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Citizens Advice reveals top parking problems

Being fined for overstaying by seconds or getting chased about an unpaid parking penalty charge issued several years ago are some of the parking problems catching out drivers, Citizens Advice found last week.

The Citizens Advice service helped with 12,500 parking problems on public and private land between April and June 2016.

An analysis of over 1,300 private parking cases reported to the charity’s consumer service during this time reveals an emerging problem of people being chased for parking tickets they received years earlier.

In one case a woman was ordered to pay £120 for the non-payment of a ticket dated three years ago, despite receiving no communication from the private parking company in this time. She made an appeal when it first happened but assumed it had been resolved after not getting any response.

The evidence also finds some drivers received parking charge notices for minor slip-ups. In one instance, a person received a parking charge notice after stalling for 7 seconds on an access road to an airport.

Citizens Advice’s analysis also finds that whilst in some cases parking firms had not always treated customers fairly, drivers were also being caught out because of confusion about the rules.

Some drivers received a parking charge notice after double parking, displaying their ticket or blue badge incorrectly, or for making a mistake when typing their car registration into the ticket machine.

Motorists were not always clear about whether or not they had to pay a parking charge notice- even if they were aware of making an error. The most common query, with 205 cases, was drivers asking if they had to pay a parking charge notice, or checking to see if the parking firm was legitimate.

The other top five issues reported to Citizens Advice about private parking are:

  • Receiving a parking charge notice despite paying for a ticket. In some cases this was down to the driver displaying it incorrectly.

  • Getting a parking charge notice for displaying a parking permit incorrectly.

  • Debt collection and court action to recover unpaid parking charge notices.

  • Problems with the appeals process. In some instances drivers felt they were treated unfairly, such as having a parking charge notice upheld despite providing credible evidence it should be cancelled.

  • Getting a ticket for overstaying. In some cases people were not given a ‘grace’ period, whereas other drivers had overstayed considerably.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Years-old parking tickets and parking charge notices for short overstays are baffling motorists.

“Motorists do need to follow the rules when it comes to parking by making sure they pay for their stay and display tickets properly.

“But drivers are right to feel hard done by if they receive a letter out of the blue demanding payment for a parking charge notice they had appealed against years earlier. It is difficult for people to take the right course of action if they don’t know where they stand.

“Parking companies could help motorists by making sure they have the right information to hand. Clear and visible signs telling people about where they can park, for how long and how much it costs will help them to avoid parking charge notices  in the first place.   

“And for those who have received a parking charge notice an explanation about the appeals process and the outcome of it will give drivers greater clarity.

“Anyone who is unsure about a parking charge notice they have received can contact Citizens Advice.”

Top tips for private parking:

  • You shouldn’t be charged more than £100 for a parking charge notice on private land.

  • You may end up paying more than this if it gets passed to a debt collector as they can add on extra fees.

  • You have 14 days to pay a parking charge notice at a reduced rate of 50%.

  • Otherwise you can choose to make an informal appeal. It’s best to check with the ticket issuer how much time you have to do this - it’s usually between 21 and 28 days.

  • If your informal appeal is rejected you can issue a formal complaint through an independent appeals panel. It’s free to use and they’ll take an impartial view.

  • If your final appeal is rejected then it’s within your best interests to pay the parking charge notice. Refusal to do so could result in you being taken to court and you may end up paying further costs.

Notes to editors

  1. Between April and June 2016, local Citizens Advice helped with 5,021 unpaid parking and congestion charges, 4,021 parking problems on public land and 1,669 parking problems on private land. Citizens Advice consumer service helped with 1,815 parking problems over the same quarter.
  2. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  3. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  4. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  5. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  6. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  7. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.

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