Nearly 78,000 drivers who pay the Dart Charge might be in line for a refund after accounts were automatically closed due to inactivity.
An investigation by consumer website MoneySavingExpert.com has revealed that in November last year, 77,949 accounts had been closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. After months of lockdowns and travel restrictions, many pre-paid Dart Charge accounts have been lying dormant, with a total of £1,014,414 still in them.
However, drivers may be able to reclaim the money that is owed to them.
If you have a Dart Charge payment account you haven’t used for a while, here’s what you need to know.
How do Dart Charge accounts become inactive?
If drivers don’t travel through the Dartford Crossing (the tunnel and bridge linking Kent and Essex) for a year, they are notified that their account will be closed. If it is then not used for a further 90 days, the account is permanently closed.
Because of data protection laws, account holders’ personal data must be deleted. This is the reason given by Highways England, which manages the Dartford Crossing, why it is unable to reopen automatically closed accounts or automatically refund account holders.
Time to take action
If you have been emailed to say your account will be closed, it’s time to take action. Here’s what you can do…
Request your account to stay open: Call customer services and request that your account stays open. This isn’t usually an option, but Highways England has recognised the disruption caused to travel plans by the pandemic and are urging people to get in touch. This will mean your account remains open for a further 12 months, regardless of whether you use the crossing.
Check if your account is active: If you have a Dart Charge payment account and are unsure of its status, you can call customer services on 0300 300 0120 to find out more. They will tell you if your account is still active and advise on the next steps.
Request a refund: If you want to close your account or it has already been closed and you want to ask for your money back, you need to call customer services. There are no time limits on refund requests, and the money will be paid back to the debit or credit card linked to the account.
Create a new account: If your account has already been closed but you still want to use the crossing and pay the Dart Charge, you’ll need to set up a new account. If you have money in your old account, you can call the customer services number above and request a refund.
Speaking about the situation, Steve Nowottny, news and investigations editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “Ideally, those with money stuck in closed accounts would be automatically refunded. But with that not happening, the message to motorists is clear – if you have got a prepay Dart Charge account you’ve not used in a while, check if it’s closed and if so, whether you’re due money back.”