/ Motoring

Parking fines: your questions answered

Have you ever had a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) that you felt was unfair? Do you know how to challenge or appeal it? We’ve rounded up and answered your questions.

Every month, thousands turn to Google to find answers on how to challenge or appeal a Parking Charge Notice (issued by a private company) or a Penalty Charge Notice (issued by a local authority).

But regardless of which type of fine they get, many come to Which? Conversation to air their frustrations or to seek advice.

And what’s more, we know the majority of council-issued PCN appeals are actually successful.

Which? Consumer Rights: Parking tickets

More than 8.6 million PCNs were issued in England (excluding London) and Wales for parking, bus lane contraventions and the Dartford Crossing charge in 2016/2017, according to the most recent stats from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

And while a miniscule 0.43% were appealed, 57% of those were successful.

That means you may want to challenge any PCN you get which you think was wrongly issued or is unfair.

Your PCN queries answered

More than three years ago we published Barry Beavis’s account of why he decided to fight a £85 PCN in court.

Mr Beavis’s gripe was with a charge issued for parking on private land at a retail park. He argued the £85 fine was not a genuine reflection on the company’s loss by his overstaying.

He may have lost in the County Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, but the post attracted more than 1100 comments from people applauding Mr Beavis’s efforts and seeking advice for their own PCN woes.

Here are some of the common complaints and reasons why you might appeal.

If you’re in Scotland or Northern Ireland, the rules are a little different so you’ll need to look up your local rules for appealing.

‘I paid for parking but accidentally put in the wrong registration number’

This is unfortunate and a very frustrating situation, but could have good grounds for an appeal if you can prove you paid (with your bank card statement) and a picture of your car’s actual registration.

When you pay for parking on private land, the contract is with you and the private parking company or landowner. So if you can prove you have not breached the contract on your end, your appeal may well be successful.

You can use our parking appeals tool to write a bespoke letter for free to help get you started.

But remember, challenging the ticket doesn’t extend the 14 day limit for paying a reduced charge – unless the operator agrees to extend the period, which they’re not required to do.

‘The car is mine, but I wasn’t driving it’

In cases where you receive a Parking Charge Notice from a landowner or private parking company, you can appeal the notice on the grounds that you weren’t responsible for the car when it was parked.

You can contact the company which has issued the fine and give them the full name and address of the person who was responsible for the car at the time.

Be sure to keep any emails, letters or make notes of the conversation if you opt to call. The company must cancel the parking ticket against you and send it to the other person. This is known as ‘transfer of liability’.

But if the person was a friend, family member or loved one you can opt to pay the fine instead of appealing and follow it up with them yourself.

You can also appeal a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice if the car was stolen at the time the PCN was issued.

‘I bought a car and got sent a PCN for the previous owner’

In this scenario, you’re not responsible for the parking ticket and can appeal on the basis that at the time the PCN was issued, you were not the owner of the car.

Make sure you include any details you have about the previous owner, a copy of the registration certificate and evidence of when you bought the car.

‘I got a Parking Eye fine – can I challenge it?’

As with any parking ticket, you can challenge it – but whether you’re successful will depend on whether it was justified and fair (ie you actually broke the terms and conditions of the carpark).

We understand most of the successful appeals against Parking Eye are because you were a legitimate user of the land.

Before appealing, contact the business you were using and show them evidence you were a customer.

Often they will then write to Parking Eye themselves or give you a letter you can use to appeal your ticket.

For example, if you were a genuine shopper and only overstayed a short time, you may want to provide evidence of purchases (such as receipts and bank statements) and the letter from the business you were using.

Or if you were at a hotel for a conference which over-ran, you could provide evidence of your invitation and confirmation from the host that the event ran on longer than expected.

Another avenue is inadequate signage – go back to the carpark and look for signs about time limits. Are they clear? Are they visible?

Make sure you always follow the appeals procedure set out by the private company or the council. You can find this on their website or in the correspondence they’ve sent you.

Have you had any successful PCN appeals you can share? How did you do it? Or what about any unsuccessful ones? Why did you lose? Tell us below.

Cheryl Noakes says:
7 June 2019

I was required by my new employers to attend a three day training course held at a hotel. On the first day I parked and entered my car registration details into the left hand terminal in the hotel lobby, the following day that terminal had an ‘Out of Order’ sign on it so I used the right terminal for the remaining two days. I received a £100 fine for the first day. Reception said they were aware of the problem with the terminal but I would have to contact parking eye. They rejected my appeal and I then appealed to Poplar who also upheld the fine saying I needed to provided proof that I not only entered my registration but entered it correctly, since these terminals do not provide receipts how can I do so. Citizens advice have suggested I make a claim to through HM Courts and Tribunals service MCOL, has anyone any experience of this?

