I had evidence I’d paid London congestion charge but robot said ‘no’

I even sent a screenshot of my online statement but the charge still stands

I paid the London congestion charge with my American Express card. The payment showed as “pending” on my bank account for five days, then disappeared.

Customer services said there might have been a problem with Transport for London’s payment system and I should wait for the penalty charge notice (PCN) to come, then appeal. This I did, providing a screenshot of my online statement showing the pending transaction. However, TfL insists the charge stands as there’s no record of my payment.

MK, London

There is an Orwellian logic to the bureaucracy governing the congestion charges levied on drivers in London and those using the nearby Dartford crossing.

Both Transport for London and Highways England, which administers the latter, routinely tell motorists who’ve encountered problems paying, that they must wait for a PCN then appeal before the complaint can be addressed. And since robots with tunnel vision appear to deal with appeals, readers find themselves on a hiding to nothing.

The screenshot you provided is incontestable – it clearly shows a payment of £11.70 to TfL on the date you drove into the congestion zone – yet in its letter to you, TfL declares that you have not provided sufficient evidence that you tried to pay.

It only admitted the obvious after I remonstrated. “It is clear an attempt to pay was made, so we have contacted him to assure him we have cancelled the penalty charge notice,” says Paul Cowperthwaite, TfL’s general manager of road user charging.

If you need help email Anna Tims at your.problems@observer.co.uk or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions


Anna Tims

The GuardianTramp

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