Saturday, 15 March 2008

Invoice that Appears to be a Fine

The blog entry is a little different from the usual.

Today a group of people left a firm's premises north of Grimsby at about 13:55 and where the car was left it is about five minutes walk and drive to the car park at Halfords and B & Q in Grimsby, somewhat off the centre of town.

The car was thus parked outside Halfords and I went into Halfords. I looked at their car wash and it was too expensive - some £9 whereas I've seen a lower price. So I did not buy. I also looked at baby car seats, only because they had been a topic of conversation with friends.

When I came out of Halfords I looked at a car parking notice, and read that there is a two hour limit to parking. I did know this as I have told my wife on a number of times to be back at the car within two hours. Few cars seemed to be about at all. I decided to walk off the premises. After everything the car left the car park at 15:48, well within the two hours that the notices stated.

However, on getting back to the car there was what looked like a parking ticket on the windscreen. It says:

PARKING NOTICE
ENCLOSED

WARNING

IT IS AN OFFENCE FOR ANY PERSON
OTHER THAN THE DRIVER TO
REMOVE THIS NOTICE


Is it? It is more likely to be an offence for anyone to put it on my car. I am indeed the registered keeper.

At this point I went into Halfords. The assistant asked if I had bought anything in the store because, normally they would waive the charge if I had bought something. She said the situation had changed from before and now you cannot leave the car park. She said there were "overstickers" on the notices. Interestingly there is a footpath to the car park from elsewhere and no notice that you cannot leave. I looked up to the large parking sign and saw a sticker on top that said in effect that people cannot leave the premises, but I had not seen this on the smaller similar notice I had read. Presumably reading one notice is enough.

So for walking off I have received this, a carbon copy slip in a yellow and black fronted pouch like local authority parking authorities use in the street:

Your vehicle was found to be parked within an unauthorised area at:

[Entered in carbon tracing:] B + Q Halfords Grimsby

and in contravention of parking control measures in place at the time.

CONTRAVENTION:

Vehicle owner left site [and a carbon tracing:] X

In a black box in pen is written:

observed walking offsite towards town.

Well I could have been walking anywhere as far as he is concerned.

From memory the charge is £45 if paid within two weeks and £90 afterwards. Yes, but this is not a fine. It is an invoice. It (without saying) purports to be of a contract, but it is not a contract if the signage is poor, and may not be anyway because I would not enter into one where I would as the car's keeper have accepted such a payment for walking out. I would have gone elsewhere.

The only recourse they have is damages, and I did notice that the car park near Halfords was virtually empty (one reason why I found a sign to read - perhaps it was an hour only and no one now bothered to park and walk off, though before leaving I saw two groups of people walking towards the car park).

When home I rang around and this included the Assistant Manager of Halfords. I told him what the assistant had said, and what I was doing but that I was not going to purchase at that price. I told him I had read a notice before going off the property. He said the car park was not Halfords' but owned by B & Q and that the parking arrangement was arranged by B & Q. They are further south on the eastern side. I also rang B & Q but the woman answering said the car park is not owned by B & Q and was able very quickly to give me a number for UKPC Ltd. (and indeed there was a reply this time). I told the woman at UKPC Ltd. that this was not a matter of appeals procedures indicated by a coming letter but would be contractual and that this would have to be decided in a court.

Indeed, I am not paying. UKPC Ltd are acting as agents either for B & Q or Halfords or for an agent for these retail firms. Whatever, these firms are the beneficiaries of the car park and a policy applied to the car park by UKPC Ltd.

As regards these retail firms, I shall apply to them what I have regarding Currys for many years now. Because of Currys' returns policy, when they refused to immediately take back a CD player that had no headphones socket and yet was not faulty, I have since never even considered buying anything from Currys. Whenever anyone asks me about Currys, I tell them my experience. When I heard it was in trouble recently, I gave myself a little cheer. Similarly, for all the days of my life I shall never buy anything from either Halfords or B & Q again. Not ever.

I have already decided to seek legal representation and contact others of influence. As I write this I have already sent a message to B & Q.

To cut many possible points short, this has to go to court. It must be for a court to decide whether or not this is a reasonable invoice for me leaving the premises for under the two hours stated on notices and for which extra conditions have been placed, on a notice, by an oversticker. The court, not UKPC Ltd., must decide any schedule of payment should I be liable to any damages at all, if there was any contract at all that I may have entered and understood. Plus I will counterclaim for any harassment that takes place either from them or anyone else they employ and any beneficiaries of the car park.

So now I must continue this early correspondence.

Comments are welcome of course. There may even be some readers who come here searching on private car park parking tickets or such the like. I am happy to share what I already know and how to proceed.

3 comments:

Saintly Ramblings said...

I would get back and take photos of the sign without the oversticker, so that you have proof there was a way out of the car park which did not have a notice.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I'll be in Grimsby Monday and busy with the camera.

Paul said...

I have today had a similar experience but this time in Plymouth.
I checked the signage before hand which read along the lines of 'free for upto 4 hours for users of the park'. We did leave the park but nowhere did it say visitors were not to leave.
Later on (but well within the 4 hours) after leaving the cinema we had an identical 'Notification'.
A little research highlighted this blog and one for 'Which?' Legal Service. It suggested sending a cheque to UKPC but asking them not to cash it until seeking further legal advice. Go read it - he got his money back!
I will be following the advice too. No use to you by now I guess but may be of use to future 'contraveners'