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 …

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  1. Velv Silver badge
    Go

    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 :)

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

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

    2. Gordon Pryra

      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?

      1. Jedit
        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?

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          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>.

        2. Tom 13
          Coat

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

          Obviously not fast enough. Both cameras got him.

      2. CaptainHook

        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.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge

          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.....

          1. grammarpolice

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

            Presumably the Aussie wasn't insured, either.

          2. Tapeador
            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

            1. Eugene Goodrich

              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.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face
        Thumb Up

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

        You are Chris Huhne and I claim my £100

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

    3. TiggerUK

      "My car's been cloned"

  2. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Up with this kind of thing!

    Horrah!

  3. Nick 6
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Sir Sham Cad

        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.

        1. M Gale
          Coat

          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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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.

      3. Goldmember

        @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.

        1. Slartybardfast

          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.

          1. Steve 13
            Thumb Down

            Re: @AC Appeals process a sham, sherlock

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

            1. Anonymous Coward
              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.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                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 !

          2. AlbertH
            Pint

            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!

      4. JohnMurray

        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 ?

      5. Anonymous Coward
        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".

    2. Neil B
      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.

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        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.

        1. Tanuki

          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".

  4. sugerbear

    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.

    1. The Axe
      Facepalm

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Voluntary work

        Is not subject to minimum wage...

      2. JohnMurray

        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"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      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?

  6. Snivelling Wretch

    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...

    1. Vulch
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Unhappy

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

    2. ObSolutions, Inc
      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.

      1. thesykes

        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?

      2. grammarpolice
        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.

        1. M Gale

          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.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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!

          1. David Cantrell
            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!

    3. JohnMurray

      Cover the front plate on entering the car park

    4. Andus McCoatover
      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."

  7. Lamont Cranston
    Go

    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.

  8. Penrod Pooch

    The 'fines' from the private parking companies have absolutely no basis in law - other than that if they actually call them fines or penalties they are committing an offence contrary to the Administration of Justice Act. When claiming that the 'charge' is owed when it clearly isn't is at the very least an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair trading Regulations (misleading and/or aggressive practices), and fraud and various other offences if the intent (and in some cases mental capacity) can be proven.

    Whilst they may have big signs warning you that by breaking their rules you contractually agree to pay them a substantial and punitive 'charge', as a matter of well settled law if the charge is ostensibly intended to deter the driver from breaking the rules, or the charge so great that no reasonable driver would actually agree to pay it in exchange for the 'right' to break the rules, the charge is a penalty clause and utterly unenforceable under contract law.

    Last year, out of approximately 1.8 meeelion fake parking fines issued by private parking companies, 600 resulted in a county court claim, of which 14 were found in favour of the private parking company at contested hearings.

    The PPC scam relies on empty threats of court action in order to reinforce their unlawful demands for monies that they are not owed. The reality is that the chances of being taken to court by these crooks is comparable to that of winning the lottery - without buying a ticket.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "innocent drivers wrongly hit with fines" - These are not fines and to call them such is misleading and incorrect. They are speculative invoices only.

  10. Graham Marsden
    Pirate

    If it is not a Penalty Charge Notice...

    ... tell them to shove it where the sun doesn't shine! (Or, rather, don't even bother to start engaging with them)

    Penalty Charge Notices are legally enforceable, Parking Charge Notices, even when tricked up to *look like* they are official fines are nothing more than a scam designed to make you think they are legitimate.

    See http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/private-parking-tickets for more details.

    Jolly Roger Icon because these scammers are a bunch of pirates...

    1. JohnMurray

      Re: If it is not a Penalty Charge Notice...

      This site is better, with loads of info on other "problems"

      http://ticketfighter.co.uk/private-parking-tickets/

    2. Parax

      Re: If it is not a Penalty Charge Notice...

      Private parking is covered by Contract Law, it is enforceable through Civil Court.

      In order for a Private ticket to be legally valid, the Contract must be clear, ie unambiguous clear signage must be displayed. and their must be evidence of the contractual offence taking place.

      It is possible to issue tickets to people who park in disabled spaces, without displaying a blue badge if there is an appropriate sign indicating it is not permitted.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Send an invoice back

    More than a few times I've invoiced companies for wasting my time, £35 per letter or email sent, £25 per phone call made, £15 per letter, email or phone call received and my personal favorite £15 for drawing up and processing each invoice.

    All letters state that continuing to communicate with me conveys acceptance of these terms unless that communication is to confirm resolution of the matter at hand.

