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Do we have a leg to stand on re this car park fine?

(15 Posts)
Hassled Fri 23-Oct-09 09:17:50

Last Saturday we parked in a free car park in a retail park place, and went to the nearby cinema (saw Up - it's brilliant). There is a multi-story slightly closer to the cinema which we could have used but I wanted something from one of the shops. Neither DH, I or the DCs spotted any sort of sign indicating there was a time limit at the retail car park.

Anyway, we've been sent a demand for £60, with time-stamped photos of the car entering the car park and leaving 3 hours 13 minutes later. The limit is apparently 3 hours and apparently this is made clear in signs around the car park. But these signs must be tiny - we actually had a conversation about whether we'd be OK parking there, so it wasn't like we were oblivious to possible problems.

If we appeal, do we have a cat's chance in hell? Is there some sort of rule re acceptable size of signage? The fine has come from the private company that runs the car park. And £60 seems like a lot to pay for 13 minutes of parking. Thanks.

thrifty Fri 23-Oct-09 09:56:37

It wasn't just 13 mins though, was it? I think it would have been different if you'd spent the whole time in the retail park, shopping, eating, whatever and have the receipts to prove it. However. I doubt you'll have a successful appeal if you parked there for free and then went somewhere else. I'd just pay up and put t down to experience.

Hassled Fri 23-Oct-09 10:26:07

Thanks for replying - I suspect you're right and we're just going to have to pay. It just feels like they're taking the piss - fair enough to have a time limit, etc., but they need to make it very clear.

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Fri 23-Oct-09 10:29:48

If the signs are unreasonably small and hidden, you could have a decent case to challenge the fine, but it's probably going to be easier and ultimately cheaper just to pay up.

Mcdreamy Fri 23-Oct-09 10:31:55

Could you go back and find the signs or is it too far out of your way? You might have a case if the signs are tiny - worth a try!

PuppyMonkey Fri 23-Oct-09 10:32:56

Go back to car park and take photos of size and position of signs maybe? If signage isn't adequate, that's a reason not to pay.

bamboobutton Fri 23-Oct-09 10:37:25

if its a private car park they can't enforce any fines, they would have to take you to small claims.

did loads of research for this for my sister a year or so ago, i will see if i can find the same info

thrifty Fri 23-Oct-09 10:39:37

I know it seems unfair. How much would 3hours in the multi story have cost you?
I think 3 hours free parking is reasonable. Our tesco has a limit of 3 hours. Where we live our retail park has a 2 hour limit but you still have to take a ticket, even though its free. There are boards all over saying not to park there and go elsewhere. But people do, myself included, but always back in time for the ticket to expire.
If you challenge it and lose. It will cost you more.

bamboobutton Fri 23-Oct-09 10:40:26

found this from money saving expert.

saintmaybe Fri 23-Oct-09 10:43:29

Why does it cost more if you challenge it and lose?

bamboobutton Fri 23-Oct-09 10:45:38

also found this from conumer action group.

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Fri 23-Oct-09 10:46:56

This happened to us. I suffered severely from hypermesis, and we used a toys r us carpark to go swimming nearby, as always, we stopped off on the way out to buy DD a little something from toys r us, and on the way back from swimming I threw up, considerably, and this delayed us as we had to go into toys r us, use their toilets (eeeew) to get myself sorted. We were 2hrs 12 mins, and when we appealed, saying we could prove that a) we bought something from toys r us and b)i suffered from sickness related to pregnancy.

They told us to get stuffed, pretty much. So we rightly or wrongly ignored it,after formally disputing it, and also wrote to toys r us advising them we would not be using them again. They (the carpark company) sent it to a debt collectors, we told them too that we disputed the debts and have heard nothing else for a couple of months, but eff them. Money grabbing bastards. They want £75 for 12 mins. And it is 12 mins, as the first 2 hours are FREE.

Hassled Fri 23-Oct-09 11:07:05

Thank you all - and especially for those links, bamboobutton. I think we'll appeal it. We're going to go back over the weekend and confirm the signage thing - I'm just praying there isn't some giant flashing sign that we all managed to miss. But even if there are, £60 is still disproportionate. I'm getting crosser the more I think about it.

cassell Fri 23-Oct-09 11:44:29

Have a look at this - all private car park operators should comply with the BPA code of conduct re what should be on signs etc so this should give you an idea of what you are looking out for.

Basically they have no statutory right to fine you (as the council do) and therefore they have to demonstrate that you entered into a contract (by parking there you accepted the terms i.e. more than 3hrs = payment of £60) - the signs have to be pretty clear in order for them to prove this.

Most private parking companies will however ignore this and give you loads of hassle, send increasingly threatening letters, potentially debt collection agencies etc. They usually stop short of court action (because that forces them to incur costs) but there is no guarantee.

If you do appeal then it would prob be best to point out the lack of appropriate signs (if that is in fact the case), that you were not aware of the 3 hr limit and therefore did not agree to it, also mention that if they continue to pursue it you will defend it (to try and put them off).

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Fri 23-Oct-09 11:50:36

Also, debt collectors are not allowed to actually collect any money from you anyway. Unless you choose to give them anything. They turn up, you say bugger off and they have to leave. The only people that can legally take money/items from you are court appointed bailiffs.

And it would not affect your credit rating to refuse to pay, unless they took you to court and a ccj was awarded against you (which of course you would not allow to happen) as it will not be recorded on your credit file - it is not a credit agreement.

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