Councils and private parking operators are forcing motorists to use parking apps with no other option to pay. Parking apps are not foolproof and come with various problems. Accessing an app with a reliable mobile phone signal is not guaranteed, especially in underground car parks. It raises numerous issues and shines a spotlight on discrimination and your consumer rights.

Covid has accelerated a move towards a cashless society and forcing everyone to use digital technology with no choice. Consumers cannot speak to anyone as contact details are not available, with parking tickets being issued automatically by ANPR cameras that do not take any mitigating factors into account.

Private parking ticket operators use intimidating legalese jargon to force motorists to pay up. The threat of a fine escalating and an appeals process that is not fairly weighted intimidates a lot of people across all age spectrums.

Elderly motorists are particularly vulnerable to these tactics and will simply pay up because they feel threatened and are not aware of their consumer rights.

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What is the difference between a Council and a private parking ticket?

A Council parking ticket is a Penalty Charge Notice issued for breaching parking rules on public highways and roads. These are legally enforceable and is a civil offence.

A private parking ticket is a Parking Charge Notice and is merely an invoice disguised as an official parking ticket. It is issued for an alleged breach of contract for parking on private land.

Can a private parking operator fine you?

No – it is simply an invoice. You do not need to automatically pay it. You can challenge it. Do not be intimidated by the time conditions.

Consumer Rights Act 2015 and parking apps

You are entering into a digital content contract by using a parking app. Your statutory rights under a digital content contract are enshrined under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

S34 – Digital content to be of satisfactory quality

S35 – Digital content to be fit for particular purpose

S36 – Digital content to be as described

Councils and private parking operators need to have apps tested to ensure they can provide a fit and proper service under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

A faulty app does not meet the Consumer Rights Act 2015, so an appeal can be lodged on that basis.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 has a fairness test. You need to be given sufficient guidance to read the Terms and Conditions of the contract you are entering into before you make a decision. You usually have a 5 – 10 min grace period.

S13 British Parking Association Code of Practice Consideration and Grace Period also allow a grace period, which is a minimum of 5 mins.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and wider society. It places an obligation on businesses to make provisions relating to transport for disabled persons and make reasonable adjustments.

There are nine protected characteristics, although the main ones here are age and disability (including dyslexia).

Situations in which you are protected from discrimination

You are protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010:

  • When you use businesses and other organisations that provide services and goods (shops, restaurants, cinemas, gyms etc)
  • When you use transport

Direct discrimination means treating one person worse than another because of a protected characteristic.

Indirect discrimination is when an organisation creates rules and policies that have a worse impact on those with a protected characteristic. It also occurs where a provision or criteria is applied which is discriminatory to those with a protected characteristic.

Designing rules and regulations that work against elderly people could be classed as indirect discrimination.

Parking meters need to be easily accessible for those with disabilities. By making pay to park app only, this is discriminatory to those who do not have smartphones and are not familiar with modern technology.

Disabilities and parking apps

Many elderly people have disabilities and rely on cars for freedom of movement. Not all disabilities are visible and ANPR cameras do not take this into account.

Dyslexia is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. The NHS estimates that 1 in 10 people in England and Wales has dyslexia, which is up to 6m people.

MS, ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Long Covid and cancer are also recognised medical conditions that are classed as disabilities.

These can all be used as part of an appeals process.

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Gather your evidence for appeals

Here are my top tips to appeal a parking ticket.

  • Take photos
  • Get witness statements
  • Speak to the landowner / customer services in a store if possible
  • Use Google Street View to scope a car park for signs and machines if it is not possible for you to revisit it
  • Look for the signs

You can find out more here where I have a free template letter for you to use.

What are your thoughts on parking apps? Do you like them or loathe them?

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