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To ask for help and advice with a Parking Charge Notice?

(24 Posts)
ParkingAye Tue 26-May-15 22:04:03

There is a health centre near me were midwives are based, I don't otherwise go there. They have a car park which is free, I've parked there in my previous two pregnancies, but not for about 18 months since.

Last week I had my first antenatal visit there for a new pregnancy. It was chucking it down and I had a little one. Driving in there were no new notices/ signs. I parked as usual, glancing up at a sign at the end of the row: 'Free parking for patients and visitors', then dashed in. The sign looked like many in local supermarkets, e.g. 1 hour free parking etc. No signs on entrance or indoors, just the roughly A3/ A4 size ones on the perimeter of the carpark, which I didn't walk close enough to see the bit under the bold text.

The new car park rules however are it's only free if you find a machine and key in your registration. I've never seen this anywhere before, if I'd gone closer to a sign and read the smaller print I would have seen this (no idea where the terminal was itself). Signs were smallish. Maybe if it hadn't been raining/ a familiar carpark I would have though to walk over to read a sign, but in a rush and a bit late I honestly didn't think! I've never had a parking ticket or fine of any kind in my life as I really do try to be careful. It just wouldn't occur to me that a carpark where you cannot buy a ticket/ pay for parking would have a terminal to locate.

A week on there's a photo of my car driving in and out (16 minutes) and a £100 fine! I can easily prove I was there and why with my notes... do I have a chance?

FourEyesGood Tue 26-May-15 22:08:06

Look at the latest advice on Martyn Lewis' money saving expert website. I used it to challenge a parking notice a couple of years ago (successfully) but I think the advice now has changed slightly, so I wouldn't want to just advise you to do what I did.
£100 is absurd, especially considering it's a free car park!
You finally have a chance - don't fork out.

FourEyesGood Tue 26-May-15 22:08:42

* definitely, not finally. Stupid phone.

Topseyt Tue 26-May-15 22:17:34

Well, I would be tempted to try challenging it, purely on the grounds that I have never heard of such a system either and it sounds highly questionable.

I have to admit though that I am no expert at all on the laws and by-laws governing car parking, so don't take that as gospel.

nothernexposure Tue 26-May-15 22:19:11

Definitely! As pp said check out Martin Lewis's site or go to www.pepipoo, they're great at advice on this. I'm on a bit of a mission to stop people getting ripped off by private parking firms. The phrase you want is "no genuine pre estimate of loss" eg if it's a free car park how can they justify a £100 charge. Definitely don't pay.

londonrach Tue 26-May-15 22:23:06

Our local train station car parks like this putting number plate in for 20 mins free parking and you have to display ticket. Very silly. However worth challenging it! Good luck op.

ChucksAhoy Tue 26-May-15 22:26:14

Pay it, then challenge it. If you don't pay within the given period they increase the charges

caroldecker Tue 26-May-15 22:29:31

Be careful, as a similar case has just lost in the appeals court - here

FourEyesGood Tue 26-May-15 22:30:51

Nooo, don't pay it! You'll never get it back if you do that!
And you won't lose an appeal, I'm certain. The only ones that don't get overturned easily are council parking notices. Private companies rely on people being too apathetic to challenge. And you're not too apathetic, because you've bothered to post on MN about it!

SavoyCabbage Tue 26-May-15 22:30:55

There is a sort of similar carry on at a shop near me where it's free but you have to go to the pay and display machine, print out a ticket and display it in the windscreen. There are signs everywhere though. Including on the shop door.

It seems really unfair that they have changed the system but have not done more to make sure people know about it. Especially as the nature of their business is that people are going there regularly, then not at all for a few years and then going again.

Also a hundred pounds is astronomical for a fine. I hope you don't have to pay it.

Belshels Tue 26-May-15 22:30:57

I paid £16 for this service and never heard any more. Worth it in my opinion as I get so stressed by it all!

minsmum Tue 26-May-15 22:33:46

Look at the Martin Lewis website. Depending on what sort of company it is you can challenge it in different ways. I had a 100.00 pound fine from a local hospital copied out a letter from the website sent it to them and the charge was withdrawn

FourEyesGood Tue 26-May-15 22:36:21

Don't ignore the letters about the parking notice (as the man in caroldecker's link did) - challenge them via the parking ombudsman. The charge is excessive, and you didn't overstay if you were only there for 16 mins.

Lariflete Tue 26-May-15 22:40:45

Just out of interest, we may be about to receive a parking fine from Lidl (we overstayed by almost 2 hours) because we lost track of time. We plan on paying when / if we receive it because it was completely our fault. However, would it still be able to be challenged given that it was in a free car park with a time limit imposed?
If, the information would make a difference, it was quiet when we started shopping there, quiet when we left the car park and quiet when we returned.
Not actually going to challenge it but very curious about the legalities!

Tryharder Tue 26-May-15 23:05:03

I have successfully challenged 2 parking tickets now.

