/ 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.


Parking penalties on private land is reported here https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/07/parking-tickets-became-big-business/

8.1 million penalty charges issued and apparently 60% enforced and paid. At an average charge of, say, £60 that is an annual revenue of £300 million. Most from trivial offences, mistakes, or those bullied into paying rather than contesting.

There should be disincentives for motorists to misuse and abuse parking provided privately. It costs the owners money to provide. However, using penalties to boost profits rather than to regulate parking is wrong, in my book. And an “up to £100” penalty is wholly disproportionate.

Which? still appear to have no interest in challenging such unfair penalties. I have posted many times since the Barry Beavis case on this. It seems bizarre that when hundreds of millions of pounds are extracted from motorists in extortionate charges that many feel unable to contest, there is no campaign to challenge the practice.

Oh, and no complaint in the article about the size of such unfair excessive penalties.

The game changed completely when automatic number plate recognition systems [coupled with camera enforcement of car park entries and exits] were introduced by the parking site operators. This did away with the on-site patrols and the issue of tickets on the basis of personal observation and detailed evidence which probably had a ‘capture’ rate of 25% or less of ‘violations’. The automatic system ensures that not a single contravention, no matter how trivial, escapes enforcement. Since then, running a car park on private land has become a licence to print money.

Without the need for expensive patrols there is no longer any justification for the extortionate parking charges that are imposed routinely and indiscriminately in respect of 100% of potential cases. many of which do not get challenged so produce an income without the expense of defending the enforcement. The fact that around 40% of parking appeals to POPLA are either allowed or not contested by the operators is an indictment of the unreliability of the system. What the Article does not tell us [unless I have misread the data] is how many first challenges against parking tickets are accepted by the operators with the result that the charges are cancelled and no appeal is necessary. It is possibly not such as high a percentage as is the case with local authority enforcement where the public body is more likely to exercise discretion in the driver’s favour on compassionate grounds or in respect of a trivial contravention [as well as allowing a sensible grace period for overstaying a time restriction].

Like Malcolm, I cannot understand why Which? has shown little, if any, concern over the apparent injustice, unfair enforcement, and excessive penalties levied against consumers who, often unwittingly, get caught by the private land parking regime.

I wonder how many of the penalties could have been avoided if motorists had complied with the rules. In many other Conversations there are many posts about the need to take responsibility for your actions, for example in avoiding scams. That has not been advocated very often in this Convo.

There have been many posts about parking companies not behaving responsibly, for example failing to provide clear signage. The number of successful appeals suggests that they might be harassing motorists and perhaps the worst offenders should be warned that they must improve or lose whatever licence they hold to control parking.

Wavechange – I think in many cases where there have been no mitigating circumstances – such as absent or defective signs, unclear markings, disputes between the enforcement operator and the owner of the parking site, faulty pay machines, or patently unreasonable enforcement – we have consistently taken the line that drivers are responsible for complying with the regulations for each car park and must, with reluctance, accept the consequences [even though we agree that the financial penalties are disproportionate]. There has been little tolerance of people who have flagrantly disobeyed the rules and are hoping for an easy let-off; sometimes, such pleadings have been left unanswered for the truth often offends.

The first street parking meters I saw had flags labelled ‘Excess charge’ and ‘Penalty’, presumably allowing for different charges depending on how long the motorist had overstayed. I wonder if this sort of graded penalty system might be worthwhile implementing, John.

My preferred option would be to let people off for the first minor infringement of the rules, on the basis that we all occasionally make a mistake. That would be easy to implement for ANPR-controlled parking.

I would be in favour of graduated parking penalties according to the seriousness of the contravention and its impact on the authorised users of the space.

These could be according to days of the week [or even peak/off-peak], degree of overstay, amount of blocking of an adjacent parking space, a minor error in entering the VRM on a P&D machine, or a combination. It shouldn’t be too complex, however, as that would introduce other anomalies.

