How to make sure you don’t forget to pay the Dartford Crossing toll
Now that you know how to pay, it’s just a case of making sure you remember to do so. Heading on holiday can be both exciting and stressful in equal measure, making it easy to forget banal chores such as paying for your trip over or under the Thames… Here are some suggestions to help ensure you don’t come home to a big fine.
Get an extra 14 days to pay: Nearly 3.5million motorists have failed to pay the Dartford Crossing toll since the new system was introduced, however, first-time ‘offenders’ will be given a 14-day grace period when the charge notice is sent out. This allows them to pay the original charge rather than the full fine.
A spokesman said: ‘The first penalty charge notice issued for any vehicle for non-payment of the charge will offer the driver an extra 14 days to pay – and pay for any crossings they have made since.
‘This measured approach strikes the right balance between being clear to drivers they need to pay Dart Charge and giving them every opportunity to do so.’
The additional 14-day period will help most drivers escape fines of up to £210 for a return trip, but please remember, this applies only to the first charge issued to any single vehicle.
Register a Dart Charge account: This will simply take cash from your account for crossings you make – without the need to log on and make individual payments. However, this is best for those who use the crossing on a regular basis, because users have to pay £10.00 to join. This is then used to pay for crossings, but occasional users will have dead money left in the account. See the section above for more details, or join up here.
Set up a new pre-pay account here
Change an existing Dart Tag account
Don’t get scammed: Just like services such as buying road tax and applying for passports, the new Dart Charge payment system – as it is officially known – is likely to be targeted by scammers with copycat websites. Not only will these sites leave you out of pocket for the toll, but they’ll also leave you facing a fine of up to £125.00 for non-payment.
To show how easy this is, a fake site has already been built by digital marketing expert Richard Summers. While his Dartfordcrossingtoll.com site is not asking for money, it’s likely that some won’t be for built with such innocent intentions.
Summers was infuriated by roadside signs sending drivers online to search services such as Google for the payment website – opening up the potential for scammers to take advantage of confusion over the correct website address.
He said: ‘Rather than directing drivers to the official payment website, the signs invite users to use Google. They are practically inviting fraudsters to target people who may not be the most technically savvy to get scammed.’
Don’t pay at any website other than https://www.gov.uk/pay-dartford-crossing-charge
Case study: Click here to see how copycat websites are costing you cash
Case study: Here’s how copycat websites are costing you cash
Drivers are being charged up to 60% more to use the Dartford Crossing by unofficial websites taking advantage of confusion surrounding the new payment system since toll booths were axed in 2014.
Here we look at one such unofficial website – named dartfordcrossingcharges.co.uk – that’s recently launched…
How it works
There is no suggestion this website is operating illegally, but it certainly doesn’t clearly state on the homepage that it is nothing to do with the official site – or that you’ll be charged an extra 60% for something you can easily do yourself.
In addition to the cost hike, sites like Dartfordcrossingcharges site have no way of effectively checking your details – it even fails to ask what vehicle you are paying for, making it impossible to highlight mistakes when entering the registration mark. The official Dart Charge site will confirm the make and registration before allowing motorists to pay.
Unofficial sites will simply take your money, pocket the admin charge and pay the outstanding toll on the public Dart Charge site – regardless of vehicle details.
It’s also clear the site is targeting millions of foreign drivers who use the crossing each year, with the website offering versions of the payment system in 18 languages.
How to pay the official site:
If paying online, make sure you save cash and get an official receipt by heading here – otherwise you could be left with no proof of payment or means of appeal if something goes wrong.
Comment: The new remote payment system and poor signage has resulted in almost 3.5million fines being issued since the Crossing’s toll booths were axed in 2014.
This is not due to more motorists attempting to avoid payment, but an abject failure of the system to ensure occasional users and foreign visitors know how to pay.
Signage on the M25 urges drivers to ‘search online’ without giving a website URL. It’s this confusion that is costing motorists cash and helping unofficial websites profit from desperate motorists attempting to beat the payment deadline – without the correct information readily available.
We will continue to press for a change to the information and signage informing motorists how to pay.
Set a reminder by location on your phone: Have you got an iPhone? There’s a great feature that will let you specify a location for a reminder to be triggered. So, if you’re booking a holiday and will need to use the Dartford Crossing as you head to our Gatwick park and ride car park, for example, set the reminder to go off as you arrive at our facility. This will give you plenty of time to pay before you fly. You can then do the same for your home address to cover the homeward trip.
The following graphic shows how this smart feature works. Remember to set it when you book your parking with APH.com
1. Open your iPhone’s reminders app – it is standard on the handset
2. Make a new reminder to pay the Dart Charge
3. Hit the ‘i’ button and choose ‘remind me at a location
4. Enter postcode of the tunnel or your destination – where you can pay. Choose ‘when I arrive’
5. The phone will remind you to pay as you arrive at the your destination or crossing
6. Set an identical reminder for your homebound trip – using your home postcode
7. Enjoy a worry-free journey and don’t return to a big fine
There are plenty of ready-made apps that do the same thing for Android users too. Try this…
Geobells Location Reminder…
Alert yourself when you reach or pass a certain location.
Get it here
Warn visitors from overseas: With open borders in Europe, many more people will come to visit the UK from overseas – whether on holiday or to see friends and relatives. Many will arrive through the Port of Dover and go on to other parts of the UK by using the Dartford Crossing. This could leave them open to fines because it has been reported that the smartphone-based payment system cannot handle foreign credit cards. This will result in many tourists being hit by charges through no fault of their own.
If this happens to you, make sure you use the telephone system – which will accept foreign cards – to pay the toll. Don’t expect to get away with fines because the car is registered abroad, either, pan-European collection agents will chase you.
Register with DartSave: This is a company set up to prevent you being fined if you forget to pay the Dartford Crossing charge. Signing up will also extend the time you have to pay from midnight the following day to seven days after using the crossing.
Register for free and Dartsave will pay the toll for you, then send an email reminding you to reimburse them within seven days. If this is not done, the firm will send another email with a £5.00 admin charge attached – still much lower than the £70 fine the Government would levy after just one day – even if you don’t get the email until you get back from your holiday.
Remember – like Transport for London and its Congestion Charge, you will not be reminded to pay your toll by the operating authority, which makes this a great service.
Join up here: www.dartsave.co.uk
Pay both ways: It might sound obvious, but don’t forget that payment is due for each crossing you make… both on your outward and return journey.