Readers’ emails: Ignored Excel ticket
Subject: excell/newlyn fine
Help! My husband got a £60 parking fine.he went in a pay and display on Saturday 18 Jan.thought was free at weekends.we ignored this as that seemed to be the advice.. Then got another from them for £100..again ignored it..we now have a letter from newlyn debt collection agancy wanting £166..saying been instucted by excell.it also says must contact them direct and not exvell..rather scared now and font know what to do..if it just keeps going up an we end up having to pay,don’t know what we will..should we pay £166 now? Would appreciate any advice. Thank you. (sic)
Before October 2012, the typical advice given by internet forums was to ignore private parking tickets. After that date (when the Protection of Freedoms Act was introduced), the behaviour of private parking companies started to change, and so the advice given on internet forums has also changed. Unfortunately, when people do searches about parking tickets today they dredge up old forum threads, or they get advice from people with out-of-date knowledge. Currently, the typical advice is to engage with the appeal process since there are known methods that can be used to win almost every time. However, since you have ignored and gone down that road, this is all largely irrelevant to you now.
Parking companies have always sent threatening letters (before and after the Protection of Freedoms Act) which contained threatening terms, increasing costs, and worst of all – the dreaded red ink! The idea is to intimidate you into paying, and by the sounds of your email, it is working on you.
To put your mind at rest to some extent, Newlyn are a debt collector. They are not bailiffs, and have no more power the demand money from you than Excel do. They can make up whatever figures they like in their letters, but it has no legal standing. Only a court can decide how much you owe (if anything), and that tends to vary depending on the case and how it’s presented. You can get them off your back by sending a debt denied letter, and they will then need to refer the debt back to Excel. I’ve written about this at length here.
This is not to say there is no debt at all – as you say in your email, you parked in a pay and display car park without paying. So you probably owe them a few pounds for that. However, the ‘fine’ of £60 is clearly disproportionate to the loss you have caused them, let alone the £166 that is being demanded.
In my opinion, you now have three options:
- Pay them
- Continue to ignore, and wait to see if they attempt court
- Reimburse them for their loss, plus reasonable expenses
Obviously paying them is an option – it will get them off your back. However, £166 is a lot of money, and this is at the higher end of what courts award if it goes that far and the parking companies win – as a result it’s arguably nonsensical to pay that without being compelled to by a court.
Alternatively you could continue to ignore. As I said above, Newlyn have no special powers – their business is to intimidate you into paying. However, you should bear in mind that occasionally parking companies such as Excel attempt to enforce tickets in court. Experience has shown mixed success for them – it very much depends how well the case is defended. The key point here is that if they do go to court, the rules of the small claims court mean that costs are limited. From the anecdotal evidence I have seen, I wouldn’t expect an award much in excess of the £166 if it got that far and the court found for them. You should also bear in mind that it will probably cost Excel more to take you to court than they could possibly recover. Their reason for doing it is to give the impression that parking companies will go to any length to recover money.
The last option is to reimburse them for their loss, plus possibly offer them some compensation for their costs so far (e.g. cost of getting your details, postage etc). The benefit of taking this approach is that it creates an audit trail of reasonableness on your behalf, which ignoring does not. If you offered them, say, £20 or £30 compensation for an actual loss of, say, £2, then a judge may later consider it unreasonable for them to continue to court in an attempt to recover £60 or £166, using up valuable court time for a very minor matter. The downside of this approach is that you enter into correspondence with them, in the process acknowledging that you do owe them money, and you are taking them seriously (a hooked fish). If you do take the latter approach you would be wise to get some advice on the internet forums on how to word your letter so as to minimise the risks.
At the end of the day, its your choice.
Best of luck, PC.