How to complain
If you feel you have been subjected to unfair practices by parking companies, we recommend you make a complaint. Why? Quite simply because if you do not then nobody will know. Whilst you may feel that your individual complaint will not result in anything, if enough people complain, then it will become difficult to ignore.
So, who should you complain to?
British Parking Association Ltd
If the parking company you are complaining about is a member of the BPA Ltd, then you should make a complaint to them. As one of the DVLA’s Accredited Trade Associations they have a responsibility to make sure their members are operating according to their Code of Practice. If they are found not to be, then the BPA may issue points under their sanction scheme. If a company accumulates 12 points in a 12 month period, then its membership will be reviewed by the BPA at a disciplinary hearing. The BPA publish sanctions point awards on their website, although since the parking companies’ names are not revealed nor running totals provided, it is of little value or reassurance to the public.
It should be noted that since the BPA Ltd is funded by its members there is a conflict of interest in it punishing its membership. There is anecdotal evidence that complaints have not been dealt with as severely as one might expect. None the less, if you have a complaint about a member, then you should make a complaint to the BPA.
Independent Parking Committee Ltd
The IPC Ltd are the other Accredited Trade Association for the private parking industry, established in late 2013. Similarly, they also have a Code of Practice that their members are required to follow.
POPLA is the Independent Appeals Service for BPA Ltd member operators. POPLA do not accept complaints about disagreements with the outcome of an appeal. However, if you are concerned that your appeal has not been heard fairly then you should contact them to ask the Lead Adjudicator to review the case. Examples might be if the outcome of the appeal was inconsistent with other appeals in the public domain, or if you have not been sent copies of evidence from the parking company.
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
The DVLA is the Government department responsible for accrediting the parking industry ATAs and, importantly, providing access to their database of registered keepers. The DVLA have a duty of care to the motorist since they are allowing these companies access to your data. Access to your data is dependent on the operators following their respective Code of Practice. If, demonstrably, they are not following the Code of Practice, then arguably they should not be allowed access to keeper data, and so you should call this out to the DVLA.
Experience shows that the DVLA often delegate complaints to the respective ATA, rather than deal with them themselves. However, you should complain to the DVLA in the first instance so that they get an understanding of the number and severity of complaints being made.
Further, if you do not feel the BPA Ltd or IPC Ltd are fulfilling their duties by enforcing their Codes of Practice properly, you should make a complaint about them.
Information Commissioner’s Office
The ICO is the Government’s department responsible for information rights in the UK. As such, they are responsible for the Data Protection Act – for example, protection of your data in the registered keeper database. If you feel your data has been misused (e.g. released to an operator who has not met their obligation to follow their Code of Practice), then you should complain to the ICO.
Link: ICO complaints page