I incurred a £65 fine after driving a hired Volkswagen Transporter through the Rotherhithe tunnel in east London. Unbeknownst to me, the vehicle weight exceeded the maximum two-tonne limit allowed in the tunnel. Hire company Zipcar’s position was that it had no obligation to tell me the vehicle capacity prior to hire.
Trade body the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) brokered a £65 credit note for me after concluding that customers were nowhere informed of the vehicle’s weight, which is in breach of its code of conduct.
Hundreds of drivers of rented vans may also have been unfairly hit with a fine because of this, since even the puny Citroën Berlingo exceeds the weight limit. TL, London
The weight restriction was imposed on goods vehicles last February after traffic pressures threatened to damage the Victorian tunnel which runs under the Thames connecting Southwark to Limehouse.
Over the first five months of the ban nearly £5.5m in fines was collected from drivers of overweight vehicles.
The BVRLA says it expects member companies to inform customers of the rules and of the capacity of their hire vehicles, and promised to issue a reminder in the wake of your experience.
Zipcar has since added a warning to its website, and to the confirmation details sent to customers who book vans in London, but it told the Observer it would not be refunding others in your position.
“As we do not know the destination of any of our vehicles when rented, it has to be the responsibility of the member to choose the right vehicle for their journey and ensure it adheres to any local road rules or restrictions,” it says.
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