    Every written response I send includes the updated invoice (plus interest at 8% on the last invoice)

    A few companies have even paid - most notably BT. The response is frequently quite incredulous but amusing. I heartily recommend that more people try it. The trick is that the amounts are charge are "reasonable" for a professionals time so it starts putting it in a very grey legal area. I have wondered about selling some of these "debts" to debt collection companies....

    1. AlbertH

      Re: Send an invoice back

      More than a few times I've invoiced companies for wasting my time, £35 per letter or email sent, £25 per phone call made, £15 per letter, email or phone call received and my personal favorite £15 for drawing up and processing each invoice.

      I started doing exactly that after my bank charged me £25 for a letter telling me that I was £2.14 overdrawn. I replied (enclosing an invoice for £30 for MY letter) thanking them for their concern and that the account would be adjusted that day. Over the next year, they ran up over £600 of debt with me which they refused to pay on the grounds that the claims were "frivolous".

      I took them to Small Claims Court - the bank Manager refused to appear, so I had to send Bailiffs to compel his attendance (and to shut the branch for the duration of the Court Action). The reputational damage to Natwest was significant, and I was ultimately awarded my money, damages and costs. Natwest had to pay out almost £8000 and lost most of a day's business at a city centre branch. I moved my overdraft elsewhere immediately, of course!

      I hate this silly ambulance-chasing litigious nonsense that's going on these days for all the spurious "injuries" people suffer, but I'll always take on Banks, Parking Companies, Railways, airlines and any other companies who provide me poor or overpriced "service" or try to apply additional charges to their headline prices (the airlines!).

      1. Vic

        Re: Send an invoice back

        > I had to send Bailiffs to compel his attendance (and to shut the branch

        *Marvelous*.

        Beats my various small-claims actions :-)

        Vic.

  12. Jon Massey
    Headmaster

    I think you'll find...

    That Yate is in South Gloucestershire, not Bristol. Hpmph

  13. Fat Bob
    Headmaster

    I think you'll also find...

    That one doesn't purchase tickets to park in Yate shopping centre.

    1. Jediben
      Trollface

      Re: I think you'll also find...

      And one does not simply WALK into Yate shopping centre.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I think you'll also find...

        One does not walk or drive or transport themselves to Yate by any other means.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If these companies want to charge you for parking they should clearly display the charges, issue a ticket and you pay it on your way out - that way people understand exactly what they are getting charges. But... having APNR cameras and doing it the lazy way is just hoping people will also be lazy and pay these charge notices.

    Unfortunately too many people probably do just pay up so the scheme continues.

  15. MattEvansC3

    Having had to deal with queries like this in a previous job a parking company can only issue a parking charge if its with a registered association, the main one being the British Parking Association, if you get a penalty you shouldn't have you can complain yo them. Also if the parking company did issue you a penalty in error/fraudulently you can make an official complaint in writing to DVLA who can black list the company from further information requests.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not true

      No private company can issue a Penalty Charge Notice.

      Members of the British Parking Association are private businesses. They can only issue an invoice or request for payment, which they might try to make look like a real PCN.

      If their case has no merit, ignore them.

      If you were in the wrong, you should pay promptly to take advantage of any discounts. In the highly unlikely event of being taken to court, if you lose it may cost you a lot and you will have a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you which is very bad for your credit file.

    2. AndyC
      Pirate

      Employed by the BPA perchance?

      The message above sounds like someone who wants us to believe that what the parking companies do is legal.

      Quick fact: when you park on any private land, any debt is with the LAND OWNER, not their agent. In this case, the parking company are the AGENT and have no legal standing to chase the debt.

      I doubt a supermarket would chase after someone for overstaying in a free car park.

      Not if they wanted to retain any customers that is...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    Motorway Services

    Be warned, if you visit the same motorway services twice on the same day (perhaps on a return journey) you may also be issued with a fine for overstaying the 2 hour limit. Seems to me these camera systems are very flawed.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This just smells of awesomeness on a Friday morning.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Made up fact

    > After making a two visits to a carpark in Yate Shopping Centre, Bristol, and buying a correct ticket for each visit

    Er, Yate Shopping Centre car park is, like most other car parking in South Gloucestershire, free (hurrah!), with time limits, and no ticket machines. So he certainly didn't buy a ticket for each visit (and the blog doesn't claim he did).

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Made up fact

      The appeal letters the Prankster quotes on his blog do explicitly state he visited Yate Shopping Centre Main Car Park.

