Anyway I have now issued my own PCN to Dart charge and given them 14days to pay.