Sunday, 30 March 2014

Prankster gets name check in Mail on Sunday

The Parking Prankster got a name check in the Mail on Sunday, 30 March 2014.

If the car parking company is a member of the BPA it is signed up to the independent body Parking on Private Land Appeals. Parking firms must pay £27 for every appeal made through this service but it costs you nothing, apart from time preparing for the case. Campaigners such as the National Motorists Action Group, AppealNow and Parking Prankster can offer advice to help you win
Other organisations which can also help are:
consumer action group

There were several factual errors in the article. At least the Mail on Sunday got the Prankster's name right, which is more than can be said for the parking company, 'Parking Eye'. At least this is slightly better than being called Private Eye by one of your advocates.

The Prankster would like to point out that Mrs Lemon and Mrs Harris did not win at POPLA. ParkingEye always lose at POPLA with the right appeal and so do their utmost to avoid giving out a POPLA code, and although Mrs Lemon asked for one, ParkingEye refused.

Instead they took the two ladies to court. Although The Prankster along with several other people offered a small amount of help behind the scenes, the credit for the court victory must go to the two ladies who did their research and mounted an awesome defence. The transcript of their victory, kindly donated by Mrs Lemon, is available here and makes great reading. While you are at it, also read ParkingEye v Collins-Daniel.

The Prankster offers the following brief corrections.

There are two rival parking trade associations, the BPA Ltd and the IPC Ltd. POPLA is only available to members of the BPA Ltd. If your ticket is from the IPC Ltd you must use their appeals service instead; IAS.

You must first appeal to the parking company and then the appropriate appeals service.

When you appeal to the parking company, mitigating circumstances can be used; several parking companies for instance, have secret clauses in their contracts which state that genuine shoppers will not be charged.

If they turn you down you can then appeal to the appropriate appeal service. At this point you must use points of law and not mitigating circumstances. The parking companies have lobbied hard to prevent the winning points of law from appearing on public documentation, such as the POPLA website, and have largely been successful.

The main winning point is that if the charge is for breach of contract the level of charge can only put the landowner back in the position they were before the transgression occurred. It is impossible to run a parking company on this basis; they could never make a profit. As a result parking companies have resorted to making untrue statements about their costs, but even so they are almost always found out and the appeal upheld.

ParkingEye, for instance, regularly lie to POPLA and the courts that their cost per ticket issued is £53 but have been exposed because their 2011/12 accounts show that it is in fact a maximum of £16.

ParkingEye are on record as having lost over 100 appeals on this point, and never having won. Dr Julian Lewis MP has written to Stephen Hammond MP pointing this out, and ParkingEye are now under investigation by the DVLA for repeated breaches of the BPA Ltd code of conduct.

Companies who are members of the IPC Ltd use a different cost model. Their charges are a contractual charge and must be appealed differently.The IPC Ltd is on record as having stated in the January 2014 meeting of the DVLA Consumer forum that parking companies who charge for breach of contract are using an unsustainable business model, and they do not allow such companies to be members.

To get specialist help on POPLA or IPC appeals, The Prankster recommends moneysavingexpert.

For help on court cases, The Prankster recommends pepipoo.

Other resources are linked at the start of this blog post.

The Prankster can also help of course, but has limited resources. To combat this, The Prankster has written two guides to defending a ParkingEye court case. These allow a great deal of self-help, and one guide has reached the #2 spot on the Kindle for legal self-help books.

One guide concentrates on the legal points needed to win a case. The other guide explains the processes which occur during a ParkingEye court case, the forms to fill in, the paperwork you will receive and need to file and so on.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Saturday, 29 March 2014

APCOA admit Luton airport fines are a money-making scam

Airport bosses like to pretend that they have implemented no-stopping zones for security reasons. However, this press interview shows otherwise.

In this incident a motorist stopped for about 9 seconds in a no stopping zone to read the signs, because it was impossible to read them while moving due to the sunlight.

She was issued with a parking charge which she appealed. The appeal was rejected, but the charge was dropped when she went to the press.

