The AA has called for improvements to be made to the Dart Charge system after some drivers using the Dartford Crossing were charged twice due to glitches with the payment system.
New payment arrangements went live at the Dartford Crossing in November. Instead of stopping at a barrier to pay the Dartford Crossing Charge, drivers can use Dart Charge to pay online, by phone or post or at one of thousands of retail outlets nationwide. Payment can be made in advance or up to midnight the day after using the crossing.
Six months on drivers are continuing to experience teething problems with the system, with one telling Highways Magazine: “Have received a penalty charge notice (PCN) for a crossing I did not make. Have disputed it, but not heard anything back in six weeks. Rang Dart Charge, PCN still outstanding, causing me distress. No way to contact the people dealing with disputes, no email or telephone number. No details about complaints procedure. Not good enough.”
Another complained that they had received a penalty charge notice for a car that wasn’t theirs. They said: “The machine read the licence plate wrong by one digit. We were told the only way to deal with it was in writing therefore costing us time and money for something we had no control over. We received a letter back saying we were right and no charges were made but when we thought it was all done and dusted we’ve since received two more PCN’s for that same car!? The system simply does not work!”
The above provides a snapshot of some of the comments received by Highways in response to our story entitled ‘Thousands being chased after failing to pay Dart Charge’.
The AA has also received complaints with Clive Turrell tweeting: “Twice I’ve credited my account online without it appearing on my account. When you call, staff haven’t a clue.”
Another customer emailed the AA to say they had two payments taken for the same crossing in February.
AA president Edmund Kind said: “The new scheme has undoubtedly eased the congestion at busy times but, for some, there is a new concern regarding the behind-the-scenes bureaucracy that accompanies this supposedly high-tech, non-stop tolling. We expect appeals to ramp up in the coming months and if the authority does not act quickly to reduce errors it could be embarrassing.
“With the scheme now into its sixth month, the AA calls for a transparent review of customer service standards and the performance of the electronic processes so any needed improvements can be made. The AA also believes a complaints system and ‘users group’ should be established to ensure users have a voice.”
A Highways England spokesperson said: “The vast majority of the 100,000 chargeable crossings at Dartford made each day are processed accurately and smoothly. Given the scale of transactions from time to time errors will be made for which we apologise unreservedly. When we are made aware of issues we work with customers to resolve them as quickly as possible. We continue to work hard to ensure that errors are kept to an absolute minimum.”