Fleet News

Dart Charge payments improve

Dart charge payment rates have improved, but almost one in 10 motorists are still failing to pay to use the Dartford Crossing and more than 18,000 foreign drivers are being targeted for non-payment.

The Highways Agency says that more than 90% of chargeable journeys made during December have now been paid for, which is up from the 85% recorded at the end of December.

It issued 130,306 Penalty Charge Notices 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.

The Highways Agency said that 18,716 cases have been passed to a European debt recovery agency for issue to overseas drivers.

Highways Agency project director Nigel Gray said: “These figures show 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.”

More than 570,000 Dart Charge accounts have now been set up, at a rate of more than 2,300 a day, meaning more than 1.5 million vehicles are now eligible for discounted journeys at the Dartford Crossing.

Gray continued: “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 November 30, 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.

Drivers with a pre-pay account are eligible for discount of up to a third on every crossing they make. The Highways Agency says that 445,181 more drivers are benefitting from discounted journeys than before the introduction of Dart Charge, – including at least 8,776 more local residents from Dartford or Thurrock.

For drivers without a pre-pay account, payment needs to be made by midnight the day after each use of the crossing.

Drivers who do not pay on time are liable to receive a penalty charge notice (PCN). However, the first penalty charge notice issued for each vehicle offers drivers an extra 14 days to avoid a penalty by paying their original crossing charge.

Drivers are responding positively to this approach with up to 71% of crossings paid following receipt of this first PCN, says the Highways Agency.

It argues that its approach aims to strike the right balance between being absolutely clear about the need to pay the charge while giving drivers the maximum opportunity to avoid a penalty.

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  • Mess - 26/02/2015 11:08

    As a regular user of the crossing I have to say it's a much improved crossing experience. However, the person in charge of communicating the charge to users and anticipating (or not) all the problems for users, should be sacked. Another problem I am aware of is incorrect reading of number plates. A friend of mine has had over 10 penalty charges when the car in the photo they provide clearly has a screw in an unfortunate place on their number plate but also is completely the wrong type of car. So clearly not my friend's car. To add insult to injury, she is the one who, at her own expense, has to write in to dispute the penalty charge. They wont resolve it over the phone even though they admit over the phone it is an obvious mistake.

  • Elizabeth M - 13/03/2015 08:38

    They probably don't even know about the charge. I certainly didn't when I used the crossing. The place looked like a building site (this was going north in December and going south in January) and there was no sign anywhere to say there was a charge. I live in Austria. Now I have a bill for €200 for not paying a charge I knew nothing about in the first place. Absolute extortion.

  • Phil Bungay - 20/03/2015 13:49

    I suspect that communication of the payment procedure is the problem for many motorists. Having returned from France I used the tunnel going north, having avoided the bridge going South due to a detour to Bristol. Approaching the tunnel I expected to pay as per my last use 5 years previously. Torrential rain, rush hour and roadworks aside, we got to the barriers which were all open, no where to pay and so we assumed wrongly that as on other bridges and crossings payment is only one way. Imagine my surprise when 5 weeks later I receive a Penalty Charge notice. There were no signs on approach that easily told me that I had to pay on line, or by phone. So the charge was a bit of a surprise. The Warning letter with it that If I paid the £2.50 the penalty Charge wouldn't apply suggests that the problem is already well known to the powers that be. Yes you may have released details in the press, even had it on national news, but to us in the Frozen North what happens in London is of no interest. Please please put some decent signs up so at least those from outside London know what to do.

  • A.P.Stanley - 21/04/2015 10:11

    I have just received a demand for payment for a crossing which I made on 21st December. I HAD pre-paid for this crossing and a return on 5th Jan. I destroyed that receipt about a month ago, considering that there was no need to keep it any longer. How long after the purported 'offence' can the charge be levied ? It seems to me that a delay of nearly four months before issue of an 'offence' letter is completely unreasonable

    • Patrick Brosnan - 24/04/2015 11:41

      Dear A.P. Stanley, Thank you for posting your story. By extraordinary coincidence I suffered the exact same experience on the same travel date of 21st December. I too prepaid the toll using the web on my smartphone. I too received a penalty notice on 21st April. I too have no receipt. What I have done is replied with the representations sheet with a copy of my credit card statement showing the Dart transaction on 21st December and hope that common sense will prevail. I do feel enraged that I have been put to this trouble with a threat of legal action when I have actually complied with their payment system. Could you please post again with the outcome of any action you take as I believe they have got some gremlin in their data processing system which we have both fallen foul of and if they take an uncompromising approach to resolving this it would be useful to have further evidence of deficiencies in their system to come back at them with. Regards

  • Richard Lawn - 09/05/2015 10:55

    I was charged twice going north for the same journey on 28/12. After a long conversation with the HQ in Leeds I was refunded. Recently, I rented a car on 02/04/15 for one week intending to use the crossing (which I didn't). I added the vehicle onto my account on 02/04 and removed it on 09/04, but I was charged for six crossings in March not made by me. Three long phone calls and two letters later and I still haven't recieved any outcome. They totally dispute my claim. They have also debited my account 2 x £10.00 and only credited £10.00 on my account. Do I really want to go legal for something so petty. If I feel other motorists are in the same hole, I will. This could be a huge scam.

  • Jackie P. - 11/05/2015 14:41

    I hired a car from 21 to 28 April and arranged for my husband (we live in France) to pay for my two crossings (southbound on 21 April and northbound on 28 April) on 21 April. When I returned to France I checked the payments and discovered that one had been taken for 9 April (obviously a journey by someone who had previously hired the car and not paid). So my payment had been credited to someone dishonest and I was left without a payment allocated to my second journey. Despite furious phone calls to the Dart Charge office (who said contact the hire company) and the car hire company (who said contact the Dart Charge) I have got nowhere. I have now written to Dart Charge and wait to see if they re-allocate my payment correctly. This is a disgraceful way to take money from honest people.

  • Christine Tyler - 14/05/2015 12:27

    Perhaps Dart Crossing should have tried telling the rest of the country about these charges! NOBODY I've spoken to in this part of the world (Suffolk) had heard of them, until told by people who have been caught. They just thought that the toll booths weren't operating!

  • Michelle - 18/05/2015 07:09

    I recently went through the dartford crossing, I paid online the charge and got a receipt. But now looking at the receipt I see I got the number plate wrong by a digit missing, so what happens now? Will I get a fine? Please help as I did pay but just noticed it now!

  • Paul B - 18/06/2015 08:52

    Paid for 6 crossings for a company van on 20-05-15, received 6 penalty charge notices for same vehicle on 17-06-15, I have all receipts clearly showing correct index number, system is useless , help line useless. On line payment system randomnly does not produce receipts and when you ring helpline they cant tell if payment was processed or not and to contact card provider to check and then ring them back !!

  • Chris Saville - 19/06/2015 11:48

    Paid in advance for two crossings in April. Fortunately checked the account after and found that the same vehicle had been charged at two different rates (one incorrectly as goods). Emailed Dart Charge soon after and got an assurance that this had been corrected and the account reconciled. Penalty charge arrived this morning!

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