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Evening all.

I have a question about the London congestion charge.

Basically, my understanding of it was that if you drove into the charging zone your numberplate would be recorded and you'd get sent a bill.

Turns out I was only half right! My wife and I went to London for the night last week, and to get where we were going we had to drive through central London - Which we did, twice; once on the way there and once on the way back.

So today, through our door has dropped not just a bill, but a penalty notice for £65 if paid within 2 weeks, £135 if not (and that's just for the journey there - No doubt we'll get another one tomorrow for the journey back). Apparently we're supposed to have registered and paid before the journey.

My question is: How is this enforceable? I live in the South West of England, so I've never seen any kind of advertising or public information about the congestion charge, and the signs don't tell you anything except that you're entering the congestion charging zone - They don't tell you what they entails at all. Surely the signs need to follow the same rules as for parking penalties and actually tell you what you need to pay and what your penalty will be if you don't?
The Congestion Charge is Transport for Londons sweet little honey pot. Extreme revenue gathering and the roads are still congested.

So saying that, they are extremely protective of this and it has so far proven notoriously difficult to get any discretion from TFL on the CCharge. Whilst I appreciate (and sympathise) on your situation being from out of town, I dare say that it may have been a touch naive to think they would just send you a bill for your use that day.

You are most welcome to post up the PCN for folks to take a look over. I would recommend it.

The good news is, I am sure you will only get 1 PCN, as driving in the zone once is the same as driving in it all day.

Edit: Did you mean you stayed overnight? if so then yes you may get 2 PCNs. Yikes.

My advice would be to pay the PCN at the discount rate, learn a lesson, and throw darts at a photo of Boris Johnson. But wait for a second opinion from another poster.
PCNs for the London CCZ are very difficult to counter, and ignorance of the system is no excuse at all in law. So as ScottA says, take this as a learning opportunity and pay the discounted amount. The Congestion Charge can be paid in advance or up to 24 hours later, but you get a discount if you pay in advance. Once 2 days have elapsed they issue PCNs.
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