Secret cancellation clauses
When signing up with a private parking company to manage their land, often contracts include the right for the landowner to cancel tickets. So for example, if a genuine shopper complained to the store manager, the store manager could arrange for the ticket to be cancelled. Some contracts have a ‘genuine shopper clause’; in this case, if you are issued a ticket and can provide evidence you were a genuine shopper (e.g. a receipt) then the parking company will cancel the ticket. ParkingEye contracts with Morrisons supermarket are known to often include such clauses.
Whilst this is obviously good news for those that find out about it, it is clearly unfair. Nobody would know that such allowance exist if they complain to either the parking company or the store – and not everyone would complain. This is not because they’re not upset or angry, but some personality types cannot bear conflict or too introverted to speak up. This particularly affects the vulnerable people within our society – often those who such a ticket would affect the most.
Further it actually demonstrates the system put in place (typically using automatic number plate recognition, ANPR, to issue tickets for overstaying) is not fit for purpose. If the system was not designed to entrap motorists, why don’t the openly advertise the cancellation clause on the signage, and in letters sent to motorists requesting payment? It is simply a money making game.
From a legal perspective this practice may be considered unlawful. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 prohibits misleading omissions from consumer contracts (section 6(1)). It is arguable that by omiting or hiding material information from the signage about these clauses, it could fall foul of the law. Had the motorists known about this, they may have been able to avoid the parking charge by having it cancelled by the store.
So, if you receive a private parking ticket you should try and find out whether such clauses exist to get your ticket cancelled. Firstly contact the landowner (e.g. store manager if it is a supermarket) and ask them to cancel the ticket. Secondly, contact the parking company and tell them you were a genuine shopper. If these approaches fail, then you will need to appeal – have a look at our appeal guide.