      1. ukgnome Silver badge

        Re: Made up fact

        http://www.yateshoppingcentre.co.uk

        Yate Shopping Centre has 4 car parks with over 1650 car parking spaces, which allow free parking for up to 4 hours.

      2. Cari

        Re: Made up fact

        AC isn't contesting what car park the Prankster stayed in, just the spurious information about him buying two tickets. You also get slapped with parking charge tickets when overstaying your welcome in free car parks (since they often have time limits to stop people taking the piss).

  19. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
    Coat

    Important point

    Everyone should be made aware, that the correct pronunciation of 'Yate' is 'Yar-tay', in your best Boycey voice.

    1. Number6

      Re: Important point

      It still can't compete with the town next door, which is Sodding Chipbury.

  20. Rick Giles
    Coat

    What do you expect?

    This kind of shite is only going to get worse the more we replace people with robots.

    Mines the one with Det. Spooner on the tag.

  21. DBC

    Why do people keep calling these private parking tickets "fines"? They are nothing of the sort, they are unenforceable invoices, nothing more.

  22. Andrew Heffron

    Barriers?

    So there's no gate that prevents you from leaving unless you plug a credit card into a slot? Or does everyone over there employ the Mr Bean Manuever to dart under when it raises for somebody else?

    1. jungle_jim
      Pint

      Re: Barriers?

      Perhaps today IS a good day to die

      PREPARE FOR RAMMING SPEED

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Barriers?

        "Perhaps today IS a good day to die

        PREPARE FOR RAMMING SPEED"

        I could hear Worfs voice as I read it!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deeply 'frenched' plates are very difficult for high pole mounted cameras... Fareham Town Council's car parks have their ANPR camera's at knee height, so high mounted plates are unreadable there!

  24. itzman
    FAIL

    here's another one

    I got a ticket for parking in a prescribed place.

    I nearly fought it on the grounds that a prescribed place is one of the few places you are categorically and legally allowed to park.

    1. AlbertH
      Coat

      Re: here's another one

      I got a ticket for parking in a prescribed place.

      Illiteracy and stupidity should both be actionable!

  25. The Grump

    Excuse me, sir...

    but computers do not make mistakes. Please pay your fine at the window.

    Here in the United States of Obama, if you challenge a photo ticket and lose your appeal, the file almost doubles. And you lose your appeal 99.9999 percent of the time. I expect this practice to spread world-wide, anything for more profit. Isn't private busness working with the government wonderful ?

    No icon - need a jackbooted nazi icon for stories like this.

    1. Chris_Maresca

      Re: Excuse me, sir...

      Thing is in most jurisdictions, photo tickets are illegal in a variety of ways and very, very easy to defeat. BTDT twice. Most people loose in court because they are using some random excuse, not a technicality based in law. One of the easiest ways to defeat it is to do a discovery request on the contract between the municipality & the photo company. 9 out of 10 times this will be refused and your case will be dismissed.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Excuse me, sir...

      Damn that Obama!

    3. mikeyt

      Re: Excuse me, sir...

      downvoted for implied racism

      1. Steven Roper

        Re: Excuse me, sir...

        Downvoted for playing the race card because someone doesn't like Obama's policies.

  26. Michael Shaw
    Pint

    winning in court

    If, and i do really mean if in the very rare times a private parking company actually takes you to court, you do not have anything to worry about. I know, because its happened to me.

    OPC took me to court for an unpaid parking ticket issued at watford underground station and lost in sheffield magistrates court because:

    1. they failed to establish any legal basis for them to be entitled to the money. (they tried several approaches, but could not provide a satisfactory explanation of why i owed them the money*)

    2. They failed to establish any legal basis for them to offer parking at the site. Their contract with the land owner was for parking enforcement only.

    3. They failed to convince the magistrate that the signs provided clarity that the area was not part of the pay and display car park, referring to 'permits' on the 14th line of text (the smallest text on the sign) and by not including the word "resident" it left open the fact that i had a permit, issued by the pay and display machine.

    4. They failed to convince the magistrate that the non-existent markings between the pay-and-display car park and the residents only parking would alert a reasonably careful driver, that they had entered a completely separate car park, that did not offer pay and display parking.

    I was awarded £125 costs.

