The People - - NEWS FEATURES & - By Stephen Hay­ward CON­SUMER COR­RE­SPON­DENT by

GREEDY park­ing firms are hit­ting mo­torists with “pro­cess­ing” fees – on top of their rip off fines.

The ad­min charges are salt in the wound for driv­ers fac­ing typ­i­cal penal­ties of £60 to £100 for over­stay­ing in pri­vately-run car parks.

Euro Car Parks charges £1.50 to pay on­line and £ 2.50 for han­dling a cheque. CP Plus au­to­mat­i­cally adds a £1.50 “trans- ac­tion” fee, while Park­ing Eye charges driv­ers for credit card pay­ments – say­ing it is nec­es­sary to cover its busi­ness costs.

The RAC says park­ing com­pa­nies are buy­ing de­tails of more than 19,000 ve­hi­cles a day from the DVLA to chase own­ers who fail to pay fines.

Euro Car Parks, whose clients in­clude hos­pi­tals, su­per­mar­kets and shop­ping cen­tres, ob­tained 118,000 DVLA records between But Rita has been through far worse. She was in and out of hos­pi­tal for four weeks af­ter the girls’ birth due to heavy bleed­ing be­cause one of the pla­cen­tas was still in­side her. Then, when Maiya was five months old, doc­tors found she was pro­foundly deaf. The young­ster now has a cochlear im­plant in her right ear and a hear­ing aid in her left. “But if you met Maiya now, you’d never know,” says her mum. Rita, who was di­ag­nosed with ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive dis­or­der at 14, suf­fered acute anx­i­ety af­ter the twins’ births. She said: ‘Now I’m pa­tron of a char­ity called No Panic and I do phone coun­selling help­ing peo­ple I don’t know to deal with their anx­i­ety at­tacks. “The first thing I rec­om­mend is ex­er­cise to burn off all that sur­plus adren­a­line. And then I sug­gest med­i­ta­tion.” FOR tour dates see www. legally­blon­de­the­mu­si­ April and June. Mar­tyn James, of the con­sumer com­plaint web­site Re­solver, said: “If you’ve been hit by a pri­vate park­ing charge, it’s hard enough to swal­low, with­out be­ing hit by yet more charges for the ‘priv­i­lege’ of pay­ing it off.

“It’s un­fair and high­lights why stronger reg­u­la­tion is needed.

“With au­to­matic pay­ment sys­tems, it’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly hard for any busi­ness to ar­gue that ad­min­is­tra­tion charges are justi- fied. It’s time to end this add on rip-off cul­ture.”

The num­ber of driv­ers fined up to £100 rose al­most two-thirds in a year. The RAC has backed calls by Tory MP Sir Greg Knight for a statu­tory code that would bar any rogue firms from ac­cess­ing the DLVA records data­base.

The Bri­tish Park­ing As­so­ci­a­tion said not all op­er­a­tors ap­ply a fee – and credit card surcharges would be banned from next Jan­uary.

WET WED­DING: Roxy and Ron­nie hours be­fore their pool drown­ing

CASH COW: Pri­vate car park

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