Parking fine

Matthew Rotherham
Matthew Rotherham
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The ‘fine’ demanded by a parking firm for breaching its rules was equivalent to the cost of staying in its car park for 30 days – and Matthew Rotherham is refusing to pay.

He reckons a £60 bill is totally disproportionate when the daily rate is just £2, especially since it was an innocent mistake.

Matthew, aged 28, says the wind from his door slamming neatly flipped over his ticket on the dash. And that saw him ‘fined’ by LDK Group which controls the plot on Alma Street in Sheffield city centre, for failing to display his ticket.

Matthew appealed and sent a copy of the ticket. But it was rejected.

And now the £60 has been replaced by demands for £149 and the matter has been passed to a collection agency. Since then he’s received one letter a fortnight threatening legal action.

Matthew, of School Avenue, Halfway, said: “If I had parked without a ticket I would have no qualms about paying the fine but knowing it was an honest mistake I thought it was an unfair fine to pay.

“I’m happy to stand my ground on this as I find the original charge unfair, the letters harassing and the changes in fees not backed up.”

A spokeswoman for LDK Group insisted the charge stood. She said: “We appreciate he bought a ticket but we can’t validate how long his car was there for.

“There’s nothing we can do, it was driver error.

“If he doesn’t pay, the debt collectors we will look to take him to court.”

ACTION

But as regular readers of Action Desk know, private parking companies very rarely take anyone to court.

We asked LDK Group to send details of cases it had taken to court, but the spokeswoman refused.

Pay option

They are easy to set up but can be very difficult to cancel – and payday loan companies love them.

Continuous payment authorities can be set up over the phone on a debit or credit card. They allow firms to vary amounts and take money on dates of their choosing.

And all too often customers’ requests to cancel them are ignored.

Now, banks have agreed that a request to end a recurring payment will be sufficient to cancel, rather than the customer having to contact the merchant. Incorrect payments following cancellation will also be immediately refunded.

Banks are to review all complaints since November 2009 and award compensation to consumers whose payments continued despite them asking the bank to cancel.

Clive Adamson, the FCA’s director of supervision, said they had been working hard to improve everyday banking for the consumer.

“It’s important that consumers are confident that banks are meeting their everyday banking need.

Today customers can be confident that when they ask for a Continuous Payment Authority to be cancelled – it will be cancelled – and that it can be done easily.”

Money matter

Why give 30 per cent of your payout to a claims handler when you can keep all the money for yourself?

Phil Cameron received a £10,500 repayment for mis-sold payment protection insurance from the Halifax and all he did was send them a letter.

The 50-year-old from Doncaster took out a mortgage in 1989 and – following all the publicity about mis-selling – decided to check his original contract.

It included PPI at a cost of £15 a month, which in later years rose to £22 a month.

Phil wrote a letter to Halifax saying he felt the insurance had been mis-sold since he never asked for it – and the bank sent him a cheque for the full amount plus eight per cent interest.

He said: “I’d say to anyone to check their financial products. And deal with the bank direct.”

Nationally, payouts for mis-sold PPI have passed £10bn but are expected to hit £17bn.

By May this year – the latest date for which the FCA has provided figures – the total had reached £10.468 billion. Since the start of 2011, the cost of compensating customers who were mis-sold PPI products has raced ahead of banks’ initial estimates. Provisions against PPI payouts are now believed to total £17.9 billion, of which £15.1 billion has been set aside by the four major UK banks – Lloyds (£7.3 billion), Barclays (£4 billion), HSBC (£1.6 billion) and RBS (£2.2 billion). Nor is there any sign of the pace slowing down. Not only have average payouts per month stubbornly refused to fall, but also the average number of complaints is still high.

In April to June this year, the Financial Ombudsman Service received 132,152 PPI complaints, compared with 133,826 the quarter before, and a total of 378,669 for the full year to March 2013.

These figures represent complaints originally rejected by the bank – but 62 per cent of them are ultimately resolved in the customer’s favour, the Ombudsman said. The banks themselves also continue to receive massive numbers. In the first half of the year, Barclays said, it received 360,000 complaints, compared with 1.1 million in 2011 and 2012 combined.