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back to article Prankster 'Superhero' takes on robot traffic warden AND WINS

A blogger claiming to have superpowers has exposed a flaw in a parking company's vehicle recognition system which could see innocent drivers wrongly hit with fines. Going under the name Parking Prankster, the activist set out to discover whether he could trick automated systems used by private parking companies into issuing him …

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What would be REALLY good to do is try this twice with two Car Parks managed by the same company in one day. Get yourself issued with two notices for two different car parks at the same time.

I'd LOVE to see them try and defend that one :)

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My superpower is being in TWO places at once. (Or possibly evidence of time travel.)

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Get yourself issued with two notices for two different car parks at the same time

Makes no difference,

I've been to court and received 6 penalty points for going through a speeding camera in Watford and Hull within 15 minutes of each other.

Lent my car to someone who did the deed in Watford then buggered off home (Bloody Aussies), at the same time I was driving the company car through what I thought was a 50 zone that turned out to be a 40 in Hull.

If the courts upheld me being guilty on this then what chance them giving a flying **** about parking tickets?

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Joke

"I've received penalty points for speeding in Watford and Hull within 15 minutes of each other"

Dear God, man, how fast were you going?

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Re: Get yourself issued with two notices for two different car parks at the same time

Thats not the same thing at all.

You got tickets for 2 seperate vehicles breaking the law, in the case where a driver can not be identified the owner of the vehicle is charged instead.

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"..going through a speeding camera in Watford and Hull within 15 minutes of each other."

You are Chris Huhne and I claim my £100

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "..going through a speeding camera in Watford and Hull within 15 minutes of each other."

How about getting a speeding ticket for a car you've never even seen, let alone owned?

Garage registered a car I was looking to buy, before I'd even seen it, SWMBO saw it first, full of scratches and dents and told them where to stick it. Week later the V5 drops through my door, and was very quickly returned to the DVLA with a covering letter.

Meanwhile, the car had been sold to some poor unsuspecting sod who went through a speed camera, and the ticket came my way.

Fortunately, the issuing police force accepted my explanation, helped by the DVLA letter confirming I wasn't the owner.

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Re: Get yourself issued with two notices for two different car parks at the same time

Not quite. It is incumbent upon the registered keeper to identify the driver by return (Section 172 statement).

The problem here is that "The driver was Mr ${name} who lives in ${country}, here are some sketchy contact details" is the oldest scam in the book. Using that one results in your taking on a system that is convinced you are lying through your teeth.

I can't quite see how this ended up as getting done for speeding twice. It should either have ended up as the OP getting done for speeding in Hull and ${Aussie_bloke} getting done for Watford, or for the OP getting done for Hull and either failing to identify the driver[1], attempting to pervert the course of justice[2], or both[3] for Watford.

[1] Nasty.

[2] Very nasty.

[3] There goes the book.....

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Re: "I've received penalty points for speeding in Watford and Hull within 15 minutes of each other"

<blockquote>Dear God, man, how fast were you going?</blockquote>

About <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=distance+between+watford+and+hull&meta=">800mph</a>.

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"My car's been cloned"

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Re: Get yourself issued with two notices for two different car parks at the same time

Presumably the Aussie wasn't insured, either.

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Re: Dear God, man, how fast were you going?

Obviously not fast enough. Both cameras got him.

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Devil

@TeeCee Re: Get yourself issued with two notices for two different car parks at the same time

No you can't be "done" for attempting to pervert the course of justice if you tell the truth, because the burden is on the prosecution to prove their claims to an extremely high level of certainty (i.e. "beyond a reasonable doubt"), not on you to prove your innocence - Woolmington v DPP (the famous "golden thread running through the criminal law"). Given your claim is true, the prosecution cannot prove it is not. If law enforcement agencies don't have the means of distinguishing such cases from those in which an individual is being dishonest, the principle of habeas corpus tells us that's a problem for the agency (and society) but not the defendant.

