/ 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.

Comments

A success story – hot off the press – and a possible exemplar for those happy to escape from private parking firms on a technicality.

The car was parked in a hospital car park, which had coin/card payment machines that dish out tickets which must be displayed in the windscreen. For whatever reason a ticket was not seen by the enforcement patrol, who left a PCN neatly affixed to the windscreen looking to all intents and purposes identical to that in the photograph at the head of this convo. The ticket had a face value of £80, with a discount of £40 if paid within 14 days (and a threat of escalation if ignored). If this notice to driver/PCN had been acted upon in any way, the chances of an appeal being successful was very low. The driver ignored it – as did the registered keeper. Accordingly, and fully as expected, a notice to keeper followed through the post around 6 weeks later, the private car parking company having obtained the keeper’s details from DVLA.

In the specific condition of a driver having previously been notified (that’s what the thing stuck to the windscreen did) when the private company approaches the registered keeper, the registered keeper can be held responsible instead of the driver if the driver’s detail is not disclosed/identified, provided that the notice to keeper is fully complaint with Paragraph 8 of Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (“PoFA”).

The majority of notices to keeper are not compliant with Schedule 4 of PoFA – and this one was no exception, falling short in three key areas of Paragraph 8:
1) The notice failed to state that the company had previously contacted the driver (noncompliant with Clauses 2(b) and 2(e)
2) It started at £80 threatening escalation without offering the discount of £40 if paid within 14 days. It is a condition of PoFA Schedule 4 paragraph 8 that identical terms be offered to the registered keeper in the first letter as was offered in the notice to driver; the letter to keeper was therefore noncompliant with Clauses 2(c) and 2(g)
3) Although there was evidence on line, the notice to keeper in this instance never embedded or had with it enclosed the photographic evidence of the alleged breach. This lack of evidence means the notice to keeper was also noncompliant with Clause 7

On the basis of this non-compliance in several ways, the registered keeper appealed. The points included were:
* Evidence that a PCN had been served on the driver (referring to their own online images showing a before and after shot of the windscreen ticketing), and therefore stating that Paragraph 8 of PoFA applies.
* Confirming that the notice to keeper was noncompliant with Paragraph 8, citing the three examples above
* Ending with words to effect “Since the Notice to Keeper is noncompliant with the PoFA, I have no obligation to notify you of the driver at the time, and decline to do so. Should this matter be referred to POPLA, it is on the above I shall rely.”
If adopting this approach it is imperative not to infer any hint of who was driving by careful use of pronouns and passive voice.

Had the Notice to Keeper been ignored, it would have given the private company six years to hound with escalation galore and increased guilt trip pressure – and the option to go to court if they feel they have a good case; by appealing as above you cut the time down to just a month or two – and should in any case have the appeal upheld. Of course, in the unlikely event that the Notice to Keeper had been fully PoFA-compliant, the registered keeper could have paid the discounted sum of £40 within a few days of receiving the notice, bringing the matter to an end.

Excellent, Roger; and an extremely useful link.

I would not be surprised if many of the enforcement companies’ documentation is legally deficient. I wonder how long it will take before details of this case get round the parking industry and they close the loopholes – as they should, of course.

Ambiguous, or misleading, or downright incorrect documentation is in no-one’s interest and relying on technicalities to escape a fine is not an open, transparent and equally-accessible process.

“I would not be surprised if many of the enforcement companies’ documentation is legally deficient. I wonder how long it will take before details of this case get round the parking industry and they close the loopholes – as they should, of course.”

They do it deliberately, John.

They want to step up the pressure on the chancers – by removing the first discount to pay for their DVLA fee. After all, most pay from the first ticket (on the window) – and most of the rest when they get something through the post – so double bubble (by removing the discount) nets them much more money overall than offering the discount to everyone through the post and roping in the few who have the front to stand up to them. Given that they’ve decided to go non-compliant, they save themselves a few more coppers per letter by not using the toner printing off the many photographs of their evidence.

“Ambiguous, or misleading, or downright incorrect documentation is in no-one’s interest”

Regrettably it is in their interest – and of course their right to ASK for driver’s detail oer ASK for an elevated payment on non-compliant paperwork. Trouble is most don’t realise that they don’t have to hand over the information – and pursuit of the keeper if no appeal is lodged is acceptable in the law even if the paperwork is noncompliant. The logic from a ruthless businessman to go non compliant is compelling – and I’m afraid, much as one should not stereotype, my experience and from what I’ve researched, most if not all of the private parking firms are tarred with the same brush.

