BOGUS CONGESTION CHARGE WEBSITES – TfL CONSULTS
TRANSPORT FOR LONDON is consulting over plans to refuse payments from copycat websites or other unauthorised parties.
Garrett Emmerson, chief operating officer for surface transport, TfL, says: “We continue to work hard to protect our customers from unofficial third party websites that charge extortionate prices for non-existent services.
“By blocking unauthorised payments we will be making a further step towards removing the threat of these sites”
Transport for London (TfL) is asking Londoners for their views on a number of proposed changes to the way that they can pay the congestion charge.
A TfL spokesperson said: “Payments which are made by unofficial ‘copycat’ websites or other unauthorised third parties can mislead customers into paying more than they need to for the congestion charge.
“This change will be another step in combating the menace of rogue unofficial congestion charge payment websites.
“These unofficial sites charge unsuspecting customers up to an £8 extra on top of the daily congestion charge fee for non-existent ‘additional services’.
“In some cases the sites have not even paid the congestion charge on behalf of customers, resulting in penalty charge notices being issued.”
TfL says they have worked closely with Google and a number of other search engines to better enforce their advertising policies to ensure ads for congestion charge payments are not misleading or otherwise unlawful.
“Customers should always pay via the official TfL website to avoid paying unnecessary charges imposed by unofficial sites and remove the risk of receiving a penalty charge notice.
“The proactive action taken by TfL and others has seen the number of payments being made by unofficial payments sites fall significantly. “This additional provision will make it even harder to operate an unofficial payment site that misleads TfL’s customers and is otherwise unlawful.”
TfL is also consulting on proposals to replace the “under-used” SMS payment channel with a Smartphone app that would allow customers to manage payments and view account information.
Garrett Emmerson said: “By creating an app we will offer our customers a simple and effective way to pay the charge and provide them with a range of new functionality. “This will replace the under-used SMS payment service with new and improved functionality.
“We continue to work hard to protect our customers from unofficial third party websites that charge extortionate prices for non-existent services. “By blocking unauthorised payments we will be making a further step towards removing the threat of these sites.’
For more information on the consultation, including supporting documents, and to give your views on the proposal, visit TfL’s website at: www.tfl.gov.uk/ccyourviews The six-week public consultation closes on 12 September 2014.
TfL will then prepare a report for the Mayor setting out the responses received during the consultation. The Mayor will then make a decision on whether or not to go ahead with the proposals with or without modifications.
TfL say the central London congestion charging zone, introduced in February 2003,”has made an important contribution to an unprecedented nine per cent shift from car use to public and other forms of sustainable transport.
“In the decade from its introduction (in 2003) to 2013 the £1.2bn net revenue generated has been fed straight into ongoing investment in the capital’s transport infrastructure. Some £960m was spent on improvements to the bus network, £102m on roads and bridges, £70m on road safety, £51m on local transport/borough plans and £36m on sustainable transport and the environment.
“CC Auto Pay remains the most straightforward way to pay the Congestion Charge and there are more than 235,000 registered accounts.
“It is an automated payment system which automatically records the number of days a vehicle travels within the charging zone each month and bills the account holder’s payment card accordingly.
“Drivers registered for CC Auto Pay never have to remember to pay the charge, avoid fines and pay a reduced daily rate. “An annual £10 registration charge per vehicle applies to register for CC Auto Pay and account holders are able to register up to five vehicles per account.” (Source: Mayor of London press release)
ONE IN FOUR MOTORISTS BREAKING LAW ON DOGS – AND CATS – IN CARS
More than one in four (27 per cent) dog-owning motorists unwittingly break the law when it comes to transporting their pets by not keeping them restrained when their vehicles are on the road, new RAC research has found.
The RAC Pet Insurance study also revealed that four pc of pet (two pc dog and two pc cat) owners have had an accident, or a near miss, as a result of a cat or dog being loose in their car.
According to the Highway Code dogs or other animals should be suitably restrained in a vehicle so that they don’t distract the driver or injure them if the vehicle stops quickly. Official advice from the RSPCA is that dogs are both secure and comfortable during transport.
While the majority agree that it is a hazard to allow a dog to be loose in a vehicle, 28pc said they would let their dog move freely, even in a vehicle full of luggage. Also of concern is that 21pc usually leave their dogs unsecured on car seats while six pc let them travel in passenger footwells.
Of those who do secure their dogs in transit on the road, a third (34pc) restrict their animals to the boot, less than a quarter (24pc) use a pet seatbelt or harness, and just 15pc transport their dogs in a cage or carrier.
As many as 78pc of dog owners travel with their dogs in the car whereas cat owners do not tend to drive with their cats as much, with only 50pc saying they ride with them.
Cat-owning motorists are seemingly more safety conscious as 92pc of those surveyed said their felines were kept in a secure carrier when travelling by car. And, 96pc said they would never consider letting their cat loose in the vehicle.
RAC Pet Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said: “As a nation of dog and cat lovers it is surprising that we seem to give so little consideration to their safety when they are transported in vehicles.
“Unsecured pets in moving vehicles are a real danger, not only to the driver and passengers, but to themselves in the event of an accident or if the driver has to brake suddenly.
“Our research suggests that a sizeable amount of people are prepared to take a risk and leave their dog unsecured, and, worryingly, that more than one in 10 (13pc) do not actually consider it to be a driving hazard.
“While pet owners may feel they know how their dog behaves in the car, nobody can predict what might happen round the next corner or how a dog would react in or after an accident.”
In an emergency – if you see a distressed dog in a vehicle please call 999, or either the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999 (Source: RAC press release)