Published: 00:01, 23 September 2017
Motorists are being warned to take care when paying for journeys over the Dartford Crossing after a woman racked up a huge fine for entering her car registration number incorrectly.
Tina Appleton, 58, was furious when she got with what she thought was an incorrectly issued penalty notice by Dart Charge, which stemmed from a trip to Tilbury, Essex, to see friends five months ago.
She said she was prepared to go to prison instead of paying the fine, insisting she had paid the £2.50 fee before travelling from her home in Elm Avenue, Chatham, on Saturday, March 25.
As of last week she was facing a fine of almost 80 times that amount.
Mrs Appleton said: “I paid for one crossing because I knew we weren’t coming back until the early hours of the morning.
"But then I got a letter saying I had to pay £2.50, so I phoned them and said I had already paid and that it had come out of my bank balance.
“I sent them a copy of my bank statement by post but I kept getting letters telling me to pay.”
By Tuesday, April 18, the requested amount was £72.50, a month later it was up to £107.50, and it now stands at £190.50.
In all that time, Mrs Appleton was asked to send proof of her payment no less than five times – once by post, once via email, and three times via an online form, all of which she did.
Despite that, she continued to receive letters insisting she has not paid for the journey and must pay the increasingly large fine.
She described her communication with people at Dart Charge as “intimidating” and said it was like talking to robots.
The Dartford Messenger contacted Highways England about the dispute, after which it emerged the fine had been issued because Mrs Appleton had entered her car registration number incorrectly on the Dart Charge website.
A spokesman acknowledged the issue should have been picked up sooner and said Mrs Appleton’s fine had been cancelled as there had been a “clear genuine attempt to pay”.
They added people should make sure they double check all their details when paying their Dart Charge to ensure similar disputes do not emerge.
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