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Several British tourists traveling to Portugal are being asked to pay over £100 for alleged violations on the country’s toll roads. These notifications are being sent to drivers who rented cars more than a year ago.
After factoring in the debt collection fees, the initial tolls for one case observed by The Independent rose by 11 times.
The majority of the reported violations occurred on the A22 highway, which runs alongside the Algarve coastline.
Tolls are collected on this highway, which runs parallel to the A28 along Portugal’s northern coast, through the use of number-plate recognition. Typically, individuals who rent cars will make arrangements with the rental company to cover these fees and have them included in their overall bill.
However, there have been reports that the system did not function properly, causing UK drivers to be surprised by unpaid tolls that were not correctly charged.
Vialivre, the company in charge of toll collection, cautions that failure to pay toll fees and associated administrative fees within the designated time frame may result in an administrative offense.
The company has hired a debt collection agency based in London, called Euro Parking Collection (EPC), to reach out to drivers.
A letter received by The Independent states: “This Penalty Charge Notice has been issued to you as the registered owner/renter of the identified vehicle at the time of the violation.”
The violation happened because the vehicle used the lane designated for electronic toll collection without having a valid tag or subscription.
Due to the initial toll fee not being paid by the designated deadline, this Penalty Charge Notice has been issued to the registered owner, along with additional fees.
The notification includes a picture of the vehicle along with a receipt that is over ten times the initial cost of the tolls.
According to a sample reviewed by The Independent, the fees amount to £11.84 using an unspecified conversion rate between euros and pounds. These charges will be enforced for trips taken in June 2022.
The original toll cost is increased by 280% due to a Portuguese administration fee of £32.08. In addition, EPC charges £88.88, resulting in a final bill of £132.80 which is over 11 times the original cost.
According to Sharon Cleator, a long-time tourism worker in the Algarve, it seems that no effort has been made to collect the unpaid tolls.
The AA’s website states that they have received reports of drivers who have ignored fines after being contacted by the enforcing authority, only to later be contacted by an agency and charged a much higher penalty.
If you think you may have committed the offense, it is advisable to pay the fine. Ignoring it will not only lead to an increase in the fine, but it may also cause travel complications if you attempt to revisit the same country.
The Independent approached EPC several times for a response for publication, but was told it could take up to eight weeks.