“relying on technicalities to escape a fine is not an open, transparent and equally-accessible process.

Three things here:
1) It is categorically not a fine. Fines can only be imposed by the judiciary. The distinction is important for many reasons.
2) The information is public domain. It is equally accessible – I accessed it and have no special powers. The deductions are straightforward – clauses exist in plain English – not gobbledegook – check they comply one by one – it is straightforward.
3) Generically, if I get a demand for money through the post, I want to be sure I am getting value for money and that it is what I signed up for. Most (though not all) people who appeal a parking penalty have paid their way, and either failed on a technicality (wrong number entered on car park machine, got way laid by a short while and were late back and no obvious means to top up the payment). Most would think that £80 for a missed £1 was a steep and unjust charge, particularly if the car park was not bursting at the seams and nobody could possibly have been deprived of anything by the overstay etc.

Interesting arguments, Roger.

I’m not disagreeing with you but assumed — because I am a law-respecting person — that the Courts and lawyers would take steps to thwart such deliberate non-compliance. Surely, the company in the case you cited will not be able to carry on issuing documents with the intention to deceive? I must admit, in my naivety, I thought it was just sloppy admin.

If nothing else the enforcement company must have fallen foul of their own trade association’s code of practice and deserve to have their access to the DVLA database revoked for misuse of data.

All the more reason why a competent consumer representative organisation should step up to the plate and act on our behalf.

You are right — it is a charge, not a fine. Both are forms of penalty but parking enforcement is a civil, not a criminal, matter, and on private land it is a parking charge, not a penalty charge [which is the local authorities’ instrument of torment on the public highway].

Unfortunately respect for the law or even the most basic principles of morality and decency have no place in the private parking “industry”.
I’ve been reading of a national supermarket chain which was granted permission for a town centre store with car park some twenty years ago. A planning condition provided that it must allow all town centre shoppers to use its car park. Presumably this was the council’s way of trying to minimise the detrimental effect the supermarket would have on local businesses.
No sooner had the store opened than notices in the car park declared it was for the use of supermarket shoppers only, and “fines” were issued to anyone caught leaving the car park to shop elsewhere. (Please excuse my use of “fines” – it’s quicker than “Parking Charge Notices”.)
I’ve only just become aware of that planning condition – because the supermarket is seeking to remove it. They’ve had twenty years of breaching planning agreements while expecting motorists to stick rigidly to their terms and conditions. No doubt the supermarket chain will get their way – they always do. It’s brazen hypocrisy. But what’s new?

Vincent – The Tesco store just outside our town centre was allowed to use what had previously been a public car park, provided that anyone could park free for three hours. When it became difficult to park at busy times, Tesco tried to reduce the time to two hours but there was strong local opposition. Eventually, enforcement was introduced and this stopped people who worked in town from parking there all day, with the result that it is now much easier to find a space, whether visiting the Tesco store or other businesses in town.

Parking enforcement has benefits but regulation of the companies in charge cannot come soon enough.

Wavechange – I couldn’t agree more. While I have little time for those who argue that all enforcement of motoring laws – speed limits, yellow lines, box junctions etc – is “only done to make money”, it is clear that the main object of private parking enforcement is making outlandish profit. There are other ways to make sure motorists don’t stay too long at a supermarket, though those methods are not as profitable.
As a member of the Cameron cabinet Eric Pickles was an outspoken opponent of (in his words) using the motorist as a “cash cow “and advocated restricting the powers of local authorities to deal with on-street offences. He was particularly opposed to the use of cameras in parking enforcement. Strange that this would have been the very government which introduced PoFA (2012) – the measure which legitimised private parking enforcement and has led to the bonanza currently being enjoyed by private parking companies.

Roger, my earlier comment to which you replied ( “I thought everyone know they were chancers”) seems to have been put out of place in the thread. It was in response to https://conversation.which.co.uk/motoring/parking-fine-penalty-charge-notice-questions/#comment-1630746. Specifically to the non-compliant notices.
My comment about Which? was to include this, along with other useful defences, in a readily-accessible document.

