‘Oldie’ takes $120 park­ing ticket to task

Eastern Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - AMANDA SAX­TON AND DILEEPA FONSEKA

An East Auck­land grand­mother has de­clared vic­tory over a park­ing com­pany fol­low­ing a pro­longed row over a park­ing ticket.

Eighty-year-old Pip Van Duyn says the first she had heard of the ticket was via a let­ter, six weeks af­ter the pri­vate com­pany ac­cused her of in­ap­pro­pri­ately park­ing in a dis­abled space out­side a South Auck­land med­i­cal cen­tre.

‘‘But I am al­ways care­ful to dis­play my mo­bil­ity sticker — and no, I have not been di­ag­nosed with alzheimers,’’ the Paku­ranga res­i­dent says.

Gor­don Ward, of sales and mar­ket­ing for Elite Park­ing Ser­vices, says they void half a dozen tick­ets ev­ery week for peo­ple who have mo­bil­ity passes but for­get to dis­play them and had no rea­son not to do so in Duyn’s case. ‘‘The el­derly, they con­sider them­selves hon­est-to-good­ness straight-up cit­i­zens, so when they get a ticket they get quite of­fended.’’

Van Duyn says she emailed Elite Park­ing Ser­vices ev­i­dence of her per­mit but more let­ters ar­rived an­nounc­ing that with late fees in­cluded her fine had jumped up to $120. She called the com- pany, but said she was told the photo ‘‘didn’t prove any­thing’’.

‘‘So I said ‘well, it proves I’ve got a mo­bil­ity sticker’ and that surely this fine is un­fair.’’

Ward says the in­creased fines were pro­cessed au­to­mat­i­cally.

The first cor­re­spon­dence they re­ceived from Van Duyn in re­ply was a phys­i­cal let­ter from her dated Septem­ber 29 where she com­plained an email with a copy of her mo­bil­ity ticket at­tached, had failed. By that time an­other let­ter in­creas­ing the fine was al­ready on its way to Van Duyn.

The ticket was voided af­ter they re­ceived her let­ter in the mail but Ward ad­mits they should have posted a re­ply con­firm­ing this.

Van Duyn says she felt ‘‘rather anx­ious for a few weeks’’ af­ter she was given no­tice of the fine and while she didn’t want to pay what she con­sid­ered an un­just fine, she also didn’t want to get into fur­ther trou­ble.

She had re­ceived a ticket from a dif­fer­ent com­pany for not dis­play­ing her per­mit ‘‘be­cause it had slipped out of view’’.

‘‘That time they stuck a ticket un­der my wind­screen wipers, like nor­mal, and when I ex­plained the sit­u­a­tion and sent them a photo they waived the fine,’’ she says.

Van Duyn says she first got the sticker, which lets hold­ers use spe­cially marked wider car parks, years ago when her ‘‘first knee went dodgy’’. She now has two dodgy knees and uses a cane.

In the end, Van Duyn con­tacted the me­dia. ‘‘Any­body that knows me knows I don’t give in easy,’’ she says.

Van Duyn had been wor­ried the com­pany might be pick­ing on her be­cause her ad­vanced age made her an easy tar­get.

‘‘So my ad­vice is: Don’t take on an oldie just be­cause they’re old,’’ she says.

Ward says mo­bil­ity cards aren’t linked to li­cence plates and if they aren’t dis­played there’s no way to tell if a driver is mo­bil­i­ty­im­paired. ‘‘We’re not so des­per­ate for cash that we need to chase peo­ple for cash for the wrong rea­sons.’’

SUP­PLIED

Pip Van Duyn re­fused to pay the $120 fine a park­ing com­pany slapped her with be­cause it struck her as un­fair.

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