However in this instance, insurance policies are all centrally recorded: there would be a record of the Aussie's insurance for the period concerned. If they didn't have insurance, an affidavit would suffice. Car icon for obv reasons lol

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Re: @TeeCee Get yourself issued with two notices for two different car parks at the same time

[[Given your claim is true, the prosecution cannot prove it is not.]]

I believe you are confusing innocence with evidence. One is significantly more powerful in court.

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Up with this kind of thing!

Horrah!

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Pirate

Appeals process a sham, sherlock

As any fule kno, the parking operators' appeals process is a tactic to get to to engage, admit who you are, that you drove the car, you parked there, and that they have valid contact details for you.

Typical advice from Pepipoo, Money Saving Expert etc is to ignore them completely. This was successful for me a couple of years ago when I got a ticket despite having parked properly. Sequence of threatening and finally desperate letters, followed by them giving up. Not sure if introduction of POOPLA has made any difference to this, IANAL etc.

I'm not in favour of people parking where they like, but private parking co's have killed the golden goose by pursuing the money rather than acting reasonably or fairly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Appeals process a sham, sherlock

Reminds me a bit of DHL. Order something from overseas and it's delivered by them, gets to me fine. No sign of customs notice, no customs charges etc. About a month later a letter comes through from DHL. "We paid to speed your parcel through customs etc etc, you now owe us £50" this was on a £20 purchase which, to my knowledge, was not customs chargable.

I simply ignored the letters, I never went into a contract with them, I never agreed verbally or in writing to have them pay something for me. Heck I never even chose DHL. There is absolutely nothing which means I owe them any money apart from their word (not even a customs letter)

I imagine it's much the same with these private car parks. No real legal prescident to force you to pay their fines, you never entered a contract with them and at the end of the day it's your word vs theirs.

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Re: DHL

Same thing happened to me a while back after I'd purchased two T-shirts from a well known, cognitively nerdy purveyor of geek tat. I paid the retailer including shipping to the UK. Goods were delivered, this time by Uninterruptable Power Supply. A couple of weeks later, *bosh*, a demand for payment of what appears to be utterly made up bollocks to the equal value of my purchases.

My reasoning was the same as yours. My contract was with the retailer and I've paid the shipping charge. If they contracted it out to someone else that's not my problem. I ignored it and heard nothing further.

Seems a common phish.

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IT Angle

Re: Appeals process a sham, sherlock

@Nick 6 "As any fule kno, the parking operators' appeals process is a tactic to get to to engage, admit who you are, that you drove the car, you parked there, and that they have valid contact details for you."

In order to do what, exactly? Spam you? Genuinely interested.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Appeals process a sham, sherlock

Sounds bent. Had it been real it would have come accompanied by the relevant Customs documents and there should have been a Customs sticker on the parcel. If you bang the tracking number into their system you should be able to immediately see whether or not import Duties or tax were charged.

NB: Almost everything attracts VAT, whether it's dutiable or not.

However, the charges are high and there is a good reason for this. The courier firms pay the Duty and VAT out of their own Customs account and then reclaim that from you. There is usually a fee for this service (both admin and your borrowing of their money) which, on lower value items, can easily exceed the charges themselves.

Note that the courier firms lose a small bloody fortune[1] every year on Duty/VAT on the B2C trade into the UK, as chasing the little stuff isn't worth the cost of doing so.

[1] Or, to the likes of you and I, a big bloody fortune.

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Re: Appeals process a sham, sherlock

They want to engage you in communication in the hope that you'll say something incriminating (at which point they have a much stronger case than simply pointing the finger).

In their ideal world, you'll reply to their demand for payment with something like:

"Dear whoever,

Although I admit I was in the carpark you mention on the date you mention, it was not my intention to overstay. I simply went into the supermarket and bought my stuff. I went back later in the day to pick up some more stuff.

I don't believe I overstayed and will not pay your stupid fine."

As soon as you've sent that you've given them the missing pieces of the puzzle they need to actually make a case; namely that you were there, you were driving and you accept that their case has merit (even if you're denying it). This seriously weakens your case in court, although even then it's unlikely they'll actually pursue it to court.

