Park­ing ticket penalty fee sparks row


A Welling­ton man says he was bul­lied by a ‘‘money goug­ing’’ park­ing company af­ter he con­tested its penalty fees over an un­paid ticket.

But Val­ley Park­ing has re­jected the com­plaints as ‘‘in­sult­ing and ab­struse’’, and said the fam­ily should not have ig­nored the ini­tial ticket.

Phar­ma­cist Ant Si­mon ac­cepts his son should have paid a $65 ticket for fail­ing to pay and dis­play in Welling­ton, last month.

But the fam­ily were then billed for an ad­di­tional $45 ‘‘late fee’’ by Val­ley Park­ing Ser­vices and, when they queried that, they were told they would face an ex­tra $80 ad­min fee and the car could be put on a tow­ing reg­is­ter.

They ques­tioned the $45 late fee af­ter read­ing ad­vice from Con­sumer NZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Sue Chetwin, urg­ing peo­ple to challenge park­ing fees if they felt they were un­fair.

‘‘It’s ab­so­lutely bul­ly­ing,’’ Si­mon said. ‘‘A young guy gets a ticket ... and all of a sud­den he’s ha­rassed by these peo­ple and put in a pretty un­pleas­ant sit­u­a­tion through these guys’ tac­tics.

‘‘It’s al­most like loan shark ter­ri­tory – where peo­ple get them­selves into a spot of bother and they just end up dig­ging them­selves into a deeper hole.’’

The fam­ily ad­mit not pay­ing the first ticket, be­liev­ing it did not look le­git­i­mate. Six weeks later, they were told of the ex­tra $45 late fee.

They paid the $65 but, when they chal­lenged the late fee, they were told debt col­lec­tors Bay­corp could be­come in­volved, and the car could be towed with­out warn­ing to re­cover any out­stand­ing debt.

‘‘If you had $110, plus $80, plus Bay­corp – what­ever they add on – plus if they’re threat­en­ing to tow you that’s an­other $400 ... it adds up,’’ Si­mon said.

On Fri­day morn­ing, he paid the $45 late fee, but re­mained up­set at Val­ley Park­ing’s at­ti­tude, be­liev­ing a re­minder no­tice, rather than ad­di­tional fees and threats, would have suf­ficed.

Val­ley Park­ing Ser­vices said it be­lieved its charges to be fair and rea­son­able.

The ticket clearly stated that un­paid ac­counts would in­cur late pay­ment fees and col­lec­tion costs, a spokesper­son said.

‘‘You re­ally summed up the at­ti­tude of this per­son when you de­scribed ‘he ig­nored it’ [the ticket].

‘‘I’m sure it wouldn’t have been ig­nored had his ve­hi­cle been towed.

‘‘We are try­ing to go down the path of is­su­ing park­ing breach in­voices, rather than more con­ven­tional meth­ods [such as tow­ing], but it ap­pears we still bear the brunt of those that be­lieve they are above the rules ev­ery­one else has to fol­low.’’

Track­ing down a non-pay­ing of­fender came at a cost, and the Dis­putes Tri­bunal con­sid­ered $45 to be fair and rea­son­able, the spokesper­son said.

Chetwin said that, although she found the ac­cu­mu­lat­ing costs ex­ces­sive, the fam­ily should have con­tacted the company to challenge the ticket, rather than ig­nor­ing it.

‘‘The fair­ness works both ways.’’

‘‘It's al­most like loan shark ter­ri­tory – where peo­ple get them­selves into a spot of bother and they just end up dig­ging them­selves into a deeper hole.’’

The ticket for fail­ing to pay and dis­play.

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