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TfL admits congestion charge autopay problems

Fleet firms face overcharging and false fines

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Transport for London has said that it is 'aware of some problems' with the IBM-managed system used by fleet companies to pay the congestion charge.

Customers have reported issues with the the autopay system, including being overcharged and receiving wrongly issued fines. The online service is used by companies that regularly send vehicles into the congestion zone. London's mayor Boris Johnson has said he plans to extend autopay to private vehicles.

The system enables fleets, lease companies and vehicle rental suppliers to receive a £1 discount off the £8 congestion charge if they register their vehicles online so they are automatically charged when they enter central London at specified times. IBM introduced a new online system in November 2009, after taking over operation of the congestion charge from Capita.

TfL said that the problems have not affected individual paying customers. A spokesperson told GC News: "The technical issues have been addressed and the vast majority of accounts are now operating well. Owing to the nature of fleets, it will take time for this to be reflected in all cases."

The spokesperson added: "TfL is working closely with fleet operators to ensure that the system works effectively in the future."

Car rental company Miles & Miles, which spends around £5,000 a month on the congestion charge, told GC News that it is still experiencing problems despite notifying TfL. The organisation called it a "laborious" task to add or remove a car from a list on the system and said some cars disappear altogether.

It was also charged £8,000 within the first month of IBM taking over in December, when the fee should have been around £4,000. The firm said it was only recently reimbursed by TfL. One of its cars was charged entering the congestion zone, when it should have been exempt as it was a hybrid model, the business added.

"The trouble is the website is designed by a two year old. It's slow, it's not user-friendly, it's dreadful. I could do better myself," said operations director at the car rental company, Bryan Thompson.

He suggested that IBM "should buy the old site from Capita" as there were "no problems" with the former system.

Thompson added: "Since IBM took over the auto pay system my life has been a misery."

IBM declined to comment on the issue. When asked whether it has been in contact with TfL about the system problems, a spokesperson said: "Well no, because that would imply that there are problems."

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

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