Parking charges and fines are one of my biggest bugbears; I’ve not paid a parking fine yet and never intend to. I advocate friends and family to do the same, as the whole system, even council car parks are often twisted money grabbing schemes.
When vehicle clamping on private land was banned in 2012, we motorists thought a corner had been turned, but as with all easy money making schemes the game just changed. Instead of clamping, nefarious private parking companies changed to slapping motorists with ‘Parking Charge Notices’ that mimic the official ‘Penalty Charge Notice’. That simple word change cons thousands of us into coughing up ludicrous amounts of money for trivial things like overstaying in a parking spot for a few minutes.
Quite often you won’t even know you’ve been had until a letter arrives through your door. You can thank the DVLA for that, do you know they sell your details for £2.50 a time? Each month they rake in a whopping £1.5 million for selling our addresses to private parking firms.
With the fee being so ridiculously low it’s no wonder dodgy parking practices have spread like the plague across the country.
Penalty Charge Notice vs Parking Charge Notice
The two types of parking ticket mean very different things, the simplest way to identify the two is that a Penalty Charge Notice is an official fine from a local council. Never ignore these and do take them seriously. If you’ve been unfairly given one due to some sort of mistake, you’ll often be able to appeal and be given a fair judgement.
A Parking Charge Notice, on the other hand, is merely a speculative invoice. It holds little weight and depending on the severity of what you’ve supposedly done, not a huge amount will happen.
That being said you should only contest the fine if you believe it, or the fee they’re trying to charge you to be unfair. If you’ve done something wrong and you know it, pay up.
What classes as unfair?
An unfair ticket can be one that was given unjustly, maybe being fined for parking on the white line of a bay, overstaying your ticket time by a few minutes, or entering your registration wrong when you paid.
Under the above circumstances, you’ll be sent a letter saying you need to pay a fine of around £100 if you do so within 14 days that will be reduced to £60. That’s unfair.
The majority of people pay straight away at the lower rate; it’s a simple money making scheme founded on fear of court orders and debt collectors.
Never pay a ticket from a private parking firm without looking into it first.
What if it goes to court?
Court is a scary word, but what you have to remember is there are significant costs involved for a parking firm to take you to court, especially if they lose. More often than not they can only try and claim back the lost revenue, so if you overstay by 10 minutes, that’s all they would effectively be entitled to.
Naturally, this can change on a per Judge basis, but Judges are busy people and quite often can’t even be bothered with such trivial matters. It will either be thrown out before it gets to court, or found in your favour if it’s an obvious case of common sense and they’re just coming after you trying to make a quick buck.
A small claims court will ask you to pay the fine but not the company’s costs; you also won’t get any sort of penalty on your credit rating. So even if you don’t pay up, the worst that will happen in the infinitesimally small chance that they take you to court, is you’ll have to pay the original fine cost.
For more information on how to appeal parking charges, you need to head on over to the private parking ticket section on Money Saving Expert.
How are they allowed to do this?
So the DVLA are making roughly £18 million a year by selling our details at £2.50 a time. They aren’t going to want that cash cow to dry up; their defence is that they only sell details to private parking companies that are registered with the BPA (British Parking Association) or the International Parking Community.
Both organisations are run by their members, the parking operators, which brings into question their legitimacy from a non-bias perspective. However, the DVLA deem that membership to these outstanding bodies’ means they’re good enough to buy our data.
What can be done?
Aside from fighting all unjust and unfair parking tickets to give these illegitimate companies a hard time, a new unfair parking charge campaign has just been launched by This Is Money.
They make the point that with all the new GDPR legislation, drivers should have the ability to opt-out of having their details shared with third parties. Following that, they’re asking for the DVLA to investigate ticketing hotspots in a bid to see if the charges are fair.
Hopefully, this new campaign will gain traction as the motorist is already seen as a honeypot for taxation, parking fines are yet another ruthless way to extract money from our pockets.