(Note from Shelli: Because I am an AMERICAN I have the right to Freedom of Speech and so I post this as a favor to my very dear friend, Mr. Iain Purdie. He posted this on his blog but was threatened with legal action so I volunteered to re-post it here since I am based in a country that allows me publish what I want and express my opinions freely. TAKE THAT Parking Eye!)
As previously posted by Iain 'Mosh' Purdie:
The following was originally posted on the PePiPoo forums, but I thought it would be good to move it over here partly for my own reference. I found the forum when I was curious about a “fine” I got through the mail, and their advice was – correctly – to ignore it. All the details are in the posts that follow.
I visited some friends in Bradford a couple of weeks ago and parked the car in the Forster Square retail park, which I used to use years ago. Only, according to the letter I received recently, it now has a 3-hour maximum parking time. News to me.
As soon as I opened the letter and checked it, I rang one of my mates down there who uses the car park regularly. He didn’t know about the limit and couldn’t remember ever seeing a sign. I rang another couple and they said they knew there was a limit of two hours (it’s actually now three), and they only knew about it as they’d been warned when it was initially put in place. Lots of footie fans used to use it on a match day as it’s not far from the ground – this was the basis for the warning. They did say there was a sign… but for the life of themselves couldn’t think where it was.
I did a quick Google and found two stories from the local paper. One about a woman who’d parked there, left, come back and been fined. She even got pictures from the CCTV of the other car park she went to which proved that she had left and returned. Excel (as it was – now ParkingEye) refused to accept this and said they’d pursue her. Guess what? They never did.
The other story was about the changeover from Excel to ParkingEye. This was the tail end of 2009 and when the parking time was increased from 2 to 3 hours. Apparently the old company was ticketing people who parked then walked into town, arguing the car park was only for people using the shops on the retail park. Not the case according to the planning permission documents from 1990. All of those fines were (apparently) “revisited”. I wonder how many people got refunded?
Anyway, I’ve got the usual £50 unless I pay up in a few days letter. Then it’s £80. Then it’s £110 + “liability for further charges”. The terminology on the letter is dodgy, as others have pointed out.
“We are happy to provide parking facilities for legitimate customers”. Well, as the story above tells us, this is irrelevant. You don’t have to be a customer of the stores to park there.
“…limited to the period clearly displayed at the entrance(s) of and around the car parks.” Obviously generic as there’s only one entrance. As stated above, I didn’t see a sign. A local who uses the car park several times a week hasn’t seen one. Hardly “clearly displayed”, then. Let’s be honest – if I had known there was a time limit of 3 hours, I’d not have parked there for 6 would I?
“On the specified date, you were the owner, keeper or driver of the vehicle in question, as such, there is a responsibility to ensure that the terms and conditions for parking, as set down and clearly displayed on the signage in the car park, are complied with.” Which, according to the many posts I’ve seen on here, is complete pants. I may not have been the keeper, owner, or driver. Transfer of ownership of the vehicle may have taken place shortly before the “offence”, meaning that ownership documentation had been in the post and the DVLA system not updated. This could actually very nearly have happened as I only took ownership of the vehicle from my mother a few days previous!
I notice the phone number to contact these rip-off merchants is an 0844 one. Further *kerching*. And also a “small processing charge will be made for any Debit/Credit card transactions”. Is this “small” as in “Ryanair small”, I wonder?
The thing is, I did actually buy something at one of the stores. I then wandered elsewhere, bought a similar item for less and returned to the TX Maxx for a refund. As such I do have two transactions a couple of hours apart that would support a claim of leaving the car park and returning later… but at the advice of the people on here I will not do so. I’ll just shove the letter in a corner and wait for the next one.
And the next.
Maybe the next.
Then the lovely silence afterwards when they realise I’m not being intimidated.
The second letter
Second letter has arrived. I’m not sure when it got there, as – I think I mentioned – I’m living away from home as a student right now.
The first thing that struck me as strange was that the charge should now be £80 as I didn’t respond within a few days of getting the original letter. Only it’s not. It is still £50 if I pay within 4 days of this letter. In other words, the box-out with the charges has just been copy/pasted from the first letter.
What has changed is that there is now one box with two pictures. One of my car entering and one leaving. Helpfully they’ve enlarged the numberplate on both as, frankly, it’s unreadable on either original picture.
Underneath this is more pseudo-legal bull-poop.
“As the owner, keeper or driver of the vehicle in question, the Parking Charge [love the capitals] that we wrote to you about is still outstanding. The vehicle is shown above, and is accurately timed both entering and leaving the car park in question, proving that the maximum time limit for parking within the car park has been exceeded. Please make immediate arrangements to pay the Parking Charge to avoid further increase. If payment is not received we may pursue this matter through the appropriate channels.”
Well, as I’ve already stated they have already failed to increase the charges despite saying they would on the letter.
In addition, as I have discovered from reading this board, “appropriate channels” consists of sending me more letters and trying to threaten me. This is the only “appropriate” channel as they have no legal ones which they can pursue.
Incidentally, I’m leaving the country in about 4 weeks. Wonder how they’d deal with that?
The “debt collection” letter is here from “CCSCollect.co.uk Debt Collectors”. As someone else pointed out elsewhere, by a remarkable coincidence they’re registered at the exact same address as Parking Eye Ltd. What are the chances, eh?
The PARKING CHARGE incurred at FORSTER SQUARE PHASE 2 Vehicle Registration XXXXXX has not been paid. The outstanding charge as detailed above has been passed to us by our client ParkingEye. We intend to recover the full amount owed. If full payment can be made, we urge it to be done now BY RETURN.
If you pay or agree a repayment plan with us now, further action which may include legal proceedings will cease.
ParkingEye is determined to protect the interests of its client’s genuine customers and their ability to park within the selected car park. Payment options are overleaf or alternatively call us now on 0844 412 0344 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0844 412 0344 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
ARRANGEMENTS TO PAY THE CHARGE MUST BE MADE NOW TO AVOID FURTHER ACTION.
And that was the end of it. I never heard another thing from them. Just note that if you receive something saying it’s a “parking fine” then it’s been issued by the police or council who may well take you to court for non-payment – even if the fine is not legally enforceable. Exeter Council are one who very recently have been hauled up on this.
If it’s listed as a “Parking Charge” then there is no legal ground for them to pursue you into the courts. Debt collectors can yell and scream and stomp their feet, but have no rights to any of your cash. The ones to worry about are bailiffs, but you’ll never see them as they’re sent through legal methods and as the result of court decisions.
PePiPoo’s FAQ document on Private Parking Companies is a great reference.