Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Paid your congestion charge? Like 3,000 receipts?

Graeme Ellis opens some of the 3,000 receipts TfL sent him for his congestion charge

Graeme Ellis is a blind-fitter who sometimes has to drive through the congestion zone in central London. He’s been fined three times for days on which he’s forgotten to pay.

So he pulled his socks on and started to pay the £8 online – requesting a receipt as proof of payment.

  • First time, he got 25 identical receipts through his letterbox – each in their own brown A5 envelope.

  • Next time he paid online, it rose to 500.

  • But no comparison to the last time he paid online and received 3,000 receipts – dropped off by a big Royal Mail lorry at his doorstep!

Guess what, a computer error is to blame. And perhaps a missing user story that fell down the back of a filing cabinet stating:

As a Congestion charge operator
I want to automatically send no more than 5 receipts a day to the same name/address
So that
I have a chance to manually intercept repeat payment mistakes (or system errors) and don’t bombard people with unnecessary mail.

You can catch a two minute news bulletin clip about the story for a few more days.

In a statement, Transport for London explained:

“This is clearly an unacceptable error. Our service provider, Capita, have identified the fault and put in additional controls to ensure it does not happen in future.”

Mr Ellis is considering paying at a petrol station from now on! Though his children are enjoying the lifetime’s supply of drawing paper. And his rabbits are enjoying the shreddings as bedding.

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