A Dart Charge customer is "reluctant" to use the Dartford Crossing again after receiving a false PCN when the new payment system did not recognise his prepayments.

Robert Helle-Lorentzen is frustrated due to the payment discrepancies and penalty charges related to the Dartford Crossing.

The 65-year-old sometimes visits family and friends in Hampshire and Dorset and uses the Dartford Crossing to reach these areas.

Rob, from Essex, told the News Shopper: “Up until recently I've used it and paid the charge with no problem but since they've changed to this new computer system and changed the company - it's just gone mad”.

He purchased two crossings on May 21, and despite using them, he claims they are incorrectly marked as unused on the website after he crossed.

Rob also purchased two more crossings for his crossings in August – but none of the prepurchase crossing were used when he crossed the Dartford Crossing again.

He then received two Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) letters dated November 22, 2023, and November 23, 2023, both referencing an alleged non-payment of a crossing on the morning of August 6.

Rob noticed that both letters shared the same incident reference number but had different dates.

Rob said: "I have had this car since October 2022 and have made seven crossings in that time, some of which through the night so they were free. The government website is still showing the four crossings I paid for and used as being unused.

“It was almost threatening letter - it says ‘we urge you to pay this charge’”

He tried to sort the problem over the phone, but he was dismissed and redirected to challenge online, where a PDF or JPG of the confirmation email is required - which would mean taking a screenshot of the page.

Rob thought could be quite a daunting task for those less computer literate or older.

Rob added: “They said ‘Oh, you have to send a JPEG file of the screenshot’ “I thought that's not very good. Why do I have to do that when it's already on your system?

“It’s quite hard to do a screenshot if you're not good with computers -I know how to but I know a lot of people won't.”

“The bank says that the money's gone out. Dart Charge came back to me back and said ‘we don't know about these transactions’ but hang on, why not? Because it's on your website that I've paid.”

He then challenged the PCN online but found the process to be less than straightforward and did not hear back for a while.

Rob recently checked the government website to track the progress of the PCN and to his surprise, the website indicated that there were no outstanding charges against his vehicle but had not been contacted by Dart Charge or Highways to be notified of these changes.

Even with the PCNs removed, the government website still displays four crossings as unused, despite having paid for and used all of them.

Rob explained that he is concerned that the same thing is going to happen again and his repaid crossings will not work on the system.

He said: “I've got no plans to go over at the minute and I'll be reluctant to. I'll probably go around the other way and then it adds about 20 minutes onto my journey.”

Rob is not the only road user to have faced issues with the new account system as other motorists have informed the News Shopper that they previously experienced difficulties.

Examples of this include trouble re-validating their cards, while others found that their account balances were reset, journeys were not recorded, and local resident permits were removed.

A National Highways spokesperson said: "Having investigated Mr Helle-Lorentzen case we have identified an issue with a duplication of his vehicle registration, where crossings were recorded on one account and paid for on another.

"We have resolved this issue and cancelled all penalty charge notices on this account."