A woman who regularly commutes through a toll tunnel claims she has been wrongly been issued more than £800 in fines.
Alison Dulson, an occupational therapist from Hebburn, South Tyneside, drives to her workplace through the nearby Tyne Tunnel.
She has been using an automatic top-up feature to pay the toll to operator TT2 since July last year, ensuring her account always has credit.
But in October, Ms Dulson received 13 penalty notices totalling £808.60 for journeys she made over a five-day period the month before which would otherwise have cost less than £30.
The 44-year-old claims the automatic top-up feature on her account had been deactivated without her knowledge, causing her funds to empty out and allowing the fines to rack up.
She says she immediately reactivated the feature and called TT2, who advised her to appeal but said the feature had yet again been deactivated on her account.
TT2 have since rejected two appeals by Ms Dulson and warned her the fines will rise to £1,328.60 if she does not pay up by November 22.
She told ChronicleLive: ‘At this point in time, my mum who is in her 70s and retired is probably going to have to lend me the money, which is a disgrace.
‘I feel so threatened and intimidated by the cost of the fees that I’m probably going to have to pay it. But I just want them to see sense. They have to see that this wasn’t me.
‘I feel completely intimidated into having to pay it but I’m reluctant to do that at the minute because I’m right. It’s their system but they won’t acknowledge that.’
TT2 says Auto Top-up payments ‘can fail for a number of reasons including security authentication checks by the banking provider, insufficient funds and card expiry’.
The company said: ‘If an Auto Top-up fails and journeys are made, the customer will receive a minimum of three notification emails – one notifying that Auto Top-up has been disabled, plus a low balance email and then an email notifying that there are insufficient funds in their account – after each journey made.’
Ms Dulson insists she had sufficient funds in her account and a valid, functioning card.
She admitted receiving emails about her Auto Top-up being disabled but says they went to her spam folder, meaning she did not see them until too late.
TT2 added: ‘On a previous occasion, we have cancelled a total of nine UTCNs for Ms Dulson, as a goodwill gesture, despite insufficient balance on her Pre-Paid account.
‘Unfortunately, costs are incurred for every journey where a toll is not paid and the UTCNs are issued to recoup that cost. The responsibility lies with the customer to monitor their own account and ensure that they have sufficient funds for their journeys.
‘We would advise that users accept the TT2 email address as a trusted contact or regularly check their junk folders.’
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