This Autumn, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is leading a campaign against unfair charges for parking on private land. The It’s Not Fine campaign reminds consumers that such charges are not fines or penalty notices as on public property. It also seeks to help those hit by disproportionate or unfair charges fight back.
Locally Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards officers are backing the campaign to ensure Aberdeenshire consumers get a fair deal over private car parking.
Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABs) across Scotland have helped clients challenge charges and will be at the forefront of campaign activities. They have seen consumers charged up to £200 for outstaying allotted time limits by as little as half an hour. Signs in such private car parks – often those outside supermarkets and garden centres – are not always clear or visible. Those who do not pay the charges often receive repeated letters from car park operators, many of which have references to rules and processes that do not apply in Scotland, such as County Court Judgements and the use of bailiffs.
Aberdeenshire Council Trading Standards Manager, Wilma Urquhart, explained
Motorists are encountering a range of problems in a variety of car parks, from specialist private car parks, retail parks and individual retail premises such as supermarkets.
Poor signage can leave them unaware of penalties and charges can be unacceptably large.
Other problems we’ve seen include parking charges incorrectly called a ‘fine’ and inappropriate and harassing debt collection activities.
Members of the public are being asked to help CAS find Scotland’s highest private parking charge or most confusing sign – snap a picture and submit it via Twitter or Facebook under the #sendusasign hashtag
If you are unlucky enough to get hit with a parking charge and you feel the ticket has been issued unfairly, or the charge is disproportionate your first steps should be
- Contact the company operating the car park and state the reasons why. For example, were the signs clear?
- Speak to the owner of the car park. Are they aware of the operating company’s conduct?
CAS have guidance and template letters to help you challenge unfair parking charges.
Manager of South West Aberdeenshire Citizen Advice Bureau, Eveline Crossan, commented
We see up to three complaints a week on this subject and welcome the Citizens Advice Scotland ‘It’s Not Fine’ campaign.
The campaign is an opportunity for us to gather information on poor practices in the private parking sector and we encourage people who have experienced issues to complete the online survey.
For more information on the It’s Not Fine campaign visit CAS It’s Not Fine.