Drivers using the M6 Toll this bank holiday weekend have been warned to make sure they have a suitable payment method or face potential delays at the toll booths.
Traffic experts are predicting that this weekend could be the busiest late May holiday in four years and the M6 is among the key routes expected to be packed with traffic usual as holidaymakers head out.
While the M6 Toll is a handy way to beat jams and cut journey times, drivers planning to pay the charge with contactless payment are being urged not to rely on their smartphones after it emerged that the system cannot accept payment from Apple Pay or Google Pay.
With the phone-based contactless systems becoming increasingly popular to pay for everything from groceries to cinema tickets, they seem an obvious option for paying road tolls. However, frustrated drivers have discovered that despite accepting contactless payment the M6’s system still requires a physical bank card.
One social media user commented: “Managed to annoy lots of people on the M6 Toll. Had no idea you couldn’t use your phone to pay and then had the indignity of having to empty the contents of my boot in order to find my wallet, which was buried in the bottom of a suitcase.”
Another on the Pistonheads.com motoring forum revealed: “Heading back down the M6 Toll and see lots of signs in the services for ‘contactless payments preferred at the toll’ and ‘Quickest way’ etc… I think great, I'll chuck all my stuff in the front and just need my phone. Get to the booth and stick my phone on the reader to be told ‘Please enter your card’... Argh! Scan around and see the small notes, the tolls do not accept Apple Pay/Google Wallet payments. So I can't get out of the car, as I'm too close to the booth - hazards on, back up a bit so I can get out, pop the front, get out, grab my wallet, jump back in, faff for card, pull forward, swipe and done. Luckily it was quiet but what a PITA!”
Graham Conway, managing director at Select Car Leasing, says: “Lots of us have now transitioned to the point where we use our phones to pay for everything and our wallets rarely see the light of day. So the fact that you can’t pay for the M6 Toll with your phone will be a shock to many motorists, particularly bank holiday day trippers who don’t often use that particular motorway.
“If your wallet is located somewhere you can’t reach it when you reach the toll booth - or worse still, back at home in a drawer - you could end up making bank holiday congestion a whole lot worse while irritating drivers waiting behind. It could get very embarrassing.”
The M6 Toll’s website FAQ section does make it clear that it doesn’t accept payment via Apple or Google Pay but says it hopes to add the service in the future.
Conway added: “It might be that the authorities don’t want scores of people reaching for their phones on a busy motorway, as the gadgets can clearly be a distraction when driving. But there is an exception, which says you can use such a device if ‘you’re making a contactless payment in a vehicle that is not moving."