Sally sorts it out: I was hit with Ulez charges after putting custom license plates on my 2021 Hyundai
Can you help resolve my six-month-old battle with Transport for London (TfL)? I purchased a 2021 Hyundai Hybrid on May 20 last year and then replaced the standard number plate with my own.
To my surprise, I received an Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) charging notice on June 9, even though the car complies with Ulez standards. Two more charges followed. I challenged these things, and at the same time, I received more punishments.
In July, Transport for London recognized my car as compliant and canceled several tickets. But not a single one was cancelled, and in December, my car was later locked out.
As a health professional, I need access to my car to care for patients. I had to pay almost £600 to have my car unlocked.
False Fine: The reader is charged a ULEZ fee for a fully compatible vehicle after obtaining a personalized number plate
Sally Hamilton answers: Having a personalized number plate can make a driver’s car stand out from the crowd of other motors on the road.
But I’m sure this isn’t what you were expecting when your drive attracted the repeated attention of TfL’s Ulez sanction duty collectors.
When you contacted TfL, it turned out that although your car may be compatible with Ulez, it took some time for TfL’s data processors to realize this.
TfL says it receives regular updates from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) on compliant vehicles and their number plates – but only every four weeks.
Non-compliant vehicles are likely to include petrol cars dating from before 2005 or diesel cars from before September 2015.
Drivers who switch private number plates from one drive to another can easily fall through the net, with their new car not being included in the latest round of updates.
This could result in their car being registered as non-compliant, and they therefore risk incurring a fine of £180 (£90 if paid within 14 days) if they do not pay the £12.50 fee for each day they travel through the Ulysse area.
At the time the penalty charge notices were issued, TfL had not received updated information from the DVLA, so its records showed that your number plate belonged to your previous non-compliant car.
A TfL spokesperson told me: “We are working on ways to increase the pace of updates.
“If any customer finds that this has happened to them, we would urge them to contact us as soon as possible and provide them with the appropriate documentation so we can ensure their vehicle is registered as meeting the standards.”
It also recommends drivers who switch number plates use its vehicle checker on tfl.gov.uk to see if their details are correct.
Drivers asked to prove their car’s credentials will usually need a copy of the car’s V5C register and a certificate or letter from the engine manufacturer confirming it is Ulez compatible.
Transport for London tells me that less than 0.5 per cent of the hundreds of thousands of criminal charges issued since 2019 have been challenged on the basis of number plate swapping.
Although you made a successful complaint to TfL shortly after the first penalty notice, the process had not been completed by the time you received a further penalty – a penalty that passed on to the installation company.
In entering this column, I am pleased to say that the sum of £600 has been repaid to you. A TfL spokesperson says: “We regret that the reader may have incorrectly received the Ulez penalty charge.
We have canceled the fines incurred and have contacted them to apologize for the distress this has caused.
I was charged £1000 for a sim card which I never used
About a year ago, I was rearranging my home office, and as I was pulling my desk away from the wall, an envelope fell out from behind it. It contained a mobile phone SIM card.
I remember in 2013 I considered changing my service provider to Utility Warehouse, but in the end I stayed with EE.
I looked again at my bank statements and realised, to my horror, that I had been charged more than £1,000 for a ten-year Utility Warehouse plan, even though I had never used it.
The SIM card is still in its original packaging. I’m at a dead end with Utility Warehouse.
For the past year, I’ve been hanging on the phone until it hangs up. I have also written to customer relations, with no response, to the company secretary and then all the company directors, but I am always ignored.
AS, Nantwich, Cheshire.
Sally Hamilton answers: Although it was clearly an oversight that you did not notice regular payments being taken from your bank account for a mobile phone contract you had never used, I felt that Utility Warehouse were unjustifiably negligent in ignoring your request to consider your complaint in order to whole year.
My research tells me that it’s usually not possible to activate a physical SIM card without putting it in the phone.
While modern phones support eSim technology (they have technology inside them that allows the installation of digital SIM cards that do not require a physical card), they still need to be activated by the customer.
It is also rarely used in the UK and certainly did not exist in 2013.
At my request, Utility Warehouse investigated your case, and although they did not provide an explanation of how the account operated and what they were charged for, I am pleased to say that they have now refunded you the full £1,100 taken from your account for ten years.
Double charged to stop chicken
I stopped at KFC on Knutsford North Services on the M6 when we were returning from Scotland to Devon on 2nd January.
I placed an order on the self service screens for £26.57. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that there would be a 30-minute wait time.
We were in a hurry to get home, so I and several other customers asked for a refund. The server processed two refunds for the customers before me, and then refunded me.
Once I got home, I noticed I was charged twice for an order I never received.
When I called the so-called “Care Squad” in Kentucky, they told me they couldn’t refund my money and suggested I go to the branch in person – a 500 mile round trip.
GT, Barnstaple, Devon.
Sally Hamilton answers: She mentioned that the low-pressure KFC server seemed exhausted by the large number of customers, which likely led her to mistakenly charge you again instead of refunding the money. It’s easy to do in stressful circumstances, but apparently, it’s not easy for you to solve the error.
I have asked KFC to investigate. The care team were put into the case and, I am pleased to report, quickly refunded the amount owed of £53.14.
- Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email [email protected] – include phone number, address and a note to the offending organization giving them permission to speak to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for the answers provided.
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