It would still be necessary for drivers to challenge a parking charge in certain circumstances [like when a car is driven into a car park and exits within five minutes having dropped off or picked up a passenger, non-display of a P&D ticket but evidence is produced of correct payment having been made at the commencement of the stay, shopping at shops on the site for which parking is provided on production of till receipts showing the date and time, parking by an authorised user in a bay other than their allocated one due to its unauthorised occupation, &c], and in situations where there is a dispute about the visibility and correctness of the signs and lines.

Overall the objective should be not to over-penalise drivers when there is little likelihood of other vehicles being prevented from parking [the Beavis judgment] although I believe the general purpose of parking enforcement being to ensure safe and orderly parking arrangements and to encourage turnover of parking spaces in areas of high demand should prevail.

My main concern is that charges for parking on private land are just too high. There are legitimate grounds for having high deterrent penalty charges for many parking contraventions on the public highway where they could impair public safety, impede public transport and emergency services, or add to congestion. I feel that, before discounts for early payment, £25 is enough for minor infringements and £50 should be the maximum for serious contraventions. Incremental escalation could be applied in the case of non-payment.

The question of a let-off for a first contravention is problematic because it needs to apply to the driver, not the vehicle. I can think of many situations where it could work unfairly if the vehicle was the trigger for the penalty. If the charges are set at a sensible level and the policy on degree of contravention is reasonable, patently fair and properly described, then I don’t see the need for any further concessions.

I cannot see any justification for a penalty to be issued “if a car is driven into a car park and exits within five minutes having dropped off or picked up a passenger”. That would be very petty. A driver needs to have the opportunity to read the terms & conditions and charges before deciding whether to stay, and to check that they have the appropriate means of paying, which differs between parks.

I would be interested to know how being let-off for a first contravention in parks monitored by ANPR might not work in any significant number of cases, since ANPR is already employed as part of the system used to issue fines and there is the possibility of making an appeal.

There are other examples of tolerance of human error. Average speed cameras are used to penalise those who are intent on speeding rather, than those who make an accidental mistake.

The example of a vehicle entering and then leaving a car park in quick succession and attracting a parking charge was taken from an actual incident I dealt with on Which? Conversation within the last year. I agree it is unacceptable but feel it illustrates the attitude of the commercial companies that run the car parks as cash cows.

In the case of the concession for a first contravention there would be a problem when the car was sold and the new owner could be unfairly denied the concession. Also, people using other vehicles could dodge parking charges by repeatedly committing ‘first contraventions’. It would be awkward in the case of hire cars. Speeding is a highway offence and the police have statutory powers to obtain the identity of the driver. Parking on private land is a civil matter and there are no such powers available to the owner or operator of the site; all they can obtain is the registered keeper details. I believe it is only the police that have the power to use the full extent of the ANPR system and get an automatic identity check of the owner; authorised parking operators can, when in possession of the vehicle number and description, apply to the DVLA for keeper details for which a fee is payable.

In dealing with parking issues I think there needs to remain a clear distinction between the way in which enforcement and penalty charging is handled in respect of the public highway and how parking charges are dealt with on private land. I don’t trust all the private companies who have figured in these Conversations to exercise any discretion in a fair and consistent way and give the driver the benefit of any doubt.

It would be interesting to know how many people are charged if they have stayed in a car park for a matter of minutes. I have done this numerous times when in towns that I am not familiar with and have never received a penalty. It would be an unfair contract term in my view and something that should be tackled.

Thanks for explaining possible problems of letting drivers off with a first infringement. I had thought of the problem with hire cars, but these cause problems anyway. Even if disregarding the first offence was limited to a particular car park or those operated by the same company in a town, I believe that there is benefit to exercising a little tolerance – applied in a consistent way.

Mary Mabbutt says:
16 July 2020

We parked our car , bought a ticket but failed to notice there was a patch to stick it to the windscreen.
It was a windy day and we put it on the dashboard but it blew down out of sight which we did not notice at the time.
We were therefore not displaying the ticket.
We were served with a parking fine notice.
We appealed, apologising for our mistake including a photo of the ticket, a photo of the bank account payment and confirmed that the driver was the registered keeper of the vehicle.
Amtrac have not accepted our appeal and want us to pay the fine.
Should we pay? It seems very unfair to penalise us for this oversight and when we have provided clear evidence that we did indeed pay to park.
Can you advise us on our next course of action?
Thank you very much

Mary – Experience of these cases suggests that you will not succeed in getting the parking charge cancelled. Failure to display a pay-&-display ticket is regarded as an absolute contravention and mitigating circumstances are not given any consideration. It is a very bad and unfair situation, and, given that you have produced full evidence of payment, the penalty you face is extortionate.