“Roger, my earlier comment to which you replied ( “I thought everyone know they were chancers”) seems to have been put out of place [……] My comment about Which? was to include this, along with other useful defences, in a readily-accessible document.”

I latched on to it, Malcolm. I’ve put it as a generic suggestion in the revamp discussion. It is awaiting moderation, and when visible will be Comment number 1630769 (I won’t paste it as a link as that would also prevent you from seeing this answer until probably Monday).

Hello can I ask a question please. I payed for a parking ticket in a private car park. But couldn’t input the regeneration as machine wasn’t working properly. It still issued me with a ticket for an hours stay. I was only there for 20mins then left. I recieved a letter with a £120 fine. I emailed the company with proof of parking. They have emailed back saying I must pay half of this within 14 days.is this correct? As I am not looking to pay as I still have the ticket for my time spent

Marion – From your comment I cannot quite understand what happened. It seems there is no doubt you parked in the car park but whether or not you paid the right amount for the time spent there seems to be at issue. On the face of it I think you have strong grounds for appeal.

Were you required to enter your vehicle number but the machine was not functioning properly so the ticket did not show it?

Did the number fail to come up on the screen on the machine but you continued to operate it?

What was your method of payment?

If the machine was not working correctly — and there was no notice on it to take it out of service — then the driver should not be penalised.

If you could provide more information on what went wrong for you we might be able to give you some helpful advice.

Sadly just getting in touch may have closed off the easiest way of getting this overturned. It may have effectively admitted to being the driver at the time of the alleged contravention.

If you are sure the machine was faulty and there was no way you could have entered the number (correctly or otherwise) I would definitely appeal formally. What was the precise wording (leaving out any reference numbers/addresses) of what you sent? Do you live sufficiently close to get a photo of the signage in the car park?

Only just noticed. Can I respectfully request that the heading of this article be changed to Parking penalties:… instead of …fines:.., please?

Fine by me, Roger. 🙂

Of course I meant parking charges not penalties {blush} Was a late night!

It should be parking penalties, not fines, as a title? Parking charges are what we pay to park.

Strictly speaking, there are no penalties for parking contraventions on private land because the issue of a Parking Charge Notice is a civil process for recovering the parking charge which, as Malcolm says, is what we pay to park there and it includes any supplementary charge for a contravention of the site’s regulations.

There are no charges for parking on the public highway [except for permits in controlled parking zones and payments for parking in metered spaces] but penalties are levied for contraventions by the issue of a Penalty Charge Notice which is a decriminalised process for imposing fines. The recovery of unpaid fines is a civil process.

Public car parks operated by local authorities are deemed to be parts of the public highway and are covered by statutory road traffic orders for their regulation and charges.

A fine is not necessarily a criminal penalty, it is just a form of sanction. For generations fines have been levied for overdue library books or for the return of lost property.

Crystal, now?

[I don’t know why I carry all this junk around in my head; I wish I could just delete it once and for all].

Better than fine that is most illuminating, thanks John.

Vincent, I agree about the outlandish profit from parking misdemeanours. Not just private companies but also public authorities. However, it is necessary to dissuade people from unfairly parking. A less extortionate/excessive penalty charge would seem to me appropriate.

I agree Malcolm. Local authority pay and display penalties have always been grossly excessive. It can be cheaper to abandon your car on a yellow line outside the car park entrance than to overstay in a car park. Many of these car parks have been converted from pay-on-exit to pay and display, presumably because there is greater profit to be obtained from the latter.
Illegal parking on the road may cause danger. Overstaying in a car park may cause nuisance but doesn’t threaten life and limb. As a country we’ve got our priorities wrong.

Barriered car parks seem the fairest solution where you cannot leave until you have paid for the actual time you stayed. I’m not sure how they deal with other penalties though; parking in a disabled space or outside a marked bay, for example. But they do not help when the penalty is simply for parking on private ground without permission.

I have always considered the primary purpose of public highways parking enforcement to be orderly parking and rational use of street space with due regard to the interests of road safety, local residents and other road users.

Most towns have broadly achieved these aims with a variety of measures including parking meters in business districts, controlled parking zones in residential districts with various special permits available, time-limited free parking spaces, on-street pay-&-display facilities, yellow lines at junctions and potential hazard spots, and economical patrolling by qualified enforcement officers.

