Tourists fall foul of London congestion charge – and their car hire company

The car rental was £99 and they have now paid double that for just driving past Buckingham Palace to wave to the Queen

We were tourists in London in July and accidentally drove by Buckingham Palace and incurred a congestion charge. My husband gave the rental car agency permission to pay it with our credit card.

We received receipts from them looking like they had paid it. The following month, we received a penalty charge notice stating we needed to pay £65. I paid the US dollar equivalent – $105.10. Then they demanded the same again. Today, I received a notice that we owe $210.22 more.

This is crazy! Can you make it stop? The car rental was £99 and we now have paid double that for just driving past Buckingham Palace to wave to the Queen. CW, Westlake Village, US

It seems that what your car rental company has charged you is the administration fee for passing on your hire details to Transport for London (TfL), rather than the fine itself. According to TfL, you actually strayed into the congestion zone twice during your sightseeing tour, which is why you received two penalty notices. Then, because the payments were received after the two-week discount period had expired, you were given a charge certificate which required an extra £130.

Looking at the paperwork it’s easy to see why you were bewildered. TfL says that it will waive the outstanding sum as a goodwill gesture.

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