Earlier this year, I parked my car at a local mall that offers free parking.
But the operator, Premier Park, issued me a £100 penalty charge notice. The reason given was that I had occupied more than one marked bay.
That’s true, but I had no choice. I had parked my car between two others already parked, and so that everyone could get in and out of their vehicles, I parked equidistant between them, which put me on the marked line.
Parking Talk: Our reader has been trying to appeal his £100 PCN from Premier Park because he feels it’s unfair, but has been unsuccessful so far (stock image)
If I hadn’t, I would not only have blocked the other drivers, but I would have risked damaging my own car and theirs.
I was just being sensible and I don’t know why I should be punished for bad parking by others.
I appealed to the independent appeals service Popla, but they rejected my appeal saying that I had broken the parking regulations. Is there anything else I can do? IW, Nottinghamshire
Helen Crane of This is Money responds: These private parking companies regularly drive motorists through the wall and we at This is Money hear many horror stories.
From payment machines that don’t work to opaque ‘rules’ about where, when and for how long you can park, it’s easy for drivers to get caught up and have a dreaded PCN land on their doorstep, despite thinking they’ve done the thing. correct.
Change seemed to be on the horizon this year when the government drafted new official guidelines on the private parking code of practice.
CRANE IN THE CASE
In our weekly column, This is Money consumer expert Helen Crane addresses reader issues and sheds light on companies that are doing both good and bad.
Do you want me to investigate an issue, or do you want to praise a company for going the extra mile? Get in touch:
These were aimed at cutting private parking fees in half from £100 to £50 and giving drivers more powers to contest unfair fines.
However, the guidelines were temporarily withdrawn by ministers in June and are now pending review, after the parking companies launched legal action to challenge the proposal.
This is Money deputy editor Lee Boyce recently wrote about his run-in with a private parking company, which sent him a £100 fine despite having paid a fine.
He managed to get the charge dropped, but not before some frustrating administrative back and forth.
His advice is to always appeal a ticket if you were correct, never tell the company who was driving, and build your case as best you can.
Lee also urged drivers whose appeals were denied to persevere, as parking companies’ tactics appear to be to reject a first appeal, no matter how reasonable or sound.
You approached me after Popla rejected your appeal, not knowing which way to go next.
I agreed that the charge seemed unfair in this case; after all, he was just trying to park safely and without obstructing other drivers, even though he also breaks the terms and conditions listed on the signs.
I have contacted Premier Park to drive home their point. After a couple of weeks you told me you took a U-turn and offered an £80 reduction in the charge which means £20.
Private parking companies are notoriously inflexible, as I’m sure many motorists will attest, so I’m chalking it up as a win. Premier Park did not respond to my request for comment.
You still have the option of taking the company to court and challenging it for the outstanding sum.
But the hassle of continuing the claim, which has already taken a lot of your time, will probably outweigh the £20 profit and I suspect they know that.
I think this compromise means the end of the road. You broke the rules, unintentionally, and it serves as a parking reminder to other motorists: don’t do the same thing just because others have.
Bathroom bug: Kate’s soft-closing toilet seat stopped working, but Royal Bathrooms replaced it quickly and at no cost
Hit and Miss: This Week’s Naughty and Nice List
Every week, I look at the companies that have fallen short when it comes to customer service and the ones that have gone above and beyond.
Paste: Reader Kate told me she was left feeling flushed after getting a free replacement toilet seat from Royal Baths.
She bought them a vanity earlier in the year, including a soft-closing toilet seat that recently stopped working as intended, leading to some bathroom mishaps.
When you contacted Royal Bathrooms, you expected to be told to buy a new one.
But they asked him to send a video of the toilet seat in action, and within two days a new seat arrived by courier, free of charge.
It’s nice to hear from a company that acts with a bit of compassion and I’m glad you found their service more than standard.
Camer-gloom: Our reader had his trip to Yaoundé canceled when the flight was canceled
Miss: More stories of travel chaos this week, as reader H. from Manchester wrote to say she was still waiting for a refund for a flight that should have happened in February.
That was well before this hellish vacation summer kicked off, which doesn’t bode well for those trying to get their money back for more recent trips.
She said: ‘I planned a holiday to Cameroon for February 2022 and booked a return trip from Manchester to Yaounde on British Airways through Lastminute.com, paying £822.67.
‘The first leg of the trip was a flight from Manchester to London. When I got to the airport it was delayed for hours and finally cancelled.
‘I am disabled and was stranded at the airport with no support, forced to walk around the airport trying to locate my luggage so I could go home.
Then I had to ask a friend to come pick me up in a rented van and pay for parking. The cancellation also made the transportation I had initially booked to take me to and from the airport a complete waste of money. In addition to flight costs, this was around £400.
‘After all this hassle and expense, I just wanted my money back so I could plan another trip. I’ve been calling Lastminute for four months and they keep telling me I’ll get the money ‘in a few days’ but it never comes.
“I think the refund should be for the entire round trip, since the first leg of the trip was cancelled.”
Lastminute.com initially said it would not give a refund until BA had paid for it.
I contacted Lastminute.com to ask why the refund was taking so long.
He apologized for the delay and told me: ‘When purchasing an airline ticket independently, we act as an agent and the consumer’s contract for an airline ticket is between the customer and the airline directly.
“This unfortunately means that we are obliged to follow the rules and times established by the airline.
“It is also important to note that since the changes and subsequent cancellation happened at the last minute, we had no prior information about it to be able to proactively communicate with the customer.
“Our teams have been investigating this case and we can confirm that we have not yet received the funds from the airline.”
However, as a goodwill gesture, he agreed to “advance” the refund and refunded the full fare right back. That wasn’t that hard, was it?
With delays and cancellations wreaking havoc on travel plans this summer, tourists should be aware that if they book with an agent, it will likely take longer for their refund to process.
This is because they usually insist on taking back the money they paid the airline before giving it to the customer.
Travel storm: Tourists are affected by flight cancellations this summer
I regularly hear this excuse from agents and while I understand they can’t pay everyone out of pocket, clearly something needs to change here.
Either airlines and agents find a way to get money back from customers on time, or agents need to make it very clear to customers at the time of booking that refunds will take longer to come through.
Judging by the emails I’ve been getting, airlines aren’t being particularly responsive to refunding customers who book directly with them, either.
But for those who book independent flights and hotels rather than package deals, cutting out the middleman and going directly to the airline for flights could make the refund process a little less painful if things go wrong.
I also asked Lastminute about the extra costs they incurred due to the cancellation. He said he needed to go directly to BA for these, which he is doing.
I sincerely hope you agree with your claim as your airport experience sounded horrible, and if you don’t I’ll be right on the phone.