I think your next course of action should be to pay the charge as soon as possible to avoid it escalating and write it down to experience.

It is a lesson for next time; some P&D machines or the tickets they issue have instructions on how to display the ticket. It is also well worth checking before walking away from the car that the ticket remains in a place where it can easily be read.

Mary, one of many examples of the iniquity of the parking penalty extortion racket. It exists to make money on any flimsy grounds, not to ensure parking is properly and fairly used by the motorist.

Private and public car parks do need to apply penalties to avoid their facilities being deliberately abused and misused. The standard penalty is far too much given the triviality of the offence and the unfair appeals process seems to have no consistent rationale.

In your case a parking attendant would assume you had not paid and rightly issued a penalty notice. You appear to have clearly demonstrated that you did pay. A small penalty should be due to cover admin costs.

The private parking industry makes at least £3-400 million a year from this malpractice, mostly from trivial offences and from bullying people into coughing up as the easy option to avoid threats of court proceedings and possible damage to you creditworthiness.

We should campaign to get a fair penalty, say £20 maximum, with a fair and transparent appeals process. The industry should be properly regulated.

Which? have not shown any interest in pursuing this iniquitous situation.

How difficult is it to check that the ticket is displayed before leaving the car? It would help if it was a requirement for tickets to have a self-adhesive strip to allow them to be attached to the window. I intend to deprive the parking companies an income and so far it is working.

Mary’s did have a sticky patch.
Many parking contraventions are, in principle, easy to avoid. Check the time to ensure you don’t overstay or buy more time than you think you will need, read the car park regulations, park in the designated bay………..
Making simple mistakes should not result in the extortionate penalties we are bullied into paying. For many people it is the cost of a week’s shopping.

I think they mostly do have an adhesive strip revealed by peeling off the backing, at least in our area they do.

Where pay-&-display machines also require the driver to enter the vehicle registration mark it should be possible to interrogate the machine memory and prove that a payment was made in which case only a token charge should be levied for non-display.

Most do but some don’t have an adhesive strip but it’s time that this was made a requirement. There should also be the opportunity to re-enter a registration number – the system often used when setting up a password for online transactions. Those who have dyslexia and other conditions may have problems with checking that characters are in the correct order.

james l says:
15 October 2020

Hi Mary
I was in the same situation as you – paid for a ticket using a bank card, put it on the dashboard, it got blown over so that the warden couldn’t see the expiry date, PCN issued. Despite my evidence (photo of ticket and bank statement showing date and time of purchase) Armtrac rejected the appeal saying that their signs say they do not accept ‘retrospective evidence’. I appealed to the IAS and they rejected the appeal too. The IAS ignored my evidence and stated that the ticket should have been positioned so that the details were visible. Their response included this: ‘In all Appeals the Adjudicator is bound by the relevant law applicable at the time and is only able to consider legal challenges and not factual mistakes nor extenuating or mitigating circumstances’. In my view, the fact that they refuse to take into account factual mistakes or extenuating or mitigating circumstances makes a mockery of the whole appeals process and makes me question just how independent the ‘Independent Appeals Service’ actually is. I’m now wondering if a Court would take a more balanced view and actually consider my evidence properly.

The government seems concerned at reduced footfall in town centres. No doubt these companies and their disgusting threatening letters are contributing to this. Traffic police have to go through a thorough vetting process, checking criminal records etc. I wonder whether these companies’ staff have to do the same.
I suggest a boycott of institutions and locales using these car parks.

