/ Motoring

Been punished by a parking fine? Make sure to appeal

Traffic warden writing parking ticket

The other week I had a chat with a parking attendant about how long I could stay in a privately-run supermarket car park. He politely gave me the info, watched me walk away and then put a parking fine on my windscreen!

What had I done? Crossed the road. I hadn’t seen the notice that said I could not go ‘off site’ and the parking attendant had not offered up this information to me when I checked with him.

Yes, he told me that I was allowed to park for two hours. He also told me that I had to go to the supermarket, which I did. But he didn’t bother to tell me that I couldn’t go to the other shops over the road.

Last week we reported that eight million parking fines are given out every year. Despite this huge figure, in some boroughs many motorists successfully appeal. That is exactly what I did.

I phoned up the number on the ticket straight away and was amazed to get through to a very polite lady who apologised and told me to appeal. As soon as my ticket came through, I appealed online and within a week I received a letter saying they had dropped the whole thing.

If you get caught out with a parking fine and don’t think it was fair then it’s worth appealing. Although not all private parking firms will give you the chance. And please, dear parking attendants, do your bit as well and play fair!

Zerocredit says:
7 March 2011

Sorry to hear about such blatent meaness – wonder if there are nay big notices stating that!

I recently parked on a street which I thought was free. About 30 minutes later I saw a parking attendant making out a ticket by my car, so I ran over to check. He pointed out that I was at the start of the metered parking and pointed to a sign right outside my car. Whoops!

However he said if I got a meter ticket right then he would refrain from giving me a parking ticket. He must have been in a good mood, or may be he was just a genuinely nice parking attendant. But it shows that sometimes a polite enquiry to begin with can work wonders!

Great advice to always try to appeal – will be putting this tip on our website.

[Message from moderators: Hello Zerocredit, we have removed the URL from your comment as we did not feel it was relevant. Thanks.]

Emma_Campaigner says:
7 March 2011

I had a parking fine issued outside my flat, while I had a parking permit displayed the Council claimed it was partly obscured. I challenged the Council straight away and by way of response they emailed me a photo taken by the parking attendant. True enough, it was obscured. By the rain. So I sent them the copy of the parking permit. They emailed back to say while they stood by the judgement of the parking attendant they agreed to let me off “this once”. Moral of the story? Never park a car outside in the rain…that and always appeal if you feel you are genuinely in the right!

Was the privately-run car park also enforced by a privately-run car park management company? If so, as the PePiPoo website advises, you can simply ignore their parking ticket and all their subsequent demands. Unless they are the council or the police, according to that website a private company has no legal right to give you a penalty. They can only charge compensation for loss of earnings to the supermarket caused by your parking while shopping elsewhere. The amount of this loss is likely to be zero, if there were other spaces empty at the time.

ANGIE says:
23 March 2011

My son had a parking fine for leaving his car in Asda when he went to college. he did not tell me about it and did not pay it. We eventually got a letter from a debt collector re this fine. I contacted a solicitor and was told that the fine was illegal. Don’t pay it. We didn’t and 3 yrs down the line have heard no more about it. We didn’t even ring the company or acknowledge the debt collectors either. they were just trying it on

Maureen says:
1 August 2013

Within the month of June I recieved 8 parking tickets at the same place from a CCTV camera, I am a disabled driver I park here for the convenience to get to the shops. My badge is always displayed on the dashboard, it’s just that I drive a 3 year old cmax and my dashboard is long and dips down I display it on my right hand side, by foot the warden has to go right up to the car but because of where CCTV camera even if they zoom in the cannot see it. Out of the 8 parking tickets one went to court and I lost, I don’t have the money to pay the ticket on that day I received another through the door!!! I am getting really stressed with this.

