We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

Cambria, CA
Level Contributor
15 posts
43 reviews
Save Topic
London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

London's successful idea to charge a fee to drive in Central London caught us unawares last month.

We had arranged to pick up out rental car from Europcar's Euston Station location. We were aware of the Congestion Zone charges, but assumed that Euston Station would be within the Zone, and therefore the car we would be driving would have already paid.

And we all know what happens when you assume anything!!

Europcar's agent did not mention the Congestion Zone when we picked up the car, and frankly it had slipped below our mental radar by then. We then dove about 200 yards to our hotel in Bloomsbury to collect our luggage before heading out of town to my family in the Cotswolds.

Image our surprise after our return home to receive a letter from Europcar saying that they had kindly paid our Congestion Zone fine of UK 60 pounds together with an administration fee of UK 20 pounds.At first indignant we checked out :

tfl.gov.uk/tfl/…

and found that yes, Euston Station is just outside the Zone, but the other side of Euston road is clearly inside the zone. We therefore owed for that expensive tiny trip into Bloomsbury.

Anyone planning to rent a car in England and visit London should CHECK THAT SITE!! It's easy enough to avoid the Zone if you're visiting London for the day...just park outside the Zone and take a bus or Underground into the city center. Or time your visit for a weekend when there is no fee to drive within the Zone.

London, of course, is amazing!! Not so long ago it seemed somewhat shabby and dirty. Not now! It's a pleasure to revisit my old home town in 2010.

Reply

Forward

Edited: 05 August 2010, 21:58
Stanley, Falkland...
Level Contributor
32,923 posts
75 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

I think if you search every post about hiring or driving cars in the UK. They will all say - DON'T DRIVE IN LONDON.

Sorry to hear about the fine. It could have been worse if the company hadn't have paid the fine. It would have escalated....

London, United...
Level Contributor
11,395 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

What a well worded warning!

I can see you took great care to phrase it very tactfully. How annoying for you that the car rental place didn't warn you - quite poor on their part, I think.

Hitchin, United...
Level Contributor
8,331 posts
43 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

Also sorry to hear about your misfortune.

"assumed that Euston Station would be within the Zone, and therefore the car we would be driving would have already paid."

As you rightly say, everyone knows that one can never assume. You could have just asked the office staff for clarification. In any case, rental cars within the zone aren't "pre paid"... a car only incurs the "C" charge once it is *driven* in the C zone... why would a car hire firm pre pay all of their cars? Most probably won't get driven that day. Anyway....

You would have crossed over red "C" zone markings on the road as you crossed into Bloomsbury, as well as clear signs and usually some camera gantries to boot. I can sympathise that a weary and unwary visitor could be caught out however.

You live and learn. As PS says, it's never a good idea to drive in central London these days. One way systems, the congestion charge, parking nightmares and general gridlock all conspire against you at one point or another. I always say park outside and come in by train or tube, or even a coach.

Again, my sympathies, what a shame it was avoidable.

Watford
Destination Expert
for London
Level Contributor
41,461 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

Thank you for posting such a calm and measured response to something that must have been truly annoying. We get so many rants about this sort of thing blaming everyone from the Mayor to the man who put the Congestion Charge sign up (but never the actual poster themselves) that it was almost a pleasure to read your post :-)

Sorry it happened and I hope you let Europcar know that they should be more on the ball regarding information about the charge.

Level Contributor
3,399 posts
85 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

Heck, something goes wrong for someone and they manage a clear sensible mature comment on here. I applaud you for resisting the numpty complaining juice of so many, and not blaming it on Boris/TFL/The Wombles/The Pope/Anyone but themselves. I think its a sensible lesson, well written.

London
Destination Expert
for Lake District
Level Contributor
1,730 posts
142 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

Sorry to hear about your experience, and quite shocked that a car rental company that close to the zone boundary didn't warn you about the congestion charge.

The congestion charge is, in principle, a great idea, but there are many traps for the unwary. You have clearly been caught by one of them.

Another is that entrances to the zone are not always clearly marked. Mostly they are, but as I found out to my cost once, there are other places where you can enter the zone without driving over one of the big red C signs painted onto the road.

The best advice is to avoid driving anywhere near central London, and failing that, to check your journey against the map of the zone.

Toronto
Level Contributor
585 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

Thank you for the warning - while we are staying in Croydon as we will have a car - this is still useful in case we forget and DH wants to drive somewhere into London (although I highly doubt it).

London, United...
Destination Expert
for London
Level Contributor
3,837 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

I recently picked up a rental car from Avis at Waterloo on a Friday afternoon. This office is in the congestion charging zone and they paid the congestion charge for that day but I had booked this in advance so they already knew which car they would be giving me. I'm not sure what would have happened if I had just turned up. I would of course have to pay for any other days that I drove in the congestion charge zone but as these days were weekends I didn't have to pay any extra.

I suppose as the Europcar office is just outside the congestion zone, they didn't feel there was a need to advise the drivers or pay the charge as they wouldn't know which direction the customer would be driving. However, it would be good customer service if they advised their customers that if they go south of the Euston Rd, they would need to pay. It only takes a second or two and you have one satisified customer.

Cambria, CA
Level Contributor
15 posts
43 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

Thank you all for your kind comments. You Londoners are obviously well aware of the many ways this charge can creep up and bite you! As I noted in my original post the Zone has made London seem saner, cleaner and generally less of a hastle to visitors like us.

Don't know what happened to the link for information in that post, so I'll try again. It is:

tfl.gov.uk/tfl/…

I also forgot to mention that charges are only made during business hours (7:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday) so if you have to drive into London plan your trip around those times.

Cheers,

Edited: 06 August 2010, 16:58
10. Re: London Congestion Zone..WARNING for Car Renters (and others)

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 03 February 2011, 06:18