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Congestion Charge Fine - Is this fair?

(13 Posts)
Sycamoretree Fri 12-Sep-08 11:38:07

I drive into central London every day for work. Yes, I know, terrible me. The reason I drive is because I don't finish work until 6.30/7pm and beyond. My DH is a SAHD. If I am to stand any chance of getting home to put my LO's to bed (1&3) then I have to drive. It's 30 mins by car vs 1 hour on public transport, partly because of how far I have to walk from the tube to my house.

So every day, for years, I've been texting my payment from my mobile before I set off to work (it's the first thing I do before I start the engine).

Last week, on one day, I didn't do this. I don't know why. I don't remember NOT doing it. I didn't realise I hadn't until the fine came. I've checked my phone, and sure enough, no text receipt for that day.

Was I tired, jet lagged, perhaps a bit late for work? Probably. But no greater defence than that. Now I have to pay TFL £40. I mean, come on, £40. Because on one day, out of 3 years, I was a human being and was a bit fallible.

Is this fair? Honestly, I'm being fined the same way someone would be who had deliberately not paid, or tried to avoid paying. Should my impeccable payment history count for anything?

What is the PURPOSE of the fine? How is it going to "make me think twice". I'll just pay every day like I always do until, in another couple of years, I have a day like last week and forget. I am angry at how ridiculous and unfair it feels.

Can I do anything? Am I wrong?

3littlefrogs Fri 12-Sep-08 11:46:24

It isn't fair - but then again, lots of things in life aren't fair. I got a parking ticket for getting out of my car for less than 2 minutes to go into the house I was visiting to collect the visitor's pass. The person I was visiting is unable to walk and couldn't bring it out to me. Did that cut any ice with the traffic warden? No. You can't appeal because the fine doubles and the risk is too great.

Is there no way of paying for several weeks in advance? Like a season ticket?

I understand your frustration.

HeadFairy Fri 12-Sep-08 11:51:28

I don't think you can do anything about it really. That's the problem with all these automated systems, they can't differentiate between those that deliberately and repeatedly avoid paying, and those who just forget. You can pay the next day I think (it might be £10 if you pay then or something like that), can you set up a reminder on your phone to beep at you every evening to remind you to pay the charge?

The only time I've forgotten to pay (I don't drive in that often) was the day before my wedding when I went in to town to drop stuff off at the venue. This was before you could pay the next day, so the night before my wedding there I was, lying in bed, thinking about the next day and what I had to do in the morning when I leapt out of bed at ten to midnight to dash downstairs, scrabbling about trying to find my mobile so I could pay it before midnight. Couldn't sleep for hours after that! Cue blearly tired eyes on wedding day, gah!

Sycamoretree Fri 12-Sep-08 11:56:51

Hi frogs - yes, I think there is some kind of pay in advance thing. It'd be amazing if there was some system like they have in the US for regular toll road users - like you have a elecronic pass, bit like an oyster, which just gets recognised when you approach the toll both - it deducts and also opens the barrier.

Funnily enough - I had exactly the same situation as you re a parking ticket when I was dropping my DD off at her nanny share (one day a week it was at another persons house). However, I had an unusually nice traffic warden who told me that next time, I should just put my double indicators on, because it'll make them look up and around and see where the driver might be, and also indicates you are not stopping....not sure it'd wash in all cases but it's something I've employed a lot when "stopping" around London ever since.

My DH also got a fine (caught by a camera in a van - by a person who could obviously see what he was doing) stopping outside a charity shops with LO's in the car - running into the charity shop and running back out. Couldn't have been parked more than 30 seconds!

HeadFairy Fri 12-Sep-08 12:00:30

they do have those tag things for the dartford tunnel, dart-tags I think they're called. I always wondered why they didn't bring them in with the CC.

Sycamoretree Fri 12-Sep-08 12:01:44

Ahhh, HF, that's just terrible!

Yes, I could do the whole reminder thing, on a practical level that's fine. On a level of being a human being and not a machine though, I object to being beeped at 5 days a week just because of a stupid system. And more than likely it'll beep when I'm eating, or when I'm putting the kids to bed and I won't do it straight away and I'll end up with another fine.

OR - hang on a minute - I could put it as a permanent 9am meeting on my outlook diary and it will pop up every morning and I won't delete it until I've paid it - hurrah - I/You are Geni!

HeadFairy Fri 12-Sep-08 12:12:51

I know,it's so irritating being beeped at by a machine. I set endless reminders on my phone due to general blondeness I forget everything... beep beep "get up" beep beep "brush teeth" beep beep "get dressed" etc ad infinitum! You have my sympathies big time though, I always miss ds' bedtime

Sycamoretree Fri 12-Sep-08 12:32:52

I'm sad for you HF, and for myself! - I make it maybe 3 out of 5 bed times - it's crappy isn't it. And because I'm blessed with a toddler who will sleep until 9am if I let her, and a 1 year old who sleeps until about 7.30/8pm (bliss at weekends, of course) I see him for about half and hour in the morning before I leave sad

HeadFairy Fri 12-Sep-08 12:35:52

It sucks doesn't it? I left for work at 6.30 this morning and luckily (for me, not for dh) ds was awake at 5.50, so I got dressed and then had half and hour bfing him before work. I have to be positive and think "oh well, I didn't expect that, so it's a bonus!" I do a job with silly hours though, totally unpredicable, so I may or may not be able to get home to see him tonight. Still, thank crunchie it's Friday

Sycamoretree Fri 12-Sep-08 16:11:06

Sorry - went out for ridiculously long work lunch and am now both tired, a bit fatter, but much closer to end of work - hurray!
How old is your DS? Mine is 1 (just). DD is 3.

HeadFairy Sun 14-Sep-08 20:51:46

Sorry, weekend got in the way....
My ds is also just one, in fact, his first birthday was saturday just gone

IlanaK Sun 14-Sep-08 20:56:57

I have an even more unfair example. I used to drive to work along Euston Rd and out into Essex. This road is the border between paying and not paying. On the way back on time, my ds in the back in a car seat threw up. You cannot pull over on Euston Rd at all so I turned into a side road (just barely around the corner). I got him cleaned up and then drove back onto the Eauston road and home. It never even occured to me that I had gone into the zone by a few feet. I received a fine and when I enquired about appealing it I found out that there are no "special cricumstances" that you can appeal - only if you can show that it was not you driving the car.

janinlondon Mon 15-Sep-08 16:37:28

If you pay in advance and don't use it one day, or your car doesn't start and you have to use one with a different number plate, apparently you can apply for a rebate - but they charge you to do it. And you can probably guess what the charge is......

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