Fred robinson says:
18 July 2020

Interesting topic I recently sent details of a parking fine raised for overstaying in a Nuffield health centre wheremanagement confirmed no offence had been committed And they would pursue the matter on our behalf .needless to say this failed to materialise and we are being pursued by Parking Eye for an increased sum in respect of the alleged parking fine. Like other contributors I have had no response whatsoever from which magazine Whilst I considerinformation on what is actually happening to innocent members of the parking public should be part of their remit To keep us all in the picture and hopefully make some inroads into challenging the whole concept of outrageous parking charges .In the same veina blatant scam in August 19 left me seriously out of pocket in connection with hiring a car in Spain. Which magazine had recently run a feature on this very subject and I naïvely thought they would champion my cause for redressagainst the companyor at the very least make some use of the detailed information I sent ?again sadly it was Ignored.I have been an enthusiastic supporting member of Which for many years and frequently recommend the magazine to friends and new acquaintances .I regret I am now becoming somewhat disillusioned and wonder if the service has any future given you can get better support online from numerous Sources for free.Disappointed member name supplied

Dennis Beale says:
19 July 2020

All this rhetoric does not change the fact that this system is weighted in favour of those issuing the fines. When I have contested parking fines where there has been a genuine reason (3 times in 4 years) the company does not even reply when they see there is a genuine reason. So how is one supposed to know they must pay the fine in the time scale? This is fundamentally wrong. It is making us guilty until proven innocent; not life as it should be. And Which is not doing a fat lot to rectify this. To be honest I am not happy with the lack of action of Which on this and several other points. It no longer provides ground breaking action, just generic answers I can find anywhere.

FoolishFemale says:
28 July 2020

What happens when the POPLA Decision Maker bases their decision on misread(ergo incorrect) information, when this decision is FINAL?

Caroline says:
29 July 2020

I’d love some advice – I paid for a parking ticket to park for an hour and came back to a parking ticket – then realised I had put in a wrong location reference. I did not try to avoid paying, just made a genuine mistake. My appeal letter was rejecting, stating that it is my duty to check I had input the right information. Given that I paid for parking that car registration for the time I was given a ticket – albeit with the wrong parking code – do I have grounds to appeal the rejection?

Probably not as you appear to have contravened the parking rules. I do not know what penalty is being extracted from you Caroline, but it is likely to be extortionate for a relatively trivial offence. No one seems prepared to address this racket that makes £1.5bn a year for public and private car park operators.

Chris Gavin says:
3 August 2020

Hi I have just received a pcn notice from Ipserv asking for a payment of 100 pounds or 60 pounds if paid in 14 days for a parking charge on 4th April 4 months ago which I have contested as I paid on the day a full days charge 3.50 I was picking my daughter up from University and the car park was below her accomodation I had driven 250 miles and was in desperate need to use the toilet I had called my daughter and used hers then paid for the ticket as I was going to be a few hours I paid the full day to cover my arrival time I was only there 2hrs 37min and they acknowledged my payment but say that as it was not within the grace period I still have to pay the pcn notice I have explained and they have refused and I have had to take it to a third party they also said they have up to 6 months to process the charge worried and unsure what I can do as this is so unfair thanks Chris

It sounds like their systems have an error. Have you sent in a proof of payment such as bank statement?

It seems as though the parking was not paid for as soon as Chris arrived, for understandable reasons, and that contravened their regulations concerning the grace period. It could be checked whether that was properly displayed. A goodwill gesture would be appropriate given the full day’s parking was paid for, and hopefully Chris may have proof.

This, though, is why parking penalties arouse so much anger. Chris is being charged £60 because she initially made a mistake involving £3.50, something she clearly intended paying and did. It is extortionate. We should be campaigning for proportionate penalties, and I would suggest £20 normally for a clear breach of regulations but perhaps £10 when there has been a breach that was unintended, particularly one like this that was corrected and with no intent to avoid payment.

Derek B says:
5 August 2020

Love some advice. Paid for parking (receipted) beforehand from 8.00am to 6.00pm in July. Just received a letter saying that I had entered the car park 2 mins and 40 secs before 8.00am. No photo of clock and no verification from them. other than a photo of the car.
Can I refuse payment?

Sim K says:
9 August 2020

Hiya, i paid for parking however when entering the reg, despite me putting in the correct reg of the car it autocorrected to my old car’s reg as i had used the app before. I have proof that i paid, but it is under the other registration. Can i appeal?

