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Dart Charge – Illegitimate Fines

11/12/2015

Dartford Crossing users beware! Dart Charge could knowingly or unknowingly be sending out illegitimate fines to which without evidence such as receipts and detailed records of crossings you may not have a leg to stand on to fight the case. Take it from me that these cases can be immensely stressful. It’s possible that people are being issued illegitimate fines and paying them simply because they can’t remember themselves if they used the crossing on such a date.

I’ve been a user of the Dartford Crossing for 10 years and use it mainly for business. I’d heard many stories from acquaintances and the media since the introduction of the automated tolling system of fines being issued incorrectly, even fines being issued where a direct debit was in place and then not so long ago I had an incident myself whereby Dart Charge issued me two penalty charge notices. One for an outbound crossing and the other for the return crossing on the same day.

Luckily for business purposes I do keep detailed records and receipts for each crossing so I sent them the receipt and challenged the PCN. They then replied saying that my receipt was for a payment that had been reconciled to crossings made on a previous day. I checked the date and time of these crossings and found that I had been walking in central London that day, my car parked in a secure location and the keys upon my person. Furthermore the times of the crossing didn’t correlate with my usual behaviour, I use the crossing for work and would typically be a number of hours before making the return journey whereas the times Dart Charge stated were within 20 minutes of each other.

From this point on the case had to be fought via the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, independently run. This involved both myself and Dart Charge explaining the case and uploading our evidence. To anyone going through this process currently, stay calm, write detailed information thoroughly explaining your case and upload any evidence that will help prove your innocence, I was able to upload my schedule of the day in question.

Needless to say after some weeks Dart Charge were unable to supply any evidence and perhaps more surprisingly uploaded photos of my car with a date stamp from completely the wrong day. Finally after much of what could have been easily avoidable stress I received a notification from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal to say that the case had been dropped, no explanation was given as to why.

I then sent a written letter to Dart Charge in pursuit of an apology and to hopefully shed some light on the cause of the situation and to be reassured it wouldn’t happen again, after much chasing I finally received a pretty generic email whcih went no way to explaining what had happened or how it would be prevented in future. Thankfully after much more chasing I did receive quite a good written appology explaining how the situation had arisen.

I’m sure we can all appreciate that there are going to be teething issues with any new system but in my opinion if it’s obvious a system has issues you don’t issue fines to your customers until you are sure the issues have been resolved. I guess the advise I’d give to any Dartford Crossing useris to keep detailed records and receipts of each crossing.

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