Below is an email we have received from a user of the Dartford Crossing. We have removed the sender’s name for reasons that will become apparent.
“I am in a serious situation financially that within the next month will probably see me lose my house and my family as this I have kept to myself for over a year and now I am at a tipping point with no way to escape.
I live in Kent and work in Essex, so have to go both ways most days using the Dartford Crossing, I was fortunate to have a company car for 3 years prior which was automatically paid for so I never had to worry or even think about paying the Toll, the journey was just the norm.
However personal Tax and Tax on my fuel card led me to no option but to ditch the company car and buy my own car. So I just carried on doing the journeys.
At this point I was also desperately trying to sell my house and purchase a new house, and I had not got a lot of money so was just living month to month.
Then the letters started coming through the door – a £2.50 charge was now £35, and a £5 a day one was now £70. When you get 3 or 4 at once you then all of a sudden get £280, then more and more come through, and that’s when you realise that you have not paid. After years of doing it naturally you just don’t think… I spoke to my company and they said they would put my car onto their auto pay account, but I don’t think they did that for a week or so, so more fines came through.
Now I was in a situation of not being able to pay, as I had so many fines. This is where it gets even more out of hand, as I could not afford to pay so it escalated and all of a sudden it was sent to the courts and ended up with Bailiff company (JBW) pursuing me. Each £2.50 crossing then became £197. The Bailiffs turned up at home so I started to find the money. I took out credit cards so that I could pay the debts as I was getting letters and texts everyday.
Things got even worse just after Christmas when the company removed all private cars off of the scheme, and didn’t tell us until a week later, so that meant more fines…
In total I had 67 crossings (about a month’s worth) not paid … all innocent mistakes as I just didn’t think at the start because I had never needed to pay…
It would have cost £167.50.
I am now having to pay off £11,970.59.
In which £6814.50 is the Dart Charge fees.
And £5156.50 are Bailiff fees.
I have currently paid £4,652.09, without my partner knowing, but because of the pressure this has meant I have fallen into arrears with Council Tax and my mortgage too…
I have to pay another £200 next week otherwise I will break my agreement but I can no longer cope with the pressure of hiding it, and I know I can’t pay it next week so the Bailiffs will be at my door…
To date I have now paid the equivalent of 1860 crossings. It was an innocent mistake now I will lose everything. I wrote to my local MP at the start of all the letters for help, and they only advised to make sure I pay the Bailiff on time.
I am only writing this to warn people that debt spirals, and pressure spirals”.
Comment: This is indeed a sad case and shows the problems that can arise with camera enforced payment systems which we have consistently opposed because of the large numbers of accidental infringements that arise. This is one good reason (there are several others), why tolls on such crossings should be removed. It is of course worth signing up for the Dart Charge Autopay system if you use the crossing regularly.
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