By simply ignoring the letters, it's a case of one (private) company against one (private) individual, with no basis in law for one being able to 'fine' the other.

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Re: DHL

"Goods were delivered, this time by Uninterruptable Power Supply."

Either downloading MP3s by candlelight during a blackout, or that must have taken a while.

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Re: Appeals process a sham, sherlock

I generally reply to such unsolicited denamdds-for-money-with-menaces with a brief letter referring them to the reply given in "Arkell vs Pressdram".

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@AC Re: Appeals process a sham, sherlock

"No real legal prescident to force you to pay their fines, you never entered a contract with them"

I've done a fair bit of research on this, and technically you do enter into a contract with a land owner when you park on private land (such as supermarkets), as long as various conditions are met (ample, unambiguous signage etc). It differs from a real parking fine as the contract is effectively a verbal one between the driver of the vehicle and the land ownner. If you 'contravene' the contract, they can send you an 'invoice' (which they very dishonestly attempt to make look as much like a real parking ticket as possible), with a supposedly pre agreed amount of money for breaking their rules.

A few years ago, I was issued with several of these 'invoice' for parking on a patch of land near my flat in the city centre, by the bastard company that is UKPC. This land had no signage whatsoever telling me I couldn't park there, so I tried many different methods to tell them to get stuffed; funny letters, factual letters with proof of no wrongdoing (photographs etc) and just ignoring them. The latter was the most effective. They send letter after letter before fobbing you off to a debt recovery company, who in turn pass you to another and another on being ignored. After a few months they get bored and the letters stop.

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Re: @AC Appeals process a sham, sherlock

I think you need to be a little wary when having these "debts" sold to a debt recovery company as I believe that they can register this with the various credit reference agencies. It's ok at the time but may come back to bit you when you least expect it.

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Re: @AC Appeals process a sham, sherlock

There is no legal debt until and unless they take you to court and win.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC Appeals process a sham, sherlock

Steve is right.

Only a County Court Judgement can be recorded on your credit file. Private parking companies almost never take things that far.

Council-issued Penalty Charge Notices also cannot be recorded on your credit file.

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Re: Appeals process a sham, sherlock

That's where the camera comes in. You didn't think they installed them to help you did you ?

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Re: @AC Appeals process a sham, sherlock

I think you need to be a little wary when having these "debts" sold to a debt recovery company

If they do that, send them a brief letter threatening to sue them for libel. It's always worked for me (even against Notional Wastemaker Bank). If they try to substantiate their silly claims in Court, you will invariably win, and they will have publically defamed you - which is actionable of course!

UKPC and Network Rail currently have to pay me damages of just over £7000 for their trying to register me as a bad debtor with a Credit Reference Agency. I'm still waiting for the money, but have been assured by the Court that they are paying for my summer holiday!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC Appeals process a sham, sherlock

> Only a County Court Judgement can be recorded on your credit file.

Manure from a male bovine !

Almost anyone and his dog can stick something on your credit file - and in my experience if you complain and insist on a notice of correction then the credit reference agency will refuse to post it as apparently a notice that "I have no debt with <mobile company with strongly coloured name>, any claimed debt is due to their failure to bill in accordance with the contract entered into" is defamatory and therefore cannot be accepted.

So yes, some incompetent, lying bunch of criminals can put a false notice on your file, and when it comes down to it the reference agency will take their word over yours. And it's not fun when you are trying to buy a house and this adverse debt becomes a sticking point for the lender !

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Appeals process a sham, sherlock

" you never entered a contract with them "

Which is why now signs read "by parking here you agree to our terms and promise to sacrifice your grandmothers blood on our altar.....yada yada yada".

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Less Basil Fawlty

More organised scam. The parking operators used to employ people to collect money when people left the car park. In the name of decreasing costs they went over to automated systems and then the racket of towing and clamping anyone unlucky enough to be in one of their car parks without a ticket.

They could always go back to the man in a shed approach but I guess the revenue from charging people who dont pay or overstay, however % small that is, is worth more to them.