Sim – You can appeal if you are within the time limit – check the information given on the parking ticket.

D. Lutier says:
14 August 2020

Hi, I was issued with a parking fine on a London street. There were no road markings indicationg any parking restriction on the road or on the side of the kerb or pavement. after returning to my car and seeing the fine on my windscreen I noticed that a sign had been put recently on a lampost, further along, to indicate a resident parking restriction on this portion of the street. I did park in the same spot a few weeks ago , before the small sign was added, and with the absence of any road marking at all I feel I should didpute this parking fine. Am I right?

D. Lutier – By all means exercise your right to challenge the parking ticket and the local authority might cancel it if the restrictions were new and unfamiliar to drivers.

In many urban areas entire neighbourhoods are covered by controlled parking zones for which there are just signs at the entry points and then small plates parallel with the road showing the specific restrictions. These zones do not normally have any road markings except to designate special parking bays for certain categories.

D. Lutier says:
14 August 2020

So councils aren’t obliged to use road marking to locate the parking restrictions?

80 signs relating to parking! Not including taxis and road markings. Maybe, as John says, you were in a Controlled Parking Zone with signs 49 and 50 indicating the entry.

In a CPZ where resident or other authorised permits are required, small signplates are installed at intervals to state the time of the restriction [e.g. Permit holders only Mon – Sat 08.30 am – 6.30 pm]. Outside those times parking is free and unrestricted.

In some streets in a CPZ there might be a limited provision of free bays with small signplates allowing parking for a specific period and no return for a further period. There would normally be white lines on the road surface [perpendicular to the kerb] to indicate the start and end points of the free bay.

In a controlled zone, during its operating times as stated on the entry signs, all parking without the requisite permit is prohibited except where it is specifically allowed.

Some controlled zones are contiguous with an adjacent CPZ but the operating hours and days could be different so it is essential to check the entry signs.

Where I live in Norwich the whole city, right out to the green belt, is covered in a matrix of these zones and apart from certain A roads and other through routes all roads are subject to 20 mph speed limits so that drivers can catch the legend on the entry signs as they approach and pass them.

As the extract from the Driving Theory Test document suggests, drivers are presumed to know these details.

I seem to spend an unwelcome amount of my time reporting missing, obliterated and twisted signs to the City Council and sometimes they get rectified.

Martin Saxton says:
18 August 2020

Is there a time limit by when the issuing authority must issue a notice? Have one which is over 6 months old and the driver no longer works for the company.

Martin – I believe a Penalty Charge Notice [local authority enforcement on public highway or car park] or Parking Charge Notice [private land] must be issued within fourteen days of the enforcement event for the alleged contravention.

The driver of the vehicle is usually liable for parking penalties and charges unless the vehicle owner has authorised the driver to park in contravention of the applicable regulations, but so far as I understand it, the owner is not obliged to disclose the name and address of the driver if the ticket has been issued out of time.

I would return a statement to that effect to the issuing authority but if your statement is challenged or they continue to pursue the matter then you would be advised to seek specialist advice. There are a number of websites that could be more up-to-date on parking penalties and charges which might help you free of charge or provide the information you need in order to reject the Notice.

Carla White says:
19 August 2020

I recieved a parking ticket from smart parking (private firm). I had paid for parking as I used my card so had proof from the bank but I can only assume I must have done a keying error. Smart parking are refusing to check records and also as I had gone straight to Popla to contest it,(not knowing I forfiet the early payment) Popla have said its unsuccessful even though I have proof. Is there anyway I can get the information from Smart parking so I can check registrations for keying errors??

Jeremy van Hagen says:
23 August 2020

Yes, write to them and ask for a copy of all the information they have about you. You can mention anything specific you want covered but make sure you ask for everything they have. This is a Subject Access Request and they must supply it within one month of request. If they don’t (and don’t notify you in advance) then they are in beach of GDPR.

Zoë Astridge says:
25 August 2020

I have a fine from smartparking for an unpaid ticket. I was there 17 mins. However, I didn’t even leave the car as I was on a call and then left. Can you be charged for sitting in the car?