Generally, local authorities seem to have followed similar approaches in their off-street car parks where pay-&-display seems to be the predominant means of paying [although multi-storey car parks usually have pay-on-exit systems]. It is likely that pay-&-display generates more income as drivers buy more time on entry than they might need in order avoid a charge for overstaying. Multi-storey car parks are generally found in town and city centres where the continuing demand and more variable durations of occupation can justify the capital cost of the infrastructure.

This reasonable, rational approach to parking control all goes badly wrong when it comes to parking on private land where a host of upstart companies with a more mercenary attitude now dominate. There are a few responsible operators that have been around for a long time but the prevailing objective is to make as much money as possible for the least possible expense. It is significant that the overwhelming majority of complaints and criticisms cropping up in these columns arise from the private land parking regime, even including at railway stations and hospitals where an element of public service ought to be an important aspect. It is highly likely that the operating companies get their contracts by claiming to be able to make more money for their clients [the landowners and retail park developers] than their competitors so, in terms of operating standards, it has become a race to the bottom.

Local authority penalty charges were originally quite high for a number of reasons: (a) as a deterrent to unauthorised parking, (b) because the manual patrols and payment processes were quite expensive operations, (c) the overall chances of getting a ticket were not very high, (d) there was a 50% discount for early payment, and (e) local authorities tended to be considerate [even sympathetic on occasions] in dealing with challenges and cancelling PCN’s for minor contraventions and misdemeanours which they thought they would lose on appeal to the adjudicator.

With new entry/exit camera technology, automatic number plate recognition, and DVLA-linked computer systems for identifying registered keepers, the economics and reliability of parking control have been transformed. Not only are the operational costs dramatically reduced with the abolition of human patrolling but the efficiency of enforcement is hugely increased, with timings recorded to the second, and every single occupation of a car park registered and an image retained. It is now a money-making machine on a vast scale generating enormous profits.

Malcolm has cited the billions being captured. Some tweaks have been made to the enforcement codes of practice to remove some of the more egregious niggles that were disproportionately giving the industry a bad name [like minor overstaying and miscoding of number plates on P-&-D machines] but that was more in the interests of public relations than service to motorists. I would certainly argue that the price of parking in most places is too high, that the penalties for contraventions are far too high in general, and I strongly support Malcolm’s ‘campaign’ for a much lower level of penalty for trivial contraventions that are not critical to the overall availability of parking provision or the rights of other car park users or residents.

Alongside this private parking regime there is evidence, as Roger, Vincent and Reginald have put forward, that the parking companies are abusing their substantial legal privileges by acting against the public interest, denying people their rights to settle parking penalties economically and reasonably, threatening aggressive means of enforcement with court and bailiff action, and employing law firms to issue officious debt recovery notices prematurely or without justification in an attempt to forestall the correct legal processes for recovering what is actually just a small civil debt.

The bailiff trade has also woken up to the lucrative opportunities that these practices offer and, rather than being merely a responsible enforcer and executor of court orders with due concern for the welfare of subjects, has aided and abetted the parking industry in pursuing parking penalties with utmost vigour knowing that where there is a parking charge there is a vehicle which can be seized for an easy conversion into cash. Thankfully, bailiffs still have to wait for a warrant to be obtained before they can execute it but that has become a semi-automatic process and there is no doubt that some of the ‘legal’ letters that are being addressed to drivers are tantamount to coercive.

An excellent summary, John. I would add that the automated enforcement/ANPR arrangement/removal of human patrols has had other disbenefits too.

1) Until and unless a reliable means to detect and validate blue badges on ANPR entry points is developed, blue badge holders will not be able to have favourable terms in such car parks

2) Violations of disabled bays, parent-and-toddler bays and generally terrible parking that blocks in others which patrols used to pick up are not captured

3) The period driving around in search of a parking spot used to be effectively the driver’s, but in this regime is the land owner’s on the ticketing time.

4) Depending on the grace period, it is possible that in busy car parks, one can be driving around for quite a while, then have to walk a while longer to the nearest working machine, and then wait in a queue behind other motorists.. violation to the stated terms even before you’ve left the car park having done all you reasonably can to comply – and indeed having (soon after) coughed up the parking fee.

Is it any wonder that people explore and exploit what has been described as evading a payment by a technicality? Incidentally, in the success story I conveyed, I did not suggest or imply that the original parking had not been paid for – although the logical steps documented would apply regardless.

Good points, Roger.

