Thursday, April 23, 2009

Congestion charge - you couldn't make it up

I have long been one to complain about the level of customer care in Spain in general, and Spanish banks like UCI and Solbank in particular. But since returning to the UK we have encountered a couple of ridiculous situations. BT was the first, which is ongoing, and covered in earlier blogs.
The second is the wonderful London Congestion charge. Here is what happened :-

The GLW (good lady wife) drives in to London, and her normal route blocked by roadworks, so she takes a detour and has to do a U-turn in a road which may be inside the charging zone.

She's not sure, but thinks we may have to pay the charge.

I go onto the website and follow the payment process

Put in her number plate and it identifies the make and model of car

Great , the system has recognised the car so it must have entered the zone, I thought

As a test, I entered the number plate for my car, and the system allowed me to start paying the congestion charge for yesterday

Hang on - my car didn't get within fifty bloody miles of the congestion zone yesterday!!!!!!

So I call them :-

"My wife thinks she may have entered the zone yesterday"

"Well you can check on a map"

"She doesn't know exactly where is was, so she isn't sure"

"Oh, well we aren't linked to the camera capture system"

"So you don't know and can't tell us if the car entered the zone?"


"So if I don't pay, because we aren't sure, then what happens?"

"Well if she went in the zone, you will get a penalty notice"

"OK, so if I pay, and she didn't go in the zone, then we get a refund?"

"No, sorry"

"Why not?"

"Because the congestion charge in non-refundable"

"But you are forcing me to pay, although you can't tell me if I need to pay, so if I didn't need to pay, I am wasting 10 pounds?"

"Sorry. We don't have access to that data"

Jesus. I spent years living in Spain not believing people that said how fucked-up things were here. How can they not tell you if you have to pay the charge - it just implies that you have to pay or suffer a bigger fine........

1 comment:

Luke said...

I had a similar situation. I know I was near the zone but couldn't recall if I entered it or not.

I got the same nonsense about not being able to check etc, so I asked if it was possible to register that I had called and refer back to the phone call and being willing to pay if I was issued with a penalty notice. The idea being that I could pay the charge and not the penalty. Seems fair as I'm not trying to avoid paying the charge, I just don't want to pay it if I didn't enter the zone.

No dice. They actually said they weren't allowed to use common sense and that it wasn't there department. The spirit of "computer says no" is alive and well in TFL!