The first was similar to yours - it was free to park in most bits of the area apart from one section - the sign was at knee height and hidden by flowers. I accused the company of 'sharp practice'

The second, I parked illicitly in a private car park for about 20 mins. I got a £100 fine. I argued that I should pay something as I was in the wrong but that the £100 did not represent a genuine loss of revenue to the parking company. I said that it would only cost such and such to park for 20 mins at Manchester Airport (for example) and offered to pay a lesser, more proportionate charge.

They cancelled the charges both times.

ZenNudist Tue 26-May-15 23:12:36

Yep you need the very long and very specific advice on money saving expert.

Do not pay. No no no.

I have previously ignored them and they just go away. That is if it's a private parking notice and not a council fine ( never got one of those ).

They would have to show that there is a prominently displayed notice. Also the fine has to be proportionate to what they lost so if it's £5 an hour and you are an house late they can't charge you £60.

I think firstly you have to write to them stating your intention to challenge the notice and asking for a particular ombudsman reference. MSE have boilerplate you can copy into a letter.

It's not worth it to them to pursue you in court. You might hear scare stories but if you follow mse advice you will be fine.

SeenSheen Tue 26-May-15 23:13:49

If it is as you say a Parking Charge Notice then I presume that this is a from a private company and is ultimately just an invoice. A real parking fine would be a penalty charge notice. This company is using similar wording to make you believe it is a legitimate fine.

Do not pay it. Much of the online advice re. these says you should simply ignore it and all of the follow up letters which get progressively more expensive. If the company want to pursue it then this is a civil matter and they must do so in the small claims courts. I believe it is very unlikely that they would do so.

If you don't ignore it then inform them you will not be paying it and why. Do not ask to be let off, simply point out the lack of adequate signage enticing the public to park there and do not be fobbed off.
Good Luck

WetAugust Tue 26-May-15 23:15:27

I have just successfully fought a similar PCN. Mine was for parking in a 'free' council car park but failing to obtain a 'free' ticket from the ticket machine - so many similarities

I wrote pages of appeal listing every point if law I could think of these included: insufficient signage at the entrance, inadequate signage in area in which I parked, confusing signage, no consideration made therefore no contract existed for the parking, excessive fine as the council were not being deprived of any revenue as the car park was 'free'. The wording on the PCN that stated I had failed 'to pay' when, as it was free there was nothing to pay etc etc

I don't know which of the many arguments swung it in my favour. Check the status of the car park. Council issued fines are harder to get out of than those issued in private car parks. I lodged my appeal without paying the fine. So my advice would be to throw as many legal arguments against them, in writing, as possible

YsabellStoHelit Tue 26-May-15 23:17:18

Appeal it.

caroldecker Wed 27-May-15 00:01:04

The courts have currently held that the charges are not excessive. In my link above, the defendant was charged £80 for overstaying in a free car park and lost the case. This is now case law and must be followed by lower courts.
By all means challenge inadequate signage etc, but the law has been clarified and excessive charges are no longer legally an issue.

Icimoi Wed 27-May-15 08:57:21

I agree with caroldecker, don't try the argument that it's an excessive charge. The point of the rule is obviously that they don't want people who are not genuine patients and visitors using the parking spaces, which is a perfectly reasonable and sensible stance to take - you as a patient would be very hacked off if you could never park there because it was constantly full of people parking for hours whilst visiting the shops or whatever. It is very clear, following the Court of Appeal case, that that argument would not be upheld.

I would say your best first step is to appeal to their goodwill, on the basis that you have evidence that you were genuinely a patient. If they won't cancel it, appeal on the basis of inadequate signage. If you see a sign saying a car park is free for patients, of course you're not going to walk back to read the small print.

MakeItRain Wed 27-May-15 09:12:26

You should have grounds for appeal due to the fact they themselves have given you evidence that you were only there 16 minutes. Return a copy of that, a copy of your appt letter (with details you don't want them to have blanked out). Also take a photo of the sign from where you parked stating that from what you can see it clearly states it is free for you.

The difference between your case and others quoted here is that you didn't actually park there longer than you should have done. You have all the proof they need that you were parked legally and had no need to pay.

I would just send all the above with a polite covering letter saying you hope this is sufficient proof that you did not incur any charges... and see what happens.

maddy68 Wed 27-May-15 11:51:39

Just ignore it. It will go away

Icimoi Wed 27-May-15 12:25:28

Ignoring it is increasingly daft advice. Parking control companies are aware that people try that tactic and are pursuing debts through the courts more and more.

I never quite understand why people are so entitled about parking. OP's case is clearly a good one and I would hope the notice would be withdrawn. But suppose the thread had been about someone who chose to go in there and stay for two hours whilst they went off to visit their mates up the road, meaning that ill or disabled patients who needed a parking space couldn't get one? Would we all be saying that's fine, ignore it, they're charging too much anyway?

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