Zoë – You were not fined for sitting in your car but for parking your car in a place either where waiting is not permitted at all or where parking without the necessary payment or permit is not allowed. Occupying the car does not change the nature of the contravention – it is still either in a ‘no waiting’ area or taking up a parking space.

Robyn says:
25 August 2020

Hi, I recently got an excess charge notice (£40 if paid in 2 weeks or £80 if paid later) for not displaying a ticket when parking at a Royal park. I paid for the parking but the machine did not print a ticket. I can give evidence that I have paid but it looks like they already know I have paid and are just fining me for not displaying the ticket. I also want to note it was the 2nd machine that I had tried (the first machine did not work at all). I have tried to appeal but the Royal Parks / NSL service responded with the below points:
1. If the machine did not distribute a ticket another machine should have been used (But my payment was already accepted – this means I would have to pay again and then try reverse the first payment!)
2. or the number on the machine should have been called for assistance (Unfortunately I did not do this, I expect this is where I lose this battle)
3. or alternative legal parking should be sought (Again, my payment was already accepted so this is not a realistic option)

They also annoyingly added this comment “Please be advised that it is never possible for all ticket machines to be out of order in our parks”. This frustrating because they are implying that a customer needs to go and try many machines at any given time to successfully pay (and get the parking ticket to display)? It feels like not maintaining their parking machines is a convenient way to create barriers for customers to have a successful transaction, and that this way they are able to rake in the fines. Is this a battle that’s worth fighting for? I feel like I took reasonable steps to comply and it irks me that there is so much onus on a customer sort this when really the machines should be working properly in the first place.

Hellie says:
26 August 2020

I have been issues with 2 parking fines for the same parking offence -one at 03.07 and the on the at 07.13am on the same day by a private company (TNC Parking services). I was unaware at the time I was not allowed to park in the car park. I only have the one physical parking ticket that was found on the windscreen, and didn’t realise I was issued with the second one until I paid the first one and then was continually harassed for the second one I did not know about.
Is this legal?

steve says:
31 August 2020

I have received a parking fine in the post with a photo of the front and back of my car on it, i never actually got a ticket or anything at all on my windscreen or anywhere else on my car saying i had been given a ticket and the photo they sent also shows nothing on my screen. I have been and looked for a sign in the carpark since and there is one on a back wall that i didnt notice on the day i parked stating parking fines can be issued.
My question is this a legall fine as i didnt actually get a ticket on my car so right upto getting the fine in the post i didnt know i couldnt park in that carpark.

Steve – On many car parking sites on private land, the enforcement is done by cameras using automatic number plate recognition technology [ANPR] since there is no foot patrol and the parking ticket is sent by post to the registered keeper of the vehicle. For any area where parking restrictions apply and enforcement takes place there should be prominent and visible information signs setting out the parking conditions and how they will be enforced. If you consider that the sign in the car park was not sufficiently clear to any user of the area then you probably have a good case for appealing against the ticket. You should do this by following the instructions printed on it. It will help your case if you can send a photograph of the sign and its position with your challenge.

I was issued a parking ticket for parking at my own gym’s car park on the 2nd day of the reopening of all gyms since lock down. Normally, i would need to register my car’s number plate onto an iPad found at the gym’s reception so i can be provided a permit for parking there. However, on that day the computers weren’t working at all due to technical difficulties so I couldn’t input my car’s number plate onto the terminal and was therefore not given a permit. I was then faced with a unfair parking ticket as a result of that. I’ve tried contacting the gym about it and they claim their hands are tied and can’t do anything related to parking fines. My appeal was also denied to that micky mouse company that own that car park and the parking company doesn’t have a number or email to contact them. I believe they just ruled out my appeal just because they want money. I’m not sure what to do as I have 1 more day left to pay the reduced rate, either send appeal to popla or just pay the fine? I just find it ridiculous I received such an unfair ticket where the gym was at fault in this one.

Ali – Your issue is with the gym so I suggest you pay the parking charge to avoid its escalation and then make a formal written claim against the gym. As a member they should give you some assistance and accept that the failure of their computer system has caused you additional expense and inconvenience.