Of course, there is no obligation on the providers or operators of parking facilities on private land should make any provision for Blue Badge holders whereas local authorities usually do so in public off-street car parks.

I presume private operators take the view that Blue Badge holders have extensive rights to park on the public highway where waiting is not permitted by other vehicles [provided there is no obstruction but that tends to be interpreted favourably] so there is no necessity to give them reduced price and relaxed enforcement ‘privileges’.

The operators might also take the cynical view that Blue Badge holders are supposed to be incapable of walking more than fifty yards without serious difficulty, pain or shortness of breath so would not be using such car parks [but they might have walking or mobility aids to which they can transfer when leaving the vehicle].

I agree that without parking enforcement patrols there is no opportunity to pick up other aspects of parking behaviour but, again, I assume that the cost of human coverage would exceed the loss of revenue so they don’t bother.

“I agree that without parking enforcement patrols there is no opportunity to pick up other aspects of parking behaviour but, again, I assume that the cost of human coverage would exceed the loss of revenue so they don’t bother.”

Correct – but here’s the rub: inconsiderate parking – on hatched areas making life all-but impossible for those trapped in – or those aiming for empty spaces the other side – or those hogging blue badge bays – *should* be brought to book, but won’t be. Not for revenue but as a dissuader for the greater good. Come back patrollers all is forgiven.

Em says:
4 July 2021

… operators might also take the cynical view that Blue Badge holders are supposed to be incapable of walking more than fifty yards without serious difficulty, pain or shortness of breath …

That would be both cynical and wrong. A Blue Badge holder does not need to be physically disabled in any way. They can be issued to people who suffer from severe anxiety. Or their behaviour might be a danger to themselves or other road users; both particularly strong reasons for needing quiet, off-road parking.

A young child with a severe medial condition like epilepsy or diabetes can be issued with a Blue Badge, if it is important that they stay close to the vehicle, either for access to emergency medical supplies or to have rapid transport to hospital or home where treatment is available.

Absolutely correct, Em.

The parking industry is not noted for its general intelligence or insights into the human condition [other than the exploitative mercenary one].

In order to avoid penalties I avoid the risk by paying for more time than I need. That can be expensive if this precaution proves to be unnecessary. With card or phone payments it should be possible to register the time of return to the vehicle so that the payment can be adjusted, in the same way that the cost of an online grocery order is adjusted if items are missing.

It is always worth paying for more than you need. It saves a lot of worry. Being cautious is the right strategy, and the cost of unused extra time is far less than the penalty. I am far more concerned to address the extortionate cost of penalties than to pay for exactly the time I have used.

My only penalty was £25. I’ve payed far more than that in unused time. It matters to me.

“It is always worth paying for more than you need. It saves a lot of worry. Being cautious is the right strategy, and the cost of unused extra time is far less than the penalty. I am far more concerned to address the extortionate cost of penalties than to pay for exactly the time I have used.”
An interesting perspective. Pay on exit overcomes the overpayment issue. For patrolled pay and display, I don’t typically worry if I overstay the time by a few minutes as I have what I believe is a solid strategy for an equitable outcome (which at worst will cost me the discounted early payment option after a few weeks).

The ones that bother me are those where the mode of operation is designed to trip you up. I tend not to give my custom to such car parks and the patrons of the shops served by them – and let the shop owners know why.

Unfortunately pay on exit is often not a possibility but now that we are moving away from stuffing coins in meters to electronic payment there is the possibility of recovering part of an overpayment.

I agree about letting shops etc. know of problems, Roger. Unless someone does, the problems remain and if the attitude is that it’s not their responsibility they will lose me as a customer.

I suppose most stores on retail parks have no influence over the choice of parking enforcement operator since that is the decision of the developer, landlord or managing agent.

Nevertheless, it does no harm to inform retailers of problems and of any inconvenience, especially if that means you won’t trade with them again, as feedback can be useful and it might make the retailers more sympathetic towards their customers’ parking problems and less disobliging in future.

Most, if not all, commercial management companies have periodic dialogues with their tenants, sometimes collectively and also individually, and the more sensible ones will wish to ensure there are no impediments to a satisfactory retail experience for the stores’ users because a poor reputation quickly spreads.