A spokesman for APCOA said

Upon reviewing the CCTV Ms Lee’s PCN was rescinded on the grounds that she was not deliberately trying to evade the parking charge, more so trying to gather her bearings which is completely understandable. Drivers should only expect to be penalised if they are seen to use the restricted ‘no stopping at all times’ zones as pick-up or drop-off points.
Mrs Lee was clearly not in breach of these terms which is why we are pleased to cancel the PCN.

This makes it clear that the whole point of the no stopping zone is to raise revenue. If the issue were truly about security then no stopping at all would be allowed, and all the signs would be better designed to be readable in all conditions, and at the speed cars drive past.

Prankster's Advice

Although Mrs Lee's appeal was rejected, she would have won if she had appealed to the independent adjudicators POPLA using the following grounds. Grounds 1-3 only apply if the driver has not been identified.

1) Luton Airport is not 'relevant land' for the purposes of POFA 2012 as parking-related byelaws apply.
2) A short stop is not parking for the purposes of POFA 2012
3) For those two reasons, keeper liability does not apply and only the driver is liable. The parking operator has not identified the driver and therefore the charge is not applicable.
4) Any charge an operator makes for breach of contract must be a true pre-estimate of loss. The airport has lost nothing for such a short stay.
5) No contract can be said to be in place between motorist and operator. All contracts must have an offer, acceptance and consideration. All three elements are missing. There is no offer from the operator. There is no acceptance from the driver because the signage cannot be read at driving speed, so the driver cannot be said to be aware of the contractual terms. There is no consideration paid by the driver.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Friday, 28 March 2014

New ParkingEye court case referred to POPLA

The Prankster has learned today that another ParkingEye court case has been referred to POPLA by the courts. This is an excellent result for all 3 parties and will result in reduced costs for the court, the motorist and ParkingEye.

The Prankster encourages all parties to follow this lead and use the designated appeals service POPLA wherever possible to save money for all parties.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

7 up

The Prankster has heard of one more ParkingEye upset today, but his fingers are too worn out to do any more typing.

No doubt ParkingEye will be working feverishly all weekend to update their website. Here is the start of their latest post, which was 6 months ago. Obviously nothing newsworthy has happened since then.

4 of the best - ParkingEye fights back against the forums

Unfortunately a number of motorists receive misguided and often misleading advice from online forums who claim that ParkingEye's charges are 'unfair' and 'illegal'. Previously this advice urged motorists to ignore all correspondence from ParkingEye, advice that has meant that ParkingEye has had to take legal action to recover the unpaid Parking Charges. Further to this many motorists, on receiving a claim form, visit these sites for a 'robust' template defence. This sort of defence, and all that have subsequently followed, have failed to convince any County Court Judge that ParkingEye's charges are unfair, disproportionate or a penalty.

The Prankster suggests the following would be a suitable update.

7 of the best - ParkingEye epic failure against the forums

Unfortunately a number of motorists receive misguided and often misleading advice from ParkingEye who claim that judges have created a new area of law especially for them which allows them to override consumer law, the BPA Ltd Code of Practice and anything else they find inconvenient. ParkingEye's charges are 'unfair' and 'illegal'. ParkingEye previously urged motorists to pay up straight away. However, following their discovery that they could add £50 filing fee to their claim without actually incurring this charge, they now urge all motorists to wait until receiving a claim form before paying up. ParkingEye recommend motorists do not visit forums for advice, or buy the Prankster's guides or try and put up any kind of defence whatsoever. ParkingEye warn motorists that if they do this they are liable to convince large numbers of County Court Judges that ParkingEye's charges are unfair, disproportionate or a penalty. This may lead to shareholder dissatisfaction with ParkingEye and further legal action.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

ParkingEye lose in court (echo?). Rheidol Retail Park

Initial reports are coming in that ParkingEye have lost a case in Derby county court regarding Rheidol Retail Park.

ParkingEye have never yet come up with a contract for that particular car park, and so far they have always been blessed with lenient judges who let them get away with this.

Today they were not so lucky. The judge asked to see the contract. ParkingEye's LPC Law representative played for time by asking for an adjournment. The judge ruled that this would not be proportionate in this case, and dismissed the claim.

