Excel Parking ends secret time rule that caught out drivers at Berkeley Centre in Sheffield

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Excel Parking has abandoned a secret time rule that caught out drivers in Sheffield for years.

After pressure from The Star, the Tinsley-based firm has put up signs stating customers now have 10 mins to pay at Berkeley Centre on Ecclesall Road. Previously they said simply 'on arrival'. Unsuspecting motorists would regularly breach the deadline as they searched for a space, parked, downloaded the app and created an account, or bought something in a shop to get change.

The first hour at the popular site is free. Payment is required for the second hour but must be paid within the – previously secret – 10-minute window.

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Greg Stringer was fined after he spent 22 minutes attempting to pay by app, by phone and online, and when this proved too difficult he withdrew cash from a machine and spent it in a shop to get change.

Mr Stringer said Excel makes it “as difficult as possible to pay” and the notice board setting out terms and conditions is a “ludicrously over-written mess.”

He added: “What’s really telling is that even in Excel’s correspondence with me they don’t spell out what the time limit is. No wonder motorists fall foul of ‘rules’ they don’t know about. It’s almost as if they intended to frustrate the driver’s attempts to pay and so incur a charge.”

In correspondence with him, Excel said 'on arrival' meant within a 'reasonable amount of time’. But updated signs have now appeared at the site.

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Excel initially demands £60 for non-payment – more than double Sheffield City Council - rising to £175, with threats of court and debt collectors.

The government is due to launch an independent appeals service to clampdown on 'rogue parking firms'.

A representative for Excel Parking Services Ltd said: “The signage clearly states the parking tariff should be purchased ‘on arrival’. In context of the size of the car park and the maximum parking period of two hours, we regard 10 minutes as a reasonable period of time to comply with the terms and conditions.

“Whilst Mr Stringer claims that he had problems in purchasing the tariff, 22 minutes is a considerable period of time to complete it. He did not attempt to contact our advertised helpline number on the day to explain his difficulties.

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“Whilst there is an exceptionally high rate of motorists who conform with the terms and conditions, we updated our signs on 16 March 2023; these now specify that the tariff must be purchased within 10 minutes of arrival.

“We did not receive an appeal from Mr Stringer within the prescribed timescale which was clearly set out on the Parking Charge Notice he received. However, when the Sheffield Star contacted us on 17 May 2023 we noted that Mr Stringer had contacted them on 14 February 2023 and in that correspondence he made reference to the ‘Star taking up matters on his behalf’ and also stated that he had also appealed to us.

“We are surprised that it has taken over three months for the Sheffield Star to contact us. Furthermore, we have no trace of a receiving the alleged appeal from Mr Stringer and, despite a reasonable request for the evidence of that appeal to be supplied so that we can review the matter further, nothing has yet been forthcoming.”