Friends on Tuesday night saw the notice that looks like a parking ticket, and the crime of walking off the car park. They were clear that this firm, UK Parking Control Ltd. will have thought of everything, and in any case they will pass it on to a debt collecting agency and then you've got the credit rating to contend with that they will undermine. One friend, a shop manager for some years, said the car park will be owned by the property company, and who knows the connections between the companies. It is like a gamble and whether to take them on in civil law. Furthermore the arguments in court could become entangled - that a car park is nearly empty could be a benefit to customers who do not walk off the car park.
On the websites there are people who have had a victory even over UKPC and told the debt recovery agency to cease and desist from their activities - a key element is that the driver not the vehicle owner is the focus of civil action, and yet via the DVLA this operation targets the registered keeper. This is because the driver comes on to the car park. I may have indicated I was the driver.
I stayed in for the morning to go to Barton later, and pick up the post (it is late here - usual crap service). The document duly arrived, and extraordinary it is. It does not even detail the supposed transgression, and the photographic evidence shows only the presence of the car. My mistake, I suppose, was to come out of Halfords at Grimsby and go to the car before walking off. Had I walked off directly from the store the photo evidence (I presume exists - but not from this alone) would not have linked me directly to the car. Though, being transparent, my photo identity is all over the Internet.
Well, I took my friends' joint advice with one exception - I went to the solicitor's. What I wanted was the solicitor to show some eagerness in taking the matter on. Is it true, as some say, that when pressed the likes of UKPC Ltd. never go to court because they cannot sustain the actual requirements of contract law? The receptionist took the document to him, around the corner. He said only via her that he had a special interest, because he had been caught by one. But this was not what I wanted to hear, and to hear more would have cost just under £30. For him to do something would have cost more (though I might have done the rest).
Clearly he had a problem and it was a case to take on and discover. That was not good enough. A case that, if pressed far enough, will win is one a solicitor would take on. I thought there and then the solicitor can fight his battle - and I hope he wins and makes good. Me, I neither have the playing skills nor the number of chips to play this effectively. This is not an issue I wanted to be a martyr over. It is not simply a case of the hassle, but the outcome at the end of the hassle.
Some months ago my friend, the shop man, bought some petrol and fumed at it being faster on the money wheel than the litre wheel. It cost a huge amount to fill his vehicle. As a result he went on about it in the vehicle and went past a speed camera in Stoneferry Road and took the cost of a class about speeding on the chin. Thus it was a very expensive tank of petrol. I so very nearly did the same thing, though I was under 35 when I saw the speedometer at the last minute and pushed the brake. By the way, in that direction, the camera is after the hazard and not before, and is partly concealed on approach.
In my little Easter I have decided to take this racketeering on the chin, and yes they have profited on the thinnest of grounds. My other friend commented that I go around with such honesty (steady on) and yet got caught with this.
Meanwhile all that is left is a lifetime ban from me on B & Q and Halfords; I shall never go in their stores again. I cannot think of how many outside replacement powerlights I have bought at B & Q, light bulbs and other fittings for indoors and out. I've browsed and bought. I've only not bought things at Halfords because the store is expensive, but an advert came on TV this evening for them and a sale and my reaction was - "Not in a thousand years, not ever." They join Currys, a firm I have ignored for years. Once I was looking for DVD players and there I was in Lakeside, Scunthorpe, where they have a store. I did not go in. Nor will I ever again for Halfords and B &Q.
UKPC Ltd. exist to make a profit. No doubt they go around the unregulated private car parks advertising their services providing workers with cameras. There is a Staples store in Grimsby, and they are there at that car park (other stores there too). I don't think I'll be going in there with a vehicle - the documentation sent to me was so thin they could make it up. Walking off is not prevented there, but it is £170 if you stay more than two hours and at that rate I'd want to be out in five minutes - but I would not trust them anyway as it gets harder for them to make money on transgressions.
The first moral of the story is, first, read the signs carefully. Go to a place where the car park is owned by the store and there is one store for the one car park and they manage it themselves. Better still, go to one where you pay something and either pay something or get the money back on a low amount purchase - then there is a deal involved, and you have at least recognised who is the owner.
The other moral of this story is that, starting with Thatcher and continuing under Blair, this society has turned from being one of a kind of one of basic individual liberty to a surveillance society. Now every private and public outfit is watching what you are doing and trying to cash in. Racketeering joins stealth taxation. The more they watch you, the more you end up watching them. Cameras and people in uniforms, public and private, are everywhere.