Readers’ emails: ParkingEye ticket machine broken

From: Tony
Subject: Parking Fine
On June 16th I entered a Parking Eye run car park.

I attempted to pay for the 2 hours I was expected to stay for work, but was unable to due to the machines not accepting cash payment. I stayed for a total of 11 minutes whilst trying to locate other machines and seek advice from a nearby traffic warden, but had no other option other than to park in a nearby car park.

Since then I have a series of letters, one stating my appeal was rejected even though I explained THEIR machines weren’t working and therefore I was unable to pay for my stay.

I therefore refuse to pay a fine for a stay I was willing to pay for ( I have proof I went to another CP straight away so my stay was incomplete at their CP)

I’ve been told to ignore the letters but they state the next step is a county court claim..

Any advice will be gratefully accepted.

Tony

Hi Tony, unfortunately this is the sort of story we hear all too often; appeals being rejected out of hand despite the motorist having genuine reasons. In your case it would appear that they are the ones at fault, making the ‘fine’ even more galling.

It’s not clear from your email whether you have attempted to appeal to POPLA, the BPA Ltd’s  independent appeals service. If they haven’t provided a code in their rejection, demand one. If they have provided a code, then check it’s still valid using our POPLA code checker; they’re only valid for a limited period of time. If you can appeal to POPLA, then you can use arguments such as genuine pre-estimate of loss to almost guarantee a win at POPLA. In your appeal do cite the machine not working, but it’s not a certainty that the assessor will uphold it – the assessors have been known to make strange decisions. If you have multiple appeal points, the assessor only has to find one in your favour for you to win.

If you cannot appeal, then it will be a case of wait and see. ParkingEye have become very litigious over the past couple of years, issuing thousands of claims. This strategy seems to work quite well for them since motorists often crumble and pay when faced with official court documents. However, those who do their research and fight back have had a lot of success. There have been so many claims that there are even guides on Amazon about how to fight them.

If it did go to court, then I would imagine you would have a good chance of defending the claim. If the machines were out of order, then even if the court did find you had formed a contract, it is arguable that the contract was frustrated; you could not uphold your end of the bargain (paying) because the facilities did not allow it. The court would have to decide on the balance of probabilities that that was the case. Since you have evidence you parked at another nearby car park shortly after, that would seem to support your argument.

The BPA Code of Practice also requires that operators allow a period of grace before ticketing a vehicle. Bizarrely, the BPA do not specify what a minimum grace period should be, leaving it ambiguous which helps nobody. To me, and hopefully a court, 11 minutes seems like a reasonable period of grace, especially if they find that the machines weren’t working. There have been cases before where parking operators have lost at court on this point.

A final strategy might be to pre-empt any court action by making  a fuss. You could try complaining to the land owner, or the shop (if it were for a specific shop) – they may be able to get ParkingEye to cancel. You could also try the local paper. The negative publicity may shame ParkingEye into cancelling the ticket, but at the very least it will help expose them for issuing such unfair tickets.

Hope this helps and best of luck with it.

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