Driver left 'furious' after missed £1.90 Tyne Tunnel toll turns into £166 debt
A driver has been left furious after a £1.90 Tyne Tunnel ticket has escalated to a £166 debt after waiting for a letter which never came.
Sheena Gawler, 53, made a rare journey through the Tyne Tunnel in September after being diverted due to road closures when driving her son back home from football training.
Using the pay later system, Sheena selected a £1.90 ticket and admittedly to her own fault, forgot to pay the fee by the next day.
After realising she had forgotten to pay for the ticket, Sheena went online where she was told she had missed the deadline and would be receiving a £30 fine through the post.
In order to pay the fine, Sheena, who is a user researcher, required a Tyne Tunnel reference number which would be on the letter apparently sent to her. However, she claims the letter never arrived.
Sheena said: “I forgot to pay the £1.90 the next day which was completely my fault. After I realised I went online and it said I would receive a fine, and I thought ‘my bad’, I’ll just have to pay it, but you can’t pay the fine without a reference number which you don’t get until you receive a letter confirming your fine.
“I waited for the letter and it never came. After that I just totally forgot about it and next thing I know three months later we got a debt recovery letter for £166 because we hadn’t paid the original £30 fine, but I never got the opportunity to pay it. It’s a huge hike up in money from the original fine.”
After explaining the situation to debt collectors at the tunnel operators TT2, Sheena says she was told she would still have to pay the £166 in full and was unable to appeal.
Sheena, from Newcastle, added: “I feel like it’s a total stitch up and I’ve really been shafted. It has left me feeling really furious and that it's completely unjustified that I’ve been treated like a thief trying to dodge the system when I would have paid the original £30 fine.”
A spokesperson for TT2, which operates the Tyne Tunnels, said: “The vast majority of our customers pay their toll on time. Those who don’t are sent three letters asking them to either pay a fine, or to appeal the fine.
“If the customer does not respond to any of these three letters, a third party is instructed to write to them, to recover the debt. Each of the letters clearly states how to pay and how to appeal the fine.
“We want to engage with customers and help them resolve any genuine issues they have for not being able to pay.
“Drivers now drive straight through and either pre-pay, or pay by midnight the day after their journey.
“People can pay online at tt2.co.uk, over an automated phone line on 01915740030 or at PayPoint retailers. They can also set up a pre-paid account with auto top-up and save 10% on every journey.”