A driver was fined £90 for leaving a McDonald’s car park, which raises a few points on the face of it that you are powerless to deal with.
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The driver was driving a hire car, he made a pitstop at a service station, was held up in traffic trying to leave McDonald’s and incurred a parking charge penalty.
The rental firm was billed by the car park operator and the money was deducted from the driver’s credit card account with an administration fee for processing the payment.
He did not have the opportunity to submit an appeal because he was unaware that he had inadvertently committed an offence. He was unable to contest it because it was automatically processed without question.
The hire car firm returned the £90 paid on the basis that it could not locate a signed copy of the rental agreement.
HIRE CAR CONTRACTS
All hire car firms have a clause stating car parking violations will be paid and deducted from the credit card details held.
It is buried in the small print of the terms and conditions and it cannot be avoided without agreeing to it. However, the fact remains that you ought to be made aware of any violations so you can appeal it.
Although the registered keeper is responsible for unpaid parking charges and traffic violations, the responsibility lies with the driver who committed the alleged offence. I say ‘alleged’ because anyone can allege anything until it is actually proven.
UNFAIR TERMS AND CONDITIONS
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 creates a ‘fairness test’ to prevent consumers being placed at an unfair advantage. Terms and conditions need to be transparent and fair, and anything that tips the rights and responsibilities in favour of the trader is considered unfair.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 also reinforces this. This legislation considers such practices unfair if they cause a consumer to take a different decision than they would have otherwise made if they had not been given false information or put under unfair pressure to proceed. The focus is on misleading and aggressive actions and omissions.
If you had no alternative but to agree to the terms and conditions, a Court would likely consider that you have been put under unfair pressure to do so.
CAR PARK SIGNS
Car park signs which set out the terms of the contract that you have entered into need to be clearly visible and easy to interpret.
You cannot be fined for parking on private land, although you can be presented with an invoice (disguised as a fine) that has to be less than £100.
You cannot simply ignore it, not appeal and hope it won’t be enforced as civil action for recovery in the Courts can be applied. This landmark ruling by the Scottish Courts bankrupted one motorist who tried that tactic.
You have breached the terms of the contract you have entered into with the land owner.
WHAT TO DO
This is automated and legalised theft.
You need to be proactive and act immediately to cancel the tickets with confirmation in writing.
These are my top tips on how to deal with private parking tickets and what you need to know.
The odds are stacked in your favour if you know how to fight back and contest these invoices disguised as fines. A driver cannot be fined for parking infringements on private land.
I have published a book on how to deal with parking tickets and pothole claims because it’s such a common problem I get asked for advice on.
Have you been fined under similar circumstances? If so, what was the outcome?