Published: 00:01, 26 November 2014
It can easily be done. A driver heading over the new toll-less Dartford Crossing could forget to pay the charge by midnight the next day and find themself faced with a £70 fine.
However, a new company aims to take away the headache of paying on time with a service giving motorists seven days to cough up, without the threat of heavy penalty charges.
Dartsave has launched its free online service in time for the changes to the crossing being introduced at 6am on Sunday, November 30.
Motorists who tap in their registration details will automatically have their fee paid by the firm every time they use the tunnel or bridge.
They will then be emailed a reminder telling them to pay the charge within a week.
If they fail to pay within that time – charged at the pay-as-you-go rate of £2.50 for cars and up to £6 for larger vehicles – they are sent out another reminder, this time with a £5 “adminstration fee” – still much lower than the £70 fine.
Its founder Chris Billing, an entrepreneur based in Norwich, believes his new venture will take away the fear of fines for drivers.
“I feel a lot of people will drive through the crossing and not remember,” he said. “We are looking at this as something which will stop a lot of people getting fined.
“You don’t get seven days to pay through any other system.”
Mr Billing believes the scheme saves members a headache on two fronts.
Motorists who open a pre-paid Dartcharge account with operator Sanef have to deposit a minimum of £10 to cover future charges, similar to how London commuters use Oyster cards.
However, if the amount people have in their account is not enough to pay the crossing charge, they will still receive a £70 fine if they do not pay by midnight.
Dartsave does not require a deposit and always automatically pays, taking away concerns about accounts going overdrawn.
Mr Billing said: “It’s frightening that if someone with a Dartcharge account fails to keep their account in credit, any passages will be put into the general ‘unpaid crossings pool’ with no notification that the crossing has been used.
“If they fail to pay for that particular registration by midnight the next night, they get a £70 fine – even though they have an account.”
Mr Billing company makes money by registering all its members to Dartcharge and paying the lower pre-paid account rates for each crossing.
He runs another registration-based business, administrating charges for parking and washing vehicles for lorry fleet operators. It has 23,000 vehicles registered.
The Dartcharge website states that motorists will receive a £70 penalty charge notice if they do not pay their crossing fee by midnight the day after they cross but that this is reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days. It increases to £105 if it is not paid within 28 days.
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