    * They tried to use the "pre-estimate of damages" approach initially, but were unable to provide a any basis for estimation of damages, never mind that they could prove predated when I parked thereor when they put the sign up. They then attempted to use the "it was an offer to allow parking without a permit, on payment", but the sign both forbid parking there without a permit, but the magistrate also agreed with me that no one would willingly choose to enter into parking there for £140, making such a contractual offer unenforceable. Their final plea to the magistrate was that the debt came about because i did not pay the parking ticket, and that they didn't understand the law well enough to be able to explain in legal terms how parking penalty tickets are legal. The magistrate in her summing up was very clear. In the absence of damage, or financial loss, such charges can only be considered penalties, and as such are not collect-able through the courts.

  27. David 45

    Penalty?

    It's my understanding that if the word "penalty" is actually used on the so-called ticket, this is illegal. The "fine" is nothing more than an invoice for parking and should be treated with contempt. It is not a legal document and is merely a civil matter, despite the way it may be made up to look like an official notice. There is no compunction to actually pay these so-called "fines", as they are purely dressed-up extortion threats. I had one in the post after over-staying my welcome by a few minutes in the MacDonalds car park at one of the major airports. (Despicable that DVLA are allowed to disclose vehicle keeper details, but that's another story!). I ignored it and then received a further letter from a so-called debt collection agency which, strangely enough, just happen to share the same address as the original parking "enforcement" company. Odd that. Ignored that and never got any more. There are numerous postings about such companies on a Google search and many suggestions available how to deal with these sharks.

  28. Herby Silver badge

    You mean they don't have an exit gate?

    Here in the US of A the "self service" parking usually entails getting a ticket when you go into the parking facility, and then when you are about to leave, going up to a vending machine, and submitting said ticket and plying the machine with folding green paper with pictures of presidents and other elder statesmen, or a credit card. The machine dutifly records said payment on the ticket and the time, and you slip said (now validated) ticket in the slot at the exit gate and your car is now out of jail, and you are free to go.

    Now if you don't pay, you don't get out of the garage/car-park, being trapped until you can find some attendant or just give up and ram the gate (they are usually pretty flimsy) and bust out of "car jail".

    The alternatives are as I saw this last weekend, having a fixed price to pay upon entering a parking facility (it was up to $30/vehicle at the Rock Concert in Napa!), and the time was "unlimited". Of course if the car stayed overnight or was abandoned, a nice friendly towing company would take possession and cost MUCH MORE to get it out of "maximum security car jail" (aka impound lot).

    Now where was that nice portable jet pack when you needed it!

    1. Number6

      Re: You mean they don't have an exit gate?

      If there's an exit barrier it's usually quite clear that some form of ticket or payment is required. There's usually an entry barrier too, often where the ticket is supplied. That's also where a reputable car park will have a copy of the terms and a clear indication of the cost of parking for different time periods. However, barriers cost money to install and maintain, and car parks that are nominally free for a period in the expectation that most people will leave before the end of the free period usually don't have barriers because they're not cost-effective.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I got my £50 fine (for failing to pay 50p) cancelled from a council car park that charged through the night. The sign was horrendously unclear, the ticket had some legal technicality that I argued made it unenforceable and I managed to ..ahem ..obtain a valid ticket after I found the yellow note stuck to my windscreen (I may not have mentioned the details of exactly how or when I came by it in my appeal letter). An appeal in the first instance doesn't cost you anything, and it makes them work a little for their money. Who knows, you might even win.

  30. DBC

    As this was a private parking ticket why was it heard in the magistrates court? As it was a purely civil matter , it should have been heard in the County Court .

  31. MrDamage
    Trollface

    I think, therefore I scam.

    I just carry a metal toolbox, full of metal tools, around in the back of my car, and park near the entry gate.

    When it comes time to leave, I take out the toolbox, place it on the imbedded sensor on the entry ramp near the boomgate, get a nice, fresh ticket, and pay nix when I leave. Most shopping centre car parks like this have a 30-120 minute free parking period.

    1. Number6

      Re: I think, therefore I scam.

      Many years ago when I was a student, I was wheeling my shopping trolley back to my car in the Sainsbury's Car Park in Bath and discovered that it would operate the inbound gate when it ran over the induction loop. I think that in these days of CCTV everywhere you'd probably find someone was watching closely enough to see what you were doing.

  32. Number6
    Thumb Up

    Well done the prankster. I've always wondered about trying this at my local supermarket car park where I know they issue tickets and now I know it works.

  33. cortland

    They DID! They DID!

    They called el Reg journalists!

    Calloo callay!

  34. big_D Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "We don't accept calls of this kind," they told The Register.

    Then why do they have a telephone that accepts incoming calls?

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