Newest Review: ... applying online then you can only make your initial payment by credit or debit card, if you apply by post you can pay by cheque or dire... more
Dooyoo need a Dart-tag?
Member Name: hayley_dl
Advantages: saves money, easy to use, easy to top up
Disadvantages: none for me
Between the hours of 10PM and 6AM it's free and it's always free for a motorbike but otherwise it's £1.50 for a car, £2.00 for 2 axle goods and £3.70 for multi axle goods. This is the charge just to go one way so if you're doing a return journey the charges are doubled. You can see how this can add up if you do the journey regularly.
The dart tag is a device for those of you who live locally, are exempt from the charge (more on this later) or those who simply do the journey regularly. With one of these devices the prices go down to £1.00, £1.75 and £3.20 respectively so assuming most of you drive cars that's a saving of £1 per return journey - this soon adds up. (prices correct as of May 2011)
Applying For And Receiving Your Dart-Tag
For this part of the review please assume you are applying for a normal dart-tag, not any of the schemes listed above, these will be covered later in the review.
You can either apply for a dart-tag online or by post, although the forms to apply by post need to be downloaded from the internet and printed out so you may as well just apply online!
Their website www.dart-tag.co.uk has links on the right hand side to open a dart-tag account. They claim that you could save up to £20 a month, I guess that's based on travelling through the tunnel once each way per week day. Anyway, there is a link to open an account online, download an application form and download a direct debit form (if needed). They give the address to return printed out forms and the direct debit mandate to and there is an e-mail address in case you need extra help.
I chose to apply online and this was problem free, it simply involves giving a few details such as name, address, telephone number and email address. They also take payment details as when you request a tag they take £10 off you - this isn't a charge as the tag itself is free but instead this is added onto the tag as credit for you to use at the tolls. The whole process including processing my payment took no more then around 5 minutes.
If applying online then you can only make your initial payment by credit or debit card, if you apply by post you can pay by cheque or direct debit. If you choose to pay by direct debit your tag will only be sent out once they have received the payment. However you choose to apply they ask you to tell them what your "low balance" warning should be. The minimum this can be set to is £2.
I first requested my tag online after business hours on Wednesday, I received the email to tell me that my request to open an account had been accepted and £10 had been taken off my card immediately after submitting the form and I received the tag itself in letterbox friendly packaging in the post on Friday.
Attaching And Using The Tag
Attaching the tag itself is easy, a holder with a sticky area is provided. The sticky part has been stuck to my windscreen for around 5 months now and has not shown any signs of coming loose. Those of you worried about theft of the tag may want to just leave the holder off and hold the tag up to your windscreen as you approach the tolls as I'm not sure the holder will re-stick if taken off. (Please note however that due to my wariness of this I haven't tested it and therefore can't say for certain that it won't stick.)
Once in the holder the tag will remain there quite firmly and won't slip out or come loose. As you drive up to the tolls a signal is transmitted between the tag and the toll, the tag will beep letting you know that it's been accepted and the barrier will open. If you have reached your low credit balance then a visual sign will be shown on the display just by the toll booth, no audible or other warning will be given. The credit is taken off your tag automatically.
You can use any toll booth although the self-service ones are usually quicker. Your tag will not expire provided you use it at least once a year. If you don't use your tag for 12 months then your account will expire.
Statements, Checking Your Account And Topping Up
On the home page - link given above, there is a log in option on the top left hand side of the page. For this you need your account number and password. You will get your account number when you receive your dart-tag and you set your password when you first sign up.
Once logged in you can manage and edit your account, this allows you to view your statements (you can also get paper statements if you select this option at sign up), check how much credit is left on the tag and top up with credit or debit card. You can continue to top up by cheque but these need to be posted in to the head office - the address of which is given on the website. If you know how much you will use the tag each month or want to top up regularly to ensure you always have credit on your tag you can also fill in the direct debit form and send this off to them - they will then take a certain amount from your account each month and credit this to your tag for you to use.
When you top up by credit/debit card or direct debit the amount goes straight onto your tag, when you top up by cheque the amount goes onto your tag after the cheque has cleared.
Local Resident Scheme
If you live within the Dartford or Thurrock council borders you qualify for the local resident scheme. This scheme has an annual fee of £10 a year and this entitles you to 50 free journeys a year and every trip after this will cost just 20p each way.
50 journeys without this scheme will cost £50 on a normal tag account so you can see how this scheme pays for itself with just that.
To sign up to this scheme you need to provide proof of car ownership and two proof of addresses (list of accepted documents on the website).
When a year is almost up they send you a renewal letter, if you wish to reapply for the scheme you need to send your proof of address and £10 fee again (but no proof of car ownership if you're using the same car), if you choose not to renew with the local resident scheme you are allowed to keep using the tag but it will convert to a normal tag account after the year is up.
Each tag given out in this scheme can only be used in the nominated car - however, you can have multiple tags per house provided you can prove that the tag is for the sole use of residents in the house.
(Information about this scheme taken from dart-tag website)
Exempt Vehicle Registration Scheme
If your vehicle is: exempt from paying the Vehicle Excise Tax on the grounds of disability then you may be exempt from paying the toll.
To apply for this you need to print off the application form and return this with pages 1 and 2 of your V5 to the address given on the website. Once registered your car will remain on this scheme for two years or until you choose to cancel this. A reminder letter will be sent when two years is almost up which will allow you to reregister if you need to.
The only difference with this scheme is that you need to use the staffed booths rather then the self-service ones.
(Information about this scheme taken from dart-tag website)
I have not had any problems with my tag and therefore never needed to call their customer services. However an email and landline number is provided on the site should you ever need to.
When I first ordered my tag I forgot to put my surname for the delivery details and they called me to query this, the lady I spoke to was very polite, friendly and helpful so if this is anything to go by it's a good start to their customer service!
It's a tricky one to recommend. It's worth it's weight in gold to me as I go through the tunnel at least monthly so in a year will save me at least £12.
A bit of maths...
Four return journeys without the tag will cost £12 in a car. With the tag you can get six journeys for that £12. Therefore if you are likely to travel across the crossing regularly at least once a year then the tag will save you a lot of money in the long run and since the tag itself is completely free of charge then I have no hesitation in recommending it but it really depends on how much you are going to use it.
If you qualify for either of the schemes described above then it's a no-brainer. For the amount of money registration could save you and given that the tag proves to be no problem at all then I highly recommend them.
Summary: worth its weight in gold for me but depends how much you use the crossing
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