Dart Charge customers have slammed the implementation of its new online system, labelling it “a shambles” and the communication from National Highways about the move as “abysmal”.

The frustrations come after days of chaos due to system changes and website issues relating to payments of the Dartford Crossing journeys.

Many customers were unable to access the site over the weekend to pay their tolls due to a maintenance period followed by long queues and error messages.

One customer Jake Roostan-Pritchard faces frustrations after being unable to log in to his account due to an ongoing password reset loop.

When trying to contact customer service via phone, he faced difficulties with the automated system, including disconnections and confusion between options.

When he did manage to connect, he said the system indicated there were no funds on his account and the last payment was made in August of the previous year, despite the fact that he renewed his local residents’ account in June and updated the car details.

Jake added: “I eventually got through to someone by going through the PCN options on the phone only to get someone who sounded very grumpy and had to put me back through to the digital receptionist system so back where I started.”

He is now left in the dark as he can’t access his account, verify his car details, ensure that his account status is correct, or figure out why the expected £20 balance is missing.

Jake said: “I think is a shambles to be honest.

“I come from an IT background and any new system that's going to be implemented in a company should be fully set up and tested, all data from the system getting replaced should be migrated over and double-checked before the new system goes live.

“The communication was terrible there was not enough time from the first mention that you had this many days to pay due to the new system to then changing their mind due to all the issues.”

Dart Charge was also asking account holders, including Pay as You Go customers, to revalidate their cards to ensure their crossings are automatically paid and to avoid penalties.

People are now uncovering further issues following the maintenance including being unable to re-validate cards, account balances being wiped, journeys not being recorded, and local resident permits being removed.

John and his daughter Alison maintain identical Dartford Crossing accounts but they have had very different experiences with the system.

Alison had to revalidate her card as per new instructions, and despite revalidating her card, her account still showed the need for validation.

She made a crossing to Essex on Saturday, but the crossing didn't appear on her account, and she was advised to check back on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Alison logged in again but encountered the same validation issue and the missing crossing.

She attempted to call customer service but faced long queues and after an hour of waiting she limited assistance, leaving her without clarity on the situation.

The writer's other daughter, Helen Camden, lives in Thurrock, Essex, and holds a resident discounted account.

Her account was marked as "dormant" with no crossings and a zero balance, despite recent crossings, prompting her to send an email to customer service.

John’s account however, appeared to be in order with his balance remaining at £47.60, but he is unsure whether he needs to revalidate his card or what further steps he needs to take.

He explained that he struggles talking on the phone due to his recent laryngectomy after a battle with cancer, meaning can only speak with a prosthesis.

John told the News Shopper said: “I think their communication has been abysmal.

“I believe that if they were not capable of taking the money from customers credit balances during transition then the crossings should be free.

“It’s hardly been a seamless transition hasn’t it?”

Dart Charge has now announced an extended deadline date for re-validating cards and making payments.

Account holders now have until August 31 to update their card details on the Dart Charge website, while non-account holders who used the crossing between July 27 and August 14 have until August 15 to pay the charge.

A National Highways spokesperson said: "The Dart Charge websites and customer contact centres are all operating.

"We apologise for the service issues users have faced over the last few days and have implemented service improvements.

"While customers may still experience short delays, the average online wait time is now less than 5 minutes. 

"We have further extended payment deadlines to ensure everyone has sufficient time to pay the charge. Dart Charge account holders have until 31 August to update their card details on the website.

"Non-account holders who use the crossing between 27 July and 14 August have until the 15 August to pay the charge.

"We apologise again for the inconvenience which was due to essential system updates."