Excel Parking: Mum's £100 penalty despite broken machine at Broomhill Rooftop, Sheffield

The firm said another machine was operational but the pair breached a 10-minute time rule when they paid by app
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A Sheffield parking firm has refused to cancel a £100 penalty despite a motorist being hit by a "series of bad events."

Excel Parking insists Gemma Rayne coughs up for breaking a rule giving drivers 10 minutes to buy a ticket at its site in Broomhill.

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She was visiting the Steel Cauldron, a Harry Potter-themed cafe, with a friend and their seven-year-old daughters. 

Gemma Raine has been hit with a £100 penalty for taking more than 10 minutes to pay.Gemma Raine has been hit with a £100 penalty for taking more than 10 minutes to pay.
Gemma Raine has been hit with a £100 penalty for taking more than 10 minutes to pay.

After finding a space they joined a queue of people waiting to use the machine, only to find it displaying a message to pay online, she says.

Her pal downloaded the app but found her card wouldn’t work due to an attempted fraud the day before. Gemma says she used her card to pay the £2 fee. But by then 21 minutes had passed, incurring - they later found out - a £60 charge.

Her appeals to Excel -  and the Independent Appeals Service -  were dismissed, but by then the penalty had increased to £100.

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Gemma says she paid for three hours in an attempt to overpay and cover their entire stay.

She added: "I tried to explain it was just a series of bad events. When we found the machine broken we decided to pay by app and stuck with it until it went through."

The 10-minute time rule is stated near the bottom of the sign at Broomhill Rooftop. The 10-minute time rule is stated near the bottom of the sign at Broomhill Rooftop.
The 10-minute time rule is stated near the bottom of the sign at Broomhill Rooftop.

We asked Excel Parking why it had a 10-minute payment rule. We asked whether it accepted it can take more than 10 minutes to park, queue at the machine, download the app, input bank details and pay. We also asked why the charge rose from £60 to £100 during the appeal period, when drivers are waiting to hear the outcome.

The Independent Appeals Service is operated by regulator International Parking Community. The IPC is funded by parking firms including Excel Parking.

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A representative for Excel Parking acknowledged the pay machine was broken on the day Gemma visited but said a second one was operational. And she could have phoned the firm’s helpline on the day to report her "alleged difficulties."

The representative said: "At the time of Miss Rayne’s visit to the Broomhill Roof Top Pay & Display Car Park, there were two primary options for customers to purchase the appropriate parking tariff; this could be done by cash (coins) using one of the onsite pay machines or by phone via a third party provider. The phone option provides for payment to be made via an ‘app' or online or by calling the advertised number.                                

"We acknowledge that one of the two pay machines was out of action (and marked as such) on the day due to repeated bouts of vandalism, nevertheless, one machine was operational. We have checked all payment transactions for the date of Miss Rayne’s visit and these show that payment transactions were regularly being made throughout the day which demonstrates that there were no apparent issues with the available methods of payment.

"At the Broomhill Roof Top Pay & Display Car Park car park we provide motorists 10 minutes to purchase the tariff from entering the car park to prevent fly parking. It took Miss Rayne more than double this time. Miss Rayne could have phoned our helpline number on the day to report the alleged difficulties she was having, but no such call was received. For these reasons, Miss Rayne’s appeal was rejected; she was provided with details of how to appeal, for free, to the Independent Appeals Service (the IAS) which she subsequently did, but her appeal was unsuccessful.

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"We remain satisfied that the parking charge was correctly issued, as ratified by the IAS."

The landlord at Broomhill Rooftop Parking is Philip Fisher LLP. Its accountant is Neville Newman, of Harris and Trotter, New Cavendish Street, London.

We asked Mr Newman whether Philip Fisher accepted the way Excel Parking runs Broomhill Rooftop might deter visitors, as some shopkeepers have claimed, but he did not reply.