The Prankster will supply more details if and when this can be confirmed.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

ParkingEye drop two claims after being ordered to by landowner

The Prankster has been helping a motorist with advice on two ParkingEye court claims, and has now received the desired result; both claims cancelled.

The motorist's family visited a shopping centre with two cars, spent some time shopping, then as is their regular custom, visited McDonalds to round the trip off and have some food. This resulted in a 20 minute overstay.

After a few letters, ParkingEye filed court claims.

The Prankster firmly believes the best way to win at court is never to get there in the first place. One of the most successful ways to get a claim cancelled, as advised by the British Parking Association Ltd, is to contact the landowner. Unfortunately ParkingEye know this too, and prising the landowner name out of them is harder than getting a tax refund.

The Prankster's guide suggests strategies for finding and contacting the landowner, but here is an actual example.

10 Feb 2014. Email from motorist to Mcdonald's
Hi Nicola, In regards to our conversation on 10/02/2014: reference the potential cancellation of the Parking eye penalty charge and small claims county court letter, A total of 6 people in two cars visited the retail park on 14/08/2014, purchasing items from pound stretchers and B&M bargains totaling £13.95, finishing their visit by enjoying a meal at McDonald's, of the purchases, one was made via debit card totaling £11.95 which should be easily confirmed by your receipt system should you deem necessary.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your help in hopefully resolving this issue; all parties involved cannot be more appreciative. If it would not be too much trouble I would be grateful of a further correspondence following the outcome.

14 Feb 2014 Email Mcdonald's to ParkingEye
From: McDonalds
Sent: 14 February 2014 15:44
Subject: Customers fines
To whom it may concern Please can the following two fines be cancelled, they are for two of my customers and they are in the process of county court proceedings. Please can you confirm by email that they have been cancelled.
21 Feb 2013 Email ParkingEye to McDonald's
From: Enforcement []
Sent: 21 February 2014 13:55
Subject: FW: Customers fines 
Hi Nicola, Just to introduce myself: My name is Jade and I am one of the Enforcement Officers at ParkingEye and I oversee the enforcement process including any court proceedings we issue. I have just looked into this matter. The motorists in question has received at least 4 letters, all of which gave them the opportunity to appeal to us and let us know their reason for overstaying on site on the date of the Parking Event. As you can imagine we certainly do not want to be issuing court proceedings to those with a legitimate reason for parking on site, but unfortunately we were unaware that this was the case in both these instances. Unfortunately at this stage we have encountered further costs that amount to £50, and due to the inaction of the motorist we would require payment of this (for each case) in order to cancel the Parking Charges and Court Claims. The last thing we would want - and no doubt you would feel the same - would be for it to become common that motorists ignore all correspondence until the final hour and then inform us that they had a genuine reason for parking on site. We can send them a letter explaining this and outlining the above. Also, would you please be able to inform why they appear to have ignored our correspondence to date? Please let me know if this would be a satisfactory way to resolve this situation and situations such as this going forward?
Best Regards,

21 Feb Email McDonalds to ParkingEye
From: McDonalds
Sent: 21 February 2014 15:18
To: 'Enforcement'
RE: Customers fines 
Hi Jade I completely understand your point however I can only deal with the information I have. They are a couple of regular customers (and are related) and came to me with their fines on the day I emailed you, they were quite distressed. As far as I am aware they have appealed as they came to me with some documentation. After speaking to a manager for the landlord a month or so ago I was informed that these fines where not supposed to affect genuine customers and he advised me that if they appealed and I could support their claim they would be cancelled. I fear that some customers are already deterred from returning to the restaurant from the great deal of negative feedback I receive weekly and I do not want to lose any more custom. Is there no other way to resolve this situation as a one off?
Kind Regards

ParkingEye then stopped communicating. Having tried their best, McDonalds had to admit failure. The best they could do was get the charges reduced to £50 each.

