Interesting Stories from Drivers using the Dartford Crossing – and Paying the Dart Charge

As this is a blog, it is only natural to stress that we are – and strive to – remain objective in all of our reports and stories. And yet, this is a story that has caught the attention of millions of road users in the UK, especially those that have to traverse the Dartford Crossing more than once a year.

One year on, the new Dartford Crossing payment technology is still having teething problems

One year on, the new Dartford Crossing payment technology is still having teething problems

So in the spirit of good reporting, we bring you the facts regarding the Dartford Crossing and its equally famous Dart Charge.

According to the Automobile Association, or AA, a number of drivers have made certain complaints about the Dart Charge since the scheme was launched late last year. Due to these complaints, the AA has requested vast improvements to the Dartford Crossing’s Dart Charge payment system.


The basics of the Dart Charge

The payment system was brought in to improve traffic conditions at the Dartford Crossing. The new Dart Charge payment system, which was implemented in late November of 2014, was aimed at promoting convenience and ease of use for drivers using the crossing, as instead of lining up at the barrier and paying the charge, drivers had the option to pay the charge online, by post, or through one of the many outlets found in retail establishments across the country. Drivers also had the option to pay for the charge in advance or to pay until midnight of the succeeding day.


Driver issues

But according to some drivers, even a good six months after the new payment system was implemented, they still continued to experience problems with the Dart Charge system. One driver stated that they received a notice for a penalty charge (also referred to as a PCN) for a Dartford Crossing they never even made. This particular driver obviously disputed the charge and the notice, but has not heard back from the agency for more than six weeks. Moreover, the driver charged with a non-existent crossing stated that there is no way to get in touch with anyone dealing with complaints or disputes, as there was no telephone number or email address provided. There were also no details included in the PCN for complaint processes or procedures, which understandably resulted in distress for the driver.

Another driver has a similar story. They complained that they also received a PCN for a – get this – vehicle that wasn’t even theirs. This driver said that the machine reading the licence plates got it wrong by one simple digit, and they were told that the only solution was to put their complaint in writing, thus costing them additional time and effort. The driver did write, but got a letter in response stating that they were right (no surprise there) and they were not being charged, but when they thought the issue was over and done with, they received an additional two notices for the same vehicle. 

Other drivers have complained of being charged two times, while others said that they credited their online Dart Charge account but the credit did not appear.


As a representative of road users, the Automobile Association is calling for a more stringent review of the standards of customer service and the efficiency and overall performance of these high-tech electronic procedures.


The Highways Agency has responded to the issue, saying that the majority of crossings (over 100,000 daily) are processed without any problems, and that given the actual number and scale of online and electronic transactions, errors may occur from time to time. In fairness to the Highways Agency, they do apologise for these unforeseen errors and have promised as quick a resolution as possible.   



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Posted on 19 Oct 2015 in Technology

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