More than £1 million is sitting in unused Dart Charge payment accounts after the coronavirus pandemic left accounts inactive.
According to research carried out by consumer website MoneySavingExpert.com, in November 2020, there were just under 78,000 accounts that had been automatically closed. Remaining inside those accounts was a total of £1,014,414.
Dart Charge accounts are automatically closed if they are not used for 15 months. However, travel restrictions have meant people are making fewer journeys over the past year – and fewer people are using the Dartford Crossing between Essex and Kent.
The usual process surrounding inactive Dart Charge payment accounts is that drivers get a warning their account will be closed when it has not been used for one year. If no action is taken by the account holder in the next three months, the account is then automatically closed.
However, questions have been raised about whether this is a fair system in the midst of a global pandemic. The answer is: not really.
Many drivers who had previously used the Dartford Crossing to travel to work or for leisure before the coronavirus restrictions came into play in March 2020, were unaware that their accounts had been closed. As we move out of the latest restrictions, those drivers risk being charged a fine next time they use the crossing.
Highways England, which manages the Dartford Crossing, has asked that drivers get in contact if they are worried their account might be about to – or has been – closed.
Steve Nowottny, news and investigations editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “It’s hard to explain why people should have to call up to get their money back when their account has been automatically closed.”
Highways England have said account holders can request a refund from inactive Dart Charge payment accounts at any time.