24 Feb 2014. Email, motorist to McDonalds

From: motorist
Sent: 24 February 2014 10:07
To: McDonalds
Re: Customers fines
Hi Nicola, thanks for trying, the reason for not replying to them was simple, they do not posses the legal right to charge for parking on the land, only the land owner does, and the disproportionate charge amounts to nothing more then daylight robbery. I'd like to thank you for you support throughout the matter, I would also ask one final favour, are you in possession of the contact details of the land owner?. As I would like to contact them directly to ascertain if they feel they have suffered any financial loss due to the 22 minute overstay with the intention of resolving the matter with the them, the only persons with the legal right to bring such a charge. 
Now in possession of the landowner's agent contact details, the motorist proceeded with further phone calls and emails.

Hi Helen, reference on phone conversation this morning, To briefly explain, I know the land owner is Thread needle pensions Ltd, I have been advised that Parking eye do not have locus standi to pursue any persons that park on the land, and have been advised to contact thread needle pensions as they are the only ones who are capable of bringing any charges towards my wife and sister in law with regards to the 22 minute overstay, where my wife,sister in law,three children (one of which was 2 years old at the time) and elderly grandmother with arthritus, who has also undergone a hip replacement visited the Churchill way retail park, where they did some shopping, purchasing items and finally enjoyed a meal within the premises.
I have visited the retail stores on site and discussed the issue with the respective store managers, all of which stated they do not feel they suffered financially for the 22 minuets overstay, in fact due to purchasing items in store they profited from the visit and were kind enough to to give details of their head offices for correspondence, I might add, their responses all had a similarity, that customers may be driven away and 2 hours is not enough time to shop and eat.
As I mentioned I have been advised to contact the land owner to ascertain if they feel they have suffered a financial loss due to the overstay and negotiate a settlement for this matter with them directly, and if they feel they have not then I will ask them to order parking eye to cease the pursuance of what amounts to nothing more then harassment for their own financial gain, I have also been advised to inform the land owner that, should parking eye continue, I will be applying under CPR (civil procedure rule) seeking replacement of parking eye with thread needle ltd as they are the principle, at which point all details appertaining to this case will be offered out the the local and national media, in an attempt to bring an end to the ongoing targeting of the general public by companies such as parking eye, if you briefly check the internet you will see, is not far off gaining the notoriety of the private wheel clamping escapades a few years back, and will surely attract the media attention warranted.
As with all things in life, I believe there is an order, a chain to follow, and as you are the contracting agency assigned to manage the land I think it only fair to allow you the opportunity to stop this matter prior to involving the landowner. Parking eyes response stating £50 costs for both cases is a lie, previous cases thrown out of court clearly state the charges do not amount to a pre-estimate of loss, and are merely the cost of running a business their in house solicitor, Rachael Ledson is employed to deal with all of their legal matters, therefore her employment is a cost of running the business and not a sufficient pre-estimate of loss. I apologize if this correspondence seems harsh, and my frustration is not directed to you personally but I am furious, as the stress from the illegal harassment by parking eye is now adversely affecting my wife's medical condition, and for this reason I intend to have this quashed, or pursue all persons involved through the courts, irreverent of the financial cost to myself, as i'm sure you can understand, when somebody causes stress and harm to your loved ones it must not be tolerated and be met with a firm stance.
Kind regards 

 This had the desired effect and the charges were cancelled. True to form, ParkingEye sent several letters to the motorist informing them of this, but they never arrived. The managing agent had to request ParkingEye to resend the letters.

Prankster's Note

It is clear from this correspondence that ParkingEye's claim to be a necessary component of the shopping process inflicted on the motorist to ensure turnover of parking spaces is not upheld by large numbers of retailers, who are losing custom and customer goodwill each time a parking charge is issued.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

ParkingEye lose in court - Bristol Retail Park

3JD09341 ParkingEye v Jones (Bristol, 28/03/2014). Bristol Retail Park. DDJ Batstone agreed with the findings of DDJ Melville-Shreeve (ParkingEye v Collins-Daniel) that the signage in the car park was 'wholly deficient'. The judge referred to ParkingEye v Collins-Daniel case several times.