The "tickets" they send are just an offer to pay. So I choose not to.

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Re: Less Basil Fawlty

Used to be that you could employ a man in a shed for a pittance. That was because the man usually had a good pension and saw the job as a way of getting out of the house and meeting people, the money not being a major factor and probably spent on beer.

Now, with minimum wage, you can't employ such men. So the company loses as they have to use hi-tech, and the man loses as he's stuck at home going stir crazy and probably dying before his time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Voluntary work

Is not subject to minimum wage...

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Re: Less Basil Fawlty

Such companies frequently do not "employ" people anyway. They are "ghost" workers, part of the black economy. There is widespread ignoring of the "minimum wage"

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Anonymous Coward

I kept having a parking fine overturned by one company. The reason is that I pay on-line, but the terms and conditions don't actually state when this needs to be done by. They tried to argue that this should be carried out before 10am but as this is not stated anywhere they cannot enforce this. Quite often I will park in there car park and simply not buy a ticket, and if they ticket my car I just pay for parking on-line and ignore the ticket. They did try to pressure me, and I had a rather amusing conversation with them. Despite all their talk of bailiffs and court action they had to admit that their terms and conditions did not actually cover on-line, and asked me not to share this info with other car parkers.

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Despite all their talk of bailiffs and court action they had to admit that their terms and conditions did not actually cover on-line, and asked me not to share this info with other car parkers.

So go on then, share away - let's all have some fun with these chaps; who, where, which parking company?

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One thing I've wondered is about the law on displaying number plates. I would imagine it is only a requirement to display them on the public highway, and since these car parks are private, presumably one could quite legitimately remove/cover the plate on entering the car park if so inclined? Mind you, they've probably already thought of that and written it into the small print on the car park notice...

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Coat

I think you imagine wrong. Number plates fall under the Construction and Use Regulations which apply to vehicles on land customarily used by the public, car parks included, as well as on the public highway.

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Unhappy

I've downvoted you purely for dashing my hopes of free parking.

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Happy

Good rule of thumb: If you expect your liability insurance to cover your actions, your plates must be visible & attached. Considering the number of accidents people make in a parking lot, this is probably a very stupid plays to make those kinds of tricks.

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you could always hark back to a bygone era a little and have someone walking in front of your car as you enter, obscuring the plate?

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Stop

So if I total my car into a brick wall completely destroying the reg plates, the insurance won't pay out?

I don't think so.

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If the accident is bad enough to totally destroy both reg plates on either end of the vehicle, I don't think you'll be worrying about your insurance.

Or anything else for that matter.

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Anonymous Coward

As long as there is no proof that the car was fitted will illegal plates you should be fine, however insurance companies have refused to pay where evidence of illegal, usually mis-spaced or missing the correct B.S. marking, plates were fitted at the time. I know of one Land-Rover 101 driver who hit such a 'twat-plated' car that didn't even loose his own NCB, his insurer's refused to pay and informed the other parties insurance co that their 'customer' was illegally on the road, so they also refused to pay out as it was fully comp. the Police then got involved and went after them for no insurance!

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Cover the front plate on entering the car park

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Go

Upvoted solely for knowing a 101 driver. Yay 101! Most fun vehicle ever!

Proceed with this nonsense at flank speed^W^W a maximum of 60 mph and I hope you have a hugely endowed wallet to pay for the fuel!

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Windows

Not Finland...

Only the police (or their agents) can remove a licence plate. Which they do, mostly Friday nights. Cannot be driven with no plates.

"Hey, Pekka - is that your car?" "Yeps" "No plates?" "Yep, too ratfaced yesterday. Get 'em back in a few months, when I can drive again."

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I got fined by one of these companies, using ANPR in place of

actual tickets, or human interaction, claiming that I'd failed to pay their parking charge. Pretty stupid process as, unless you remember to get a ticket from the machine, you can't prove that you paid.

Got it overturned, in the end, but I fully endorse any prankster who wants to give these idiots the run around.

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