I assume that like other leisure venues the gym wants to get back in business as quickly as possible and make up for lost time and money so supporting its current members would be a good way to start.

Thank you for your response John! The gym has been very useless with this situation claiming they dont deal with parking fines and have strict orders not to contact the parking company – all seems to be some kind of fishy business going on. I wanted to consider leaving the gym as a result of this silly fine. I wanted to ask what is a formal written claim and how does it work?

Ali – I am sorry I for a late response to your request for further guidance but I lost your comment in the avalanche of comments on another topic.

To submit a formal claim all you need to do is to write a letter setting out what you said in your first comment here and send it to the head of the company that manages the gym. Ask them to reimburse you the amount you had to pay the parking operator to park during your gym visit because the gym’s computer system was not operating. Tell them that unless they make a reimbursement you will file a claim against the company in the County Court [small claims court]. Give them 14 days in which to respond.

I cannot guarantee they will respond favourably but it is likely to be the only way to get a refund if they will not deal with you or the parking operator directly.

Not knowing the location, I have assumed that your gym is within a shopping mall or leisure complex with a car park, and there is a scheme for shoppers or users to register their vehicle on arrival at the premises to park free of charge for their visit. There is no doubt an agreement between the centre management and each store or venue for their mutual benefit because free parking attracts visitors and increases footfall to other outlets within the complex. Why the gym staff cannot communicate with the car park people when there is a technical problem beats me but the consequence is that users are placed at an unfair disadvantage – I expect free parking was a declared benefit when you signed up as a member of the gym and their denial of that is effectively a breach of contract. You could mention that if your claim is resisted. Please let us know how you get on.

No worries. Oh ok, ill keep that in mind. My reduced rate has already gone past now so I may consider appealing to popla and if that doesn’t get approved, I’ll write the formal claim letter to them. The gym I’m referring to is called Gold’s gym and the mickey mouse parking company is civil enforcement ltd. Yes, I’ll let you know how it goes :).

Hi there John, just a follow-up, i’ve finally got the ticket cancelled! I got put through to the manager of operations and got it cancelled for me!

Excellent news, Ali. Thanks for reporting back.

It means you get your parking charge cancelled but it unfortunately leaves the gym with little incentive to be more helpful when there is a technical issue with their IT system.


I was issued parking ticket on Blackheath Avenue Greenwich park. I have purchase the ticket from the meter machine.I displayed on the car steering deck. It cleary shows that your staff is not working properly, I still have the ticket with me for the proof. I want you to cancel the issued parking charge.

It is rediculous that your staff can’t even see the ticket on the car.
It is a shame to your company that can’t even hire a decent person who work the right way.

Colin Dale says:
4 September 2020

Parked in station car parkand paid for ticket-or so I thought- paid by card, nothing during transaction flagged any problem. A ticket was produced by machine loooking very much like a parking ticket. Displayed on windscreen, when I got back I had Parking Charge Notice £80 (£50 within 14 days) for not displaying a valid ticket. On closer inspection the ticket produced by machine was void transaction receipt, evem though it had Place ticket on dashboard across middle of ticket. I had not noticed. Do I have any ground for appeal ?

Colin – You could challenge the parking charge but I wouldn’t rate your chances of success very highly as the answer will probably be that you should have looked at the receipt to make sure it was correct. It might be better to pay now at the discount rate and avoid the higher charge.

If there was a fault with the card that you used to pay for the parking you could take it up with the issuer and ask for compensation for your out-of-pocket loss [£50 minus the cost of the parking time].

Yes John accept what you say but normally you would not get a ticket if payment was not received.I should have checked but you know how it is it was contactless held card up ticket produced with Pay and Display Place On Dashboard across top and middle of ticket very prominently, the T status network failed and void transaction receipt very small by comparison.
I thought I had paid ! It was not an attempt to park for free

I think it normal when a card payment has failed to get an appropriate notification. I sympathise with your situation but agree with John that you are unlikely to get anywhere with the parking company unless they make a goodwill gesture. They simply informed you your payment had failed. The mitigating circumstance would be the ticket was apparently a parking receipt to be displayed in the vehicle and that seems the misleading bit.