ParkingEye had previously lost a case in Bristol county court for this same car park. ParkingEye's representative from LPC Law, Mr Gopal, will now forever be known by his colleagues as 'that Mr Gopal' for his performance in that case, succeeding only in doubling the amount of costs awarded against his client. The Judge, DDJ Melville-Shreeve was not impressed by ParkingEye's conduct during the case.

Perhaps not surprisingly Mr Gopal either declined to take this new case, or ParkingEye declined to use him again. ParkingEye's new representative, Mr Purchase, must have feared a hospital pass and was not disappointed. DDJ Batstone referred extensively to the transcripts of the previous case.

Referring to the signage as 'wholly deficient', he dismissed the claim and awarded the defendant £97 costs.

This case is an excellent example how a defendant, initially very worried about the case, found the courage to fight it despite the wholly unreasonable and bullying paperwork submitted by ParkingEye. The Prankster salutes her and hopes that her example will help other people in the same situation.

Once the court process is de-mystified it becomes less scary. With plenty of resources and help available on the internet, this case shows you need no legal training and no prior knowledge of the actual issues to mount a robust defence and win a case even when the other side are using trained advocates against you. All you need is perseverance, courage and determination.

With this said, the small claims court remains a lottery with different judges giving conflicting judgements on the same issues. The Prankster recommends that the easiest way to win a court hearing is never to have one in the first place. ParkingEye have lost all known cases at POPLA where the issue of pre-estimate of loss is raised, and this remains the easiest way to get an invalid parking charge dismissed.

Failing that, consideration must still be given to the time and effort needed to fight a small claims case. ParkingEye are known to settle for £50, so if this is an acceptable figure, even if you know you are likely to win at any hearing, it may well be worth attempting to negotiate. The court encourages negotiation, which can take place at any time right up to the doors of the hearing.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

ParkingEye lose case which was referred to POPLA from court (is there an echo here?)

The Parking Prankster has now heard that a second case which was referred to POPLA by the court has now been decided.

In this case, ParkingEye v Mr O, the overstay occurred because the driver had to suddenly and unexpectedly breastfeed her child. Although ParkingEye were informed about this and that the Equalities Act 2010 applied, they refused to cancel the charge, explaining that ParkingEye do not give extra time to people covered by the Equalities Act 2010 and that if she was not happy to be treated this way she should not park in the car park.

Once the case was referred to POPLA, Mr O put in a robust defence.

ParkingEye failed to even turn up.

The assessors verdict is reproduced below.

Once again all parties will be happy with this result. The motorist got the charge cancelled. The courts save time and resource. ParkingEye, obviously aware they would lose, saved large amounts of money by not even bothering to submit a case.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

ParkingEye lose case which was referred to POPLA from court

A while back, ParkingEye obtained a default judgement against a motorist, as reported on MoneySavingExpert.

The Prankster blogged about this case here.

After some effort, the judgement was overturned, and the case re-instated. As a point of conduct, the judge ordered the case to use the industry standard arbitration process and be referred to POPLA. This saves court time and costs for both parties.

The POPLA verdict is now in. POPLA ruled that as this was a free car park, no costs were incurred to the landowner as a result of any overstay.

Costs could include loss of revenue at a shopping centre. However, in this case either there was no loss of revenue, or ParkingEye declined to provide any evidence of such.

Therefore, any costs incurred in chasing up a debt of £0 are not consequential to any initial loss and so fall outside of any estimate of loss calculations.

The POPLA verdict is reproduced below.

This is in line with judgments from ParkingEye v Clarke, where DDJ Buckley described ParkingEye's business model as bizarre, and ParkingEye v Collins-Daniels (warning, do not read while drinking coffee), where the judge pointed out that an overstay of 40 years cost the landowner the same as five hours, which was nothing.

All parties will now be extremely happy. The court has saved time and scarce resources. The motorist has had her charge cancelled. ParkingEye have saved large amounts of court and legal costs which they would have otherwise incurred in order to reach this same verdict.

ParkingEye still have not dropped charges. Hopefully this is now just a formality.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Is the BPA Ltd fit to retain ATA status?

Following on from Dr Julian Lewis MP's letter to Stephen Hammond MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Transport, one of the issues raised was that the BPA Ltd are turning a blind eye to questions of compliance, and are not bothering to enforce the sector.

