Consumer advice charity has evidence parking firms are hounding motorists for spurious debt
Private parking firms in Scotland are hounding vehicle owners for outstanding tickets by passing their details on to debt collection agencies, a charity has warned.
Citizens Advice Scotland, which has been campaigning for years on how private parking companies often charge consumers unfairly, says it has evidence increasing numbers of Scottish car owners are being threatened with court action.
Often spurious charges are incurred when vehicles park on private premises, although a number of recent cases has cast doubt on whether these charges have any legal recourse.
The charity said that in the first six months of this financial year nearly 20 Scots came to the Citizens Advice Service every day seeking advice about parking tickets - more than ever before.
This new tactic comes after a recent court case on the issue, and amid the launch of a lawsuit against the DVLA for releasing peoples’ personal details to parking firms.
Self-regulation in the industry is not working - Fraser Sutherland
The letters demand payment for tickets sometimes in excess of £100.
Yet £100 is the maximum that the two industry bodies - the British Parking Authority and Independent Parking Committee - say is allowed to be charged.
The letters go on to say if payment is not made the company will “recommend to the creditor that court action should be taken to recover what you owe.”
CAS consumer spokesman Fraser Sutherland said: “It’s important that drivers check signage when parking to know their rights and responsibilities while using that car park.
"However recent debt collection letters obtained by CAS show that fees in excess of £100 are being demanded. This is in clear breach of the parking industry’s own self-regulation code.
“These examples are more evidence that self-regulation in the industry is not working, and that many car-parking firms are flouting their own regulations with a gung-ho attitude of simply collecting as much as possible from drivers.
“Citizens Advice Scotland will continue our campaign for better controls on private parking companies to ensure that they comply with consumer protection regulations. We also urge consumers to contact us for advice if they feel they have been unfairly treated by a private car-park or if they have received one of these debt collection letters.”