Home Money My uncle has £14,000 in fines on Dart charges despite trying to settle, now the bailiffs are at his door…

My uncle has £14,000 in fines on Dart charges despite trying to settle, now the bailiffs are at his door…

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Accumulation: Prepaid customers are charged £2 per crossing, while those who pay later will pay £2.50 each time.

I’ve been reading an article about This is Money and thought it might help my uncle, Mr R, who has a £14,000 fine outstanding with Dartford Crossing.

Last year, he moved from London to Kent and crossed Dartford Crossing several times.

During this time, your account did not automatically add more funds to pay for these crosses and as a result, you ended up with almost 80 PCN.

However, these were sent to his old address, so he was unaware of the fines.

Accumulation: Prepaid customers are charged £2 per crossing, while those who pay later will pay £2.50 each time.

Despite losing the cards, my uncle agreed with Dart Charge to pay £166 to settle the crosses, but was unable to log into his account to make the payments, despite contacting them about this.

In addition to this, the letter requesting this payment had a deadline even before the request was received.

Dart Charge now says it is beyond the point of paying for crossings alone, and is now pursuing it for £14,000 in fines.

He doesn’t know what else to do other than declare bankruptcy or try to get a £14,000 loan. We are at a stage where bailiffs deal with your case day by day.

Harvey Dorset from This is Money replies: Moving house can be stressful at the best of times, so I can imagine your uncle’s relief at having an automatic payment account for Dartford Crossing, especially since he crossed the crossing several times during his moving period.

The crossing became toll-free a decade ago, meaning regular users have the option of receiving automatic payments if they are registered, or must make one-time payments on its website.

Oh, the wonders of modern technology. Not having to pay for the crossing every time would give you one less thing to worry about during this stressful period. Or so I would have thought, and it is understandable.

However, the opposite has happened. His uncle was hit with a huge fine that he can’t afford to pay, and he has had repeated attempts to resolve the issue with no response, to the point where bailiffs show up at his door daily.

To make matters worse, he had agreed to settle the charges with Dart Charge, but found himself unable to do so even when he tried. According to the evidence he sent us, his uncle did not receive the settlement application until August 1 last year, even though the payment deadline was July 12.

Unsurprisingly, this has caused his uncle an enormous amount of stress and forced him to consider filing for bankruptcy.

In fact, the process to try to appeal the fine, claiming that he could not access his account and therefore could not pay the settlement, has dragged on for months.

Free flow: Toll booths at Dartford Crossing replaced by 'Dart cargo' in 2014

Free flow: Toll booths at Dartford Crossing replaced by ‘Dart cargo’ in 2014

Meanwhile, several attempts to contact Dart Charge met with no response, before being informed that the situation was now in the hands of bailiffs.

I contacted National Highways, the government agency responsible for Dart Charging, and explained your uncle’s situation.

I am pleased to inform you that, as a result, National Highways has agreed to offer you a new deal of £195, equivalent to £2.50 per crossing.

While this is, of course, higher than the original £166, it is a world away from the £14,000 she had been desperately looking for a way to pay without sinking into debt or bankruptcy.

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A National Highways spokesperson said: National Highways received Mr R’s challenge against the PCNs issued to him on 27 June 2023, however the deadline to lodge the challenge had passed.

Despite the late challenge, National Highways contacted Mr R with an offer to settle the PCNs at the Dart Charge account rate (£2.00) subject to him replenishing his Dart Charge account with sufficient balance to cover the cost of pending crossings.

Mr. R had until July 12, 2023 to accept this offer, but no contact was received and this offer expired.

A total of 78 PCNs were issued to Mr R for unpaid crossings, of which Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) IK******* was raised to enforcement officers, Marston’s Ltd. A payment of £426.50 was made on 16 June. 2023 resolving this PCN.

National Highways advises that pending PCNs have now been put on hold.

Due to the technical difficulties experienced by Mr R, National Highways has taken the decision to offer him the opportunity to settle any outstanding PCNs with the road user charge of £2.50 per crossing and issue him a refund for the payment made against the PCN IK. *******. National Highways cannot offer Mr R to pay for crossings at the account holders rate of £2.00 per crossing.

Payment of £195 to settle Mr R’s outstanding PCNs can be made online or by contacting Dart Charge customer services on 0300 1313 120 between 8am and 8pm An email was sent confirming this offer to Mr. R on May 7, 2024.

Harvey Dorset adds: This is Money has been reporting on Dart Charge’s outrageous fines for the past seven years.

We have even received one for £30,000, and we will continue to defend ourselves against these increased fines which we believe are unjustifiable.

Have you been given a huge fine at Dartford Crossing? Get in touch: editor@thisismoney.co.uk

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