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:




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.


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.


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'