Steve h says:
7 June 2019

Yes. Complain to the hotel. You were on their land & their customer. Tell them that you and your company spend lots of money with them

This worked for me

Nykki Mehta says:
10 June 2019

I had a ticket from Smart Parking after overstaying. Unbeknownst to me, I was clocked by a camera driving in to the car park without receiving a ticket or even passing a barrier. I had bought my ticket 3 flights of stairs down and ‘apparently’ it took me 7 minutes to buy my ticket. My ticket then gave me the hour I had paid for but I had not included the 7 minutes and the few extra minutes getting back to my car and physically leaving the car park, therefore a parking charge was issued. I have appealed and it was rejected. I then took it to Poplar, who also refused whilst not even acknowledging 6 of my reasoning’s. I have now been sent a bill for £170 from a debt collector. Any advice would be welcome.

I guess technically you have breached the contract by parking for longer than you paid for. If Smart Parking re not prepared to offer goodwill I see little more you can do. The ticket would presumably show the time you had to leave the car park.

Maybe the lesson is to ensure you pay for enough time to cover eventualities. Shopping at our local M&S food store means parking in a council car park. 50p for half an hour, 70p for an hour. It can be tempting to save 20p, but having to rush the shopping – time flies when you’re enjoying yourself – and not being able to go to the newsagent and the chemist that you’d forgotten makes it quite not worthwhile.

An easy mistake to make at a parking meter is to press the vehicle reg buttons too slowly and too firmly. I did this recently and failed to check the window before inserting the coins, resulting in the first digit being printed twice.

Based on the experience of other Convo contributors I decided it was probably cheaper to pay an extra £1.60 for another ticket than risk a hefty fine for what was really quite a simple error. The machine rewarded me with another ticket which this time strangely shot out at great speed and landed on the ground, much to the amusement of the queue of people which had now gathered behind me, at my surprised “It’s viscous” response.

Did it know I had been forewarned?……I will never know 🙂

A couple of weeks ago, we went to a local car park paid £1 for an hour but it didn’t dispense a ticket. Not wanting to get caught out, the safest thing to do was buy another ticket from another machine.

Informed the council who said we had to go to the council offices for a refund – about 10 miles away, so we didn’t bother.

Used to the same machine a week later and the darned thing did the same again. No sign to warn you, so people either paid twice or risked a fine.

I always keep a supply of post-it notes in my handbag alfa which come in useful at times like these. I would have felt an uncontrollable urge to stick one on the faulty machine with a rude message to the council.

How about a reference to YouTube.com – The proclaimers – I would walk 10 miles instead of 500!

Good idea Beryl.

Jane says:
11 June 2019

Awaiting outcome of an appealed APCOA car park penalty ticket – for not parking within designated bay markings in railways station car park. Wondering how long I should wait to find out the outcome of my appeal?
Annoyingly, the 2 tyres in question were actually parked on most of the white lines referred to, ie not completely over and so only slightly encroaching the next bay…and this was only because the car already parked up on my passenger side was well over in his bay – and he couldn’t have entered his driver side door if I’d parked any closer to him (I drive a big 4×4)…it was like domino effect parking, all shuffled along the row!
Also there was a big car parked directly in front of me lengthways in another bay, which had made it very difficult to manoeuvre and park up anyway…but there was certainly still space for a smaller (than my) car to park in the bay on my other/driver side…

Rina says:
12 June 2019

I received a pcn for parking on a private land ie: a pub/restaurant, where i was actually inside as a customer. I had not bought the parking ticket as phone was flat and the machine only accepts payment by calling the no. Can I appeal with the proof of my purchase in the pub as i was genuinely a customer there?

Michael says:
12 June 2019

Received a letter today from NCP with a £100 fine for parking exactly 1 month ago! Fortunately I used the parking app and so I have the evidence of a ticket purchase, and will challenge it. But two points spring to mind – surely it’s unreasonable one month later to issue a penalty fine? How many people retain their parking sticker for one month? I recommend always using an app for this situation. Also after reading a few reviews on Google maps I see that this is common practice at this particular car park (Siddals Road Car Park, Derby) – as most people won’t have the evidence a month later, they are probably on an easy win.

Andy says:
13 June 2019

Anyone dealing with Saba the new spanish parking operator who has taken over Indigo Parking?

Carl says:
13 June 2019

Uk car park management limited issued me a notice to pay letter in May 2018 that was from Feb 2018 ??

How ever to get rid of the stress I paid Gladstones solicitors £190 12th April 19

On the 4th June I received a letter of notice for a further £160.00 fro the same solicitors because of Charge from 15th May 2018
Issued to me 4th June 2019

Is that right or allowed ??

It is time this extortionate practice was challenged properly and sensible penalty limits for parking transgressions put into legislation. But what organisation will do it? Once upon a time we might have expected the motorists’ organisations – then the AA and RAC – to do this but now they don’t seem to represent motorists in the same way. So does that just leave Which?

martyn pay says:
14 June 2019

Can a parking ticket be enforceable if the amount that they are charging you isn’t stated on the ticket. I received a parking ticket from parking in a car park which I thought was run by the local council and displayed my permit in the window. I returned to find a parking ticket from Britannia however the amount to pay is not listed, I took the advice found on many of the websites and did not pay, now they require a £85 payment !