Would you like to join the club and demand that extortionate parking penalties are brought down to acceptable levels by legislation?

Thank you, Colin. I commented on your chances of success with a parking company, not on the justice of your claim.

From a practical point of view the notification of payment failure has to be printed on the ticket stock on a roll in the pay-&-display machine which is no doubt already overprinted with the Place on Dashboard instruction.

It would be helpful if there was a prominent warning on the machine saying “Check your ticket”. Sometimes it is necessary to enter the vehicle registration mark and mistakes occur invalidating the ticket; it can also happen that the time purchased is less then the driver paid for which can also lead to a parking charge for overstaying, so it is well worth checking the ticket every time before leaving the vehicle.

I happen to think that P&D machines should issue a two-part ticket so the driver can retain the stub as a reminder of the arrival time and the time booked. A lot of drivers do not seem to be aware either that tickets often have an adhesive label on the back that should be peeled off and stuck partially on the back to stick it to the windscreen or on front side to stick it on the dashboard to save it from being blown down when the car doors are closed. The whole process is fraught with traps for the unwary and a lot of money is being made by the operators and local councils as a consequence. Unfortunately they are not generous with goodwill in these circumstances.

Thank you John, I take your point of overprinted stock and chances of success in appeal. Signage was Please purchase a ticket and display in the wind screen of your vehicle. No peel off sticker. I payed for whole day (But only stayed 4 hours). Normally I do check my ticket but for some reason I didn’t do it well enough this time, I saw the Place on dashboard and £5-50 but not the void receipt text. £80 (£50 if paid within 14 days) is an expensive lesson !

Hi Colin – If you send you void ticket with an appeal you might be lucky, , particularly if the void ticket is dated. Many appeals are successful. I had wondered why you had not checked the departure time but you have explained that it was an all-day ticket. Best of luck.

Wavechange – Colin’s problem was that no payment was made for the time parked and the ‘void’ ticket merely confirms that. I don’t believe there is any way in which a retrospective payment can be made. Unfortunately, if his appeal fails he will face an £80 fine instead of £50.

I appreciate that no payment was made, John. Sometimes it is necessary to have a second attempt with a contactless card. As you say, there is a risk but I hope that the ticket as evidence (assuming it is dated) and perhaps asking about how to pay the original charge might produce the right result. You might well be right that my approach would not work but I’ve found that taking an unorthodox approach can be successful in dealing with problems.

The common complaint in these posts is the size of the penalty. Rather than trying to find a multiplicity of ways to avoid the penalty by challenging these offences, often clear infringements, it would be better, in my view, to attack the core problem, the extortionate penalty. I suspect we would see far fewer complaints if, when parkers have transgressed and are caught, a more acceptable penalty were imposed.

I agree, Malcolm. Now that enforcement is a virtually automatic operation carried out at very little cost the penalties are outrageous. The justification used is that they deter unauthorised parking but I think sensible charges would improve driver acceptance of the system overall.

On private land only authorised users should be present so a deterrent penalty [say, £30] would be fair. In public car parks the only contraventions that should attract a deterrent fine would be parking without a ticket or permit [or it not being displayed], overstaying by 10 minutes or more, parking outside the bay widths, and parking in a disabled bay without a blue badge, or parking in another restricted or prohibited place without entitlement, because these all reduce capacity or cause a nuisance. I could even support an escalating penalty for overstaying according to the degree of excess at an hourly rate; this would be easy to enforce by automatic processes but not easy to enforce by manual patrols so the industry might welcome that one! All the other contraventions are trivial infringements that should only attract a nominal charge [e.g. £10 max]. Drivers caught without a ticket on display should only face a small penalty if they can provide evidence that they did in fact buy a ticket.

Parking remains an emotive subject so I don’t suppose that would be the end of the moaning.

Off-street parking, and on-street parking enforcement, are provided to ensure orderly parking, turnover of parking spaces, a reduction in congestion, and an improvement in road safety. A lower price for parking generally and reasonable parking charges or penalty charges would encourage better use of authorised parking places and be more likely to achieve the objectives while still providing an adequate revenue return to the land-owner or public authority.