A Liverpool University professor was left “surprised and disappointed” after he was told his Merseyflow account needed to be topped up or it would be closed because he hadn’t travelled during the pandemic.

Prof Andy Morse received an email from Merseyflow, which operates the Mersey Gateway Bridge between Widnes and Runcorn, on October 14 saying his account would be closed because he had not crossed the bridge or topped up the account for 12 months.

The email said: “To avoid this from happening, please make a payment to your account and benefit from continued use of the Merseyflow scheme.”

In response, Prof Morse complained, telling the company: “You may have noticed there is a global pandemic on at the moment and most people are not travelling or commuting to work … this has been the case since March.”

He also put another £10 into his account to prevent it being closed and avoid paying an admin fee when he reopened the account, but said this was “unfair” as the account was already in credit.

Following his complaint, Merseyflow apologised for the tone of the email, saying it should have asked him to contact them to discuss what option he would have preferred.

The company also offered him a refund of the £10 as it was “not a requirement” to reopen the account due to Prof Morse already being in credit.

Prof Morse said: “For customer service, I would give them zero out of ten.

“I’m sure they’re perfectly within their rights to do it, but it’s not how I would treat a customer.

“It’s not as if I’m getting completely irate about it, but it would be nice not to get emails like that.”

A spokesperson for Merseyflow said: “When registered customers haven’t used their account for a year we contact them as a matter of course and encourage them to either refresh their account or contact us if they want to do anything else like close it and get a refund on the remaining balance.  “We do this because we don’t want to hold on to our customers’ personal data when we no longer need it.

“It doesn’t happen very often, but we are constantly looking at and reviewing processes like this during the ongoing pandemic to ensure they remain appropriate. We’ve contacted Mr. Morse directly to make sure he is aware of his options.”