Thrifty says:
4 August 2013

There are always people who park with impunity and expect to get away with it, they shouldn’t. There are also the vast majority who are attempting to behave reasonably but are confounded by trade associations etc. like the BPA who’s code of conduct for their operators seen to be held as pseudo laws. For instance you have 28 days to appeal, that’s what the code allows. I appealed after being out of the country for 2 months and recieving a ticket on my absence for a 15 minute overstay in a free for 2 hour car park. The shop took forever to process the order for furniture it had taken me over an hour to choose. I was denied by BPA code the right to appeal. I would have won with the operator as their ticket said if I had a receipt to prove I was a genuine shopper the ticket would be canceled. I had a receipt for £1000 but they wouldn’t even look at it as 28 days had passed. It’s this sort of practise that gets the industry a bad name. I have no choice now but to pay £180 or respond to their claim in court and their claim is based on them having operated according to the BPA code. The shop is incensed but only a tennant the site owner is an investment syndicate and have basically just shipped responsibility for parking to a parking company who provided they operate within BPA code get to keep all the fines – it’s not in these companies interests to be fair. I now spend my entire time shopping reading small print on signage and I can’t understand my rights on most of them. They could operate reasonably and we’d all understand the necessary evil, however most of them are just outlawed champers who have switched to legalised extortion.

You do have a choice. Don’t pay the fine. Only councils or police are allowed to impose penalties. Private companies are not allowed to issue penalties (you’ll find the ticket says something like “charge” rather than “penalty”) and you are only liable to compensate them for any actual loss caused by your overstay – I assume that loss is probably nothing, or, at the most, a pro-rata parking charge at the normal rate for 15 minutes. Go to the pepipoo.com forums where there are people who can help you.

Maureen says:
5 August 2013

Thank you for our replies but I am a blue badge holder the ticket comes from CCTV small round black camera they zoom in but where my badge is you have to go right p to the car even traffic wardens. I come out the car if u look back it’s like it’s to showing but my dash board is Long cmax u have to go pot the car which I have no problems with traffic wardens it’s just CCTV.

I parked in a Morrisons car park to go shopping with my daughter who was in a separate car. I experienced a haemorrhage in my eye whilst in the car park so we immediately went to find the nearest optician. The optician was fully booked with patients but told me to that they could examine my eye when they were free. I was told to wait quietly as the bleed could have been an indication of a detached retina. By the time I had been examined and told I could drive I was over the time allowed at the car park by about 30 minutes. Both my daughter, for her car, and I for mine were issued with a parking notice from ParkingEye. We both appealed and my daughter’s appeal was successful but mine was not! I then appealed to POPLA who upheld the fine. I believe this is grossly unfair as I had been told not to drive until given the all clear. What should I do now? Should I pay the fine or should I wait for them to send threatening letters which I believe would finally end in the case going to the small claims court. I am seeing a consultant re my eye tomorrow, somehow between my doctor’s referral and the hospital my details were lost hence the late date of referral. I should be grateful for your advice as this is really starting to play on my mind.

Many thanks,

PS The optometrist has provided me with an email corroborating my story

Have you written to Morrisons and ask them to cancel; dropping a hint that you may be contacting the local press about being “penalised” for a medical emergency. Additionally, you may want to read up on “Frustration of Contract”.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Laura – You have saved your eye and your daughter has had her parking fine cancelled. If I were in your position I would close this unfortunate episode down as quickly as possible by paying the penalty.

By all means ask Morrisons to grant you a compassionate refund of anything you pay to Parking Eye but I doubt that will be done in a hurry. As Duncan says, you should include the optometrist’s confirmation of your treatment and inability to drive for a period.

I would suggest you do not want to go through the court claim procedure as that could add to your distress. Pursuing Morrisons or Parking Eye on a contractual dispute might be legally sound but, again, are you happy to prolong this and add to your woes with further uncertainty and possible stress?

The American law does not help in your case and I don’t think we should envy it; that could just compound your sense of grievance. For most people health services are not free at the point of delivery in the USA so the law steps in to protect citizens from unfair treatment. As evidenced in this Conversation, there are some unfair aspects to England’s rules on parking on private land and I hope in due course Which? will campaign for improvements; experiences such as yours will be useful in that respect.

There can be considerable differences between stores operated by a single company, so looking at how another branch operates may not be relevant. That may be why I could not find any terms & conditions online for car parks at stores run by Morrisons.

The company was probably operating within the law by issuing the parking charge notice and the terms & conditions may not refer to what happens if someone becomes ill or their car breaks down. Paying up may avoid stress, as John says, but for the sake of others who may be treated in the same way, maybe we have a public duty to fight against unreasonable charges.

