Have you been stung by 'cowboy' parking fines?

28 July 2014

Bitterwallet - appeal parking tickets You might have seen the signs in supermarket car parks, or outside McDonalds. Or maybe you didn't, and you were unexpectedly hit with an entirely random charge for overstaying.

Well, so called ‘cowboy’ private parking firms are springing up everywhere – employed by high street companies to limit the time you can loiter in the car park eating a Filet-O-Fish and stinking up the place.

Charges of up to £100 are being doled out to unsuspecting shoppers who return to their cars a few minutes late. If you ignore the charges, you’ll probably get a scary letter from a bailiff ordering you to pay up.

But these companies are what’s known in Consumer Land as WELL DODGY, and they have no legal standing. They can’t come in and take your possessions, or take you to court - in fact, they have no legal powers whatsoever. They’re just at it.

Companies like McDonalds use the shady MET Parking Services, which has links to an ‘unfit’ debt collection agency and a solicitors firm which has been shut down. And critics say that high street companies are tarnishing their reputation by being involved with these private parking crooks.

Marc Gander of the Consumer Action Group said: "Private parking companies are part of a bounty hunting fad which has risen up over the past few years and is making an industry of penalising people without good reason or for their simple human mistakes."

"Big brands like McDonald’s don’t seem to appreciate how this new industry operates or the sense of anger and injustice that it produces in its victims and who are also their own customers."

Have you ever been stung with a £100 parking fine? If so, did you pay it?

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice   Restaurants   Motoring   Debt

3 comments

  • Alexis
    A few extra points: • The tickets (actually invoices) are issued for some alleged breach of contract. They must reflect a genuine reflection of loss to the company for the breach. E.g. if you are over time by 5 minutes, and they charge £1 an hour, their loss would amount to 5p. That is assuming they have a valid contract with the landowner (plenty don't), and assuming any 'loss' is only due to the landowner not his parasitic parking company (which often applies). • Ignoring was old advice. Most companies still do nothing but send threatograms and debt collection letters (NOT bailiffs Lucy - they are completely different!), but look at Parking Eye. They were recently bought by Capita and make THOUSANDS of court claims every year now. They have the budget to throw hundreds of thousands at claims now (even though they lose a very large number). They don't mind spending £25 on a court claim now because they know it will scare most into paying and not defending. They are actually using the courts as a letter writing service now - why give £50 to a solicitor to write a letter when MoneyClaim is £25 and much more effective. This is a whole subject on its own. • So the advice now is to appeal to POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals) (after 'appealing' to the parking company and getting the inevitable rejection). This is free for the motorist but costs the parking company £27. • Always use the magic words 'THE CHARGE DOES NOT AMOUNT TO A GENUINE PRE-ESTIMATE OF LOSS' with your POPLA appeal. • Or simply use http://www.parkingticketappeals.org.uk They charge £16 to take care of everything and will cover the ticket even if they lose at POPLA. Finally, this isn't a new scam - it's been going on ever since the DVLA started selling keeper data to anybody who has £2.50. The DVLA trousers millions out of the whole con.
  • Jessie J.
    Thanks for the info Alexis, also tell them to "Fuck off".
  • Slacker
    "Have you ever been stung with a £100 parking fine? If so, did you pay it?" Yes, and no respectively. As well as these private parking invoices, I have successfully ignored local authority parking tickets too.

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