“Unfortunately pay on exit is often not a possibility but now that we are moving away from stuffing coins in meters to electronic payment there is the possibility of recovering part of an overpayment.”
With EITHER ANPR on ingress/egress OR a barrier it becomes readily possible. A barrier is certainly not always possible – or appropriate. However, ANPR is these days a much more feasible proposition, taking up minimal space and with technology that is no longer essential to be installed close by (eg it can be on the side of buildings on the opposite side of the road provided planning permission is obtained).

“I suppose most stores on retail parks have no influence over the choice of parking enforcement operator since that is the decision of the developer, landlord or managing agent.”
Correct, John. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that shop managers can’t exert influence. Only about 40 miles from me pressure from retailers augmented by help from local councillors, managed to get a cowboy company ousted – the replacements are less bad and some trade has been restored. For a while parking was free and trade picked up again, but not too long after the selfish all-day brigade saved their fiver a day at the station and made it impossible for local shoppers to find a bay and retailers again lost out – proving some sort of enforcement is necessary. My suggestion – before the next private firm stepped in – was to let shopkeepers police it themselves to new terms prohibiting parking all day – the shopkeepers could have patrolled just a couple of times a day and ticketed those there both times with unrotated tyres.

For anyone interested the story is https://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/17477309.westgate-car-park-basildon-free-smart-parking-loses-control/ – and it did feature on Channel 5’s Parking Wars a couple of years ago.

Some recently released YouTube videos may for of interest.

For parking penalties on public land see:-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KSknTHw4nE

For parking charge notices from private land see:-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy3MY_j7JYw&t=918s

For appealing parking charge notices see:-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=betK9QpiRZE

Back in March I posted that a local shopping park had reduced its time limit from three hours to two and that I expected them to have a bonanza in parking charges at Christmas. Well it seems Christmas has come early for one parking predator company. My local paper reports that people visiting restaurants or the cinema on the site are permitted to stay longer provided they enter their details into a device at the premises concerned. But it seems the system doesn’t work and they are getting “fines” through the post. And intimidated by threats of escalating charges,court action and bailiffs they are paying up at £60 a pop.
Most people are not lawyers. They are terrified by visions of judges in wigs and heavies knocking at their front door so although they know they are in the right, they pay up for a quiet life. That’s how these predators are raking in the profits.
The parking “industry” has a trade association which clearly has the government in its pocket. What a pity there are no motoring organisations in this country to represent the victims of this monumental national scam.

Perhaps a consumers’ association is out there that could help…..?

I haven’t read all the comments so forgive me if this is a popular query. I parked in a private car park which was indoors – I then had to find the payment meter which was outside the building. I paid the fee entered my registration number which is printed on the ticket and put the ticket on my windscreen – as I was rushing because I was now late for a meeting – the ticket was the wrong way up. I appealed to the car parking company and they rejected my appeal saying that it was in contravention of the notice. I have still not paid it and I am now being chased by the debt collectors. My question is – What is the crime? I have paid the correct parking fee, the parking attendant took a picture of the ticket which is exactly the same shape as the one that I have. Am I now being charged £160 for the ticket being upside down on my dashboard. I am absolutely flabbergasted and can understand if I hadn’t paid the fee or overstayed but the ticket was there and it has my registration number clearly on it. Do I just pay and shut up – I just feel so strongly about it.

Jilly — If the printed face of the payment ticket was not visible then it would be deemed not to have been properly displayed, which is no doubt a condition set out in the regulations for the car park.

It could have been a ticket for a different car or a different time or a different day if the details on the ticket could not be read by the parking attendant.

To save the parking charge escalating I would recommend you pay the present demand as quickly as possible and put the episode down to experience.

I agree with John. The attendant needs to know that a valid (current) ticket has been purchased otherwise they would not know, for example, whether you parked beyond the time you had paid for.

I would suggest you email a copy of the ticket (if you still have it) to the parking company to show you had, in fact, paid. Otherwise, accept you had not observed the (sensible) requirement and put it down to experience – you fouled up! No one else is responsible.

However, what is wrong is the extortionate penalty imposed quite legally for making such a relatively trivial error, in the gamut of incorrect behaviour. What you could do is try to persuade some organisation to attack this iniquitous behaviour.

Which? have shown absolutely no interest in coming to the consumer’s aid on this issue, despite it attracting annual penalty charges several times greater than are lost to bank fraud – a topic they continually pursue. I suppose it simply doesn’t generate the same tabloid headlines.