Looking at the US website mentioned by Duncan, it is evident that some people would try and exploit leniency, for example by using pre-arranged appointment as a reason for not complying with parking rules. There is also the possibility that people will make up stories to get out of paying. That is why it is so important for Laura and others to be able to provide evidence to support her case.

I do hope that Laura will not let this drop and will report on the outcome of the case.

I consider parking penalties a sensible way to prevent, or penalise, misuse of parking provided for the general good. Our village car park has restrictions to prevent commuters using it instead of the station car park, otherwise residents would have nowhere to park off road for their shopping visits.

However, I consider parking penalties to be excessive – out of proportion to the offence and to the normal parking charges. I would like Which? to campaign for more equitable charges – £20 has been suggested, modified if a car park has particularly high normal rates perhaps – to still act as a deterrent but to prevent the sort of grievances we regularly see published.

I agree, Malcolm. I think it must fall to consumer organisations, and not to individuals for whom parking misery is stressful enough, to campaign for fairness and equity [between the landowner and the driver] in parking regulations and penalties. By outsourcing the enforcement, and with the enforcement companies using automatic systems to generate the parking charge notices, landowners like supermarkets, retail parks and shopping malls are side-stepping their relationship with their customers and making it doubly difficult for them to obtain redress for excessive enforcement. It’s no good going to the customer service desk as they will just direct you to the writing on the wall. The challenge and appeal procedures are remote and hostile. At least with on-street parking enforcement by a local authority there is usually a parking office one can visit to seek advice or raise mitigating factors and where people are treated with respect and honesty.

The process has now swung too far in favour of the landowners with extortionate charges but a massive drop in enforcement costs. The process can now ‘catch’ virtually every driver who in some way contravenes the regulations [which are not always crystal clear]; this compares with a foot-patrol enforcement rate of possibly 25%. People will not resent a sensible penalty, like £20; it will be a lesson for the future but not damaging enough to cause people like Laura to suffer from having it play on their mind as she says it now is starting to in her case. Less robust people could crack under these stresses and we’ve got enough psychological casework already in this country.

Hi @laurark – I hope your eye is OK and that you will have it checked when the eye is back to normal.

You could discuss your problem with your local branch of Citizens Advice.

I tried that! I queued for an hour then waited for an hour and then saw an assessor who just told me she couldn’t give me any advice! She gave me a list of solicitors who do half hour free consultations but non of them wanted to know!

I will try to carry on fighting the case for as you say it may help others. However, I am worried about how much fighting this could cost!

I also think what you say may be best as I am finding this very frustrating and stressful and paying the fine would put an end to it. I will ask Morrisons for a compassionate refund if I do so! Thanks for your advice.

I have written to Morrisons and hope they will help me with this. Thanks for your comments.

Good news! I contacted Morrisons and all ‘charges’ were dropped. I wish I’d talked to them earlier and saved a huge amount of worry. To all those who took the trouble to try to help, my sincere thanks. Thank you too to the manager of Morrisons who was human!

Congratulations Laura. Thanks for reporting back, which might encourage others to take action when a company behaves unreasonably in the circumstances. Even though management of parking has been delegated to ParkingEye, I would expect Morrisons to respond to concerns, not least to help keep their customers. I hope your eye is back to normal.

@ldeitz, will Which? campaign for fairer parking penalties, or do Which? think the existing penalties are reasonable?

Which? should be campaigning to rid the country of ‘Parking Eye’ type vultures and for companies to take responsibility for their own car parks. In Laura’s case above, she should have been able to go to the Manager in Morrisons to sort out her overstay there and then and any reasonable manager would have listened and saved her the added stress of the money-for-nothing vultures.

All car parks should be ‘pay-on-exit’. You never know how long a hospital appointment is going to last so how can you be expected to pay in advance? Stores can issue tokens to reduce fees if you shop in them, and prices could go up astronomically for long-stayers abusing the car park. It is not rocket science.

Car parking has become a nightmare for many with fines far out-weighing the crime and it is time something was done about it.