Confusion over road user charges

By Joseph Aldridge

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Different road user charges for identical vehicles has left a Mount Maunganui man baffled.

Retired mechanic Jim Fulton owns two Mitsubishi Delica Spacegear vans. Both vans were made in 1995, have 2.8-litre engines and run on diesel.

However, when it came to road user charges the two vehicles were charged at different rates.

Earlier this month, Mr Fulton asked his wife Carol to buy 7000 kilometres of RUC's for each vehicle but when she applied at the local NZ Post Shop she was told the charge for one vehicle would be $343.80 while the second vehicle would be charged $371.80.

The charges in both cases were higher than he remembered paying last time. However, it was the difference in the charges that really confused him.

Mr Fulton rang a local Vehicle Testing New Zealand office to see if there had been some mistake at the Post Shop.

A woman confirmed the same charges as the post shop had but was unable to explain the difference.

Confused, Mr Fulton turned to the Bay of Plenty Times to see if the newspaper could get a satisfactory explanation.

If such a charging mistake was happening to him, it could be happening to others, he said.

However, other people were unlikely to notice the overcharge because not many people have two identical vehicles, he said.

The Bay of Plenty Times contacted the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to ask whether Mr Fulton's situation was a glitch in the system or an example of a systemic failure.

NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt replied that one of Mr Fulton's vehicles had been incorrectly registered as a type-two vehicle since 2002.

The incorrect classification had not affected the charges until a new charging scheme was introduced in August, Mr Knackstedt said.

"Prior to 1 August 2012, the RUC rate per 1000km was exactly the same for RUC vehicle type 1 and 2 at the weight of 2 tonne, which both Jim's vehicles are - ie no 'extra' RUC was paid due to the error by the licensing agent.

"Since 1 August 2012, a RUC type 2 would pay $52 per 1000km plus a transaction fee, while a RUC type 1 of the same weight would pay $48 per 1000km plus transaction fee."

The incorrectly registered vehicle had now been correctly recorded as a type 1 vehicle and Mr Fulton would be able to purchase RUC' at the same rate for both vehicles, Mr Knackstedt said.

The NZTA's RUC team had encountered "very few" situations similar to Mr Fulton's, he said.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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