Essentially, they are acting as a private members club where anything goes; any transgressions are brushed under the carpet with a nod and a wink to the naughty member, and a dismissive letter to the poor motorist.

Here is one example of many, documented on this website.

Although this motorist's report highlights many failures of the system, the most important one is that the documents that the operator UKCPS sent to the POPLA appeal revealed that their contract had expired and they were therefore issuing tickets without authority. The POPLA result confirms this.

This is a serious breach of the BPA Ltd code of conduct, and should result in 10 sanction points.

The motorist asked the BPA Ltd to investigate. Instead of springing into immediate action and taking positive steps, such as requiring the operator to cease operation until a contract was in place, to refund all charges for tickets issued invalidly and to audit all other car parks for similar transgressions, the BPA Ltd informed the motorist the matter was closed.
Once an appeal has gone to POPLA and been allowed, we do not investigate unless the Lead Adjudicator believes there has been a breach of the Code and requests us to do so. The BPA is a membership association only and not a regulatory body and therefore consider this matter closed and will not enter into further correspondence.
This does raise serious issues. The DVLA are assuming that the BPA Ltd are regulating their members. However, the BPA Ltd state they are not regulating their members, and point 6.4 of their code of practice confirms they are not a regulatory body..

The BPA Lld also state in 6.4 
We will investigate any complaints about alleged noncompliance with the Code.
However, it now appears that this is not correct, and that they will only investigate non-compliance if POPLA's Lead Adjudicator asks them to, even for breaches which class as being in the most severe category. Since the Lead Adjudicator only reviews 1 in 10 decisions, it seems that the BPA Ltd have found a convenient get-out statement which allows them to pay lip-service to the idea of investigation, without actually requiring them to do anything.

Perhaps the DVLA could give a short sharp shock to the BPA Ltd, and inform them that unless it starts to take its responsibilities seriously, its ATA (Accredited Trade Association) status will be under review.

Only members of an ATA can get electronic access to the DVLA database for the purposes of parking enforcement on private land.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dr Julian Lewis MP gets to the heart of the matter. Why are the DVLA not taking action against ParkingEye?

The :Parking Prankster has today received a copy of a letter from Dr Julian Lewis MP to Stephen Hammond MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Transport.

Dr Lewis does not beat about the bush and gets straight to the heart of the matter. ParkingEye are repeatedly flouting the BPA Ltd code of practice; the BPA couldn't care less; the DVLA are turning a blind eye to the BPA Ltd's failure to take enforcement action.

The Prankster will keep an eye on matters.

Meanwhile, if you are currently being taken to court by ParkingEye, The Prankster suggests you think about filing this letter as part of your evidence; it clearly shows that the DfT have been asked to take action over ParkingEye due to their repeated flouting of the codes of practice.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

ParkingEye witness statement irregularities

A series of emails released under the Freedom Of Information Act expose serious irregularities in the way ParkingEye procure and use landowner witness statements.

The emails establish that ParkingEye write the witness statements themselves and then email them to the landowner where they are signed and emailed back. No supporting information regarding the parking event is supplied; only the date of the event.

On several occasions ParkingEye get information wrong; sometimes repeatedly.

In order to save inconvenience ParkingEye and the landowner collude to produce a pre-signed witness statement, which ParkingEye can then photocopy and date as often as they want without referring to the Landowner.

Many clauses in the witness statement are opinions rather than fact.

Many clauses in the witness statement are based on facts which it appears from the email trail the witness does not have in their own knowledge, and which they therefore cannot know whether they are true or not.

These are all examples of seriously bad practice. A witness statement should be written in the witnesses own words, and should be a statement of fact of information within the witnesses own knowledge; not opinions; not 'fact's you do not know yourself.

 Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Picture of the week. Is this why ParkingEye lost the B&Q contract?

ParkingEye's usual attention to detail is apparent here.

Although The Prankster does not know the full reasons why B&Q kicked out ParkingEye, no doubt signage like this did not help.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Has your business kicked out ParkingEye? Contact the Parking Prankster on to tell him the full details.