Which? is calling for an end to unfair charges and unclear signs used by the private parking industry.
Which? researchers checked private parking conditions in a typical urban area and found parking signs that were obscured or had defunct phone numbers, and penalties ranging from £100 up to £360.
The British Parking Association admitted to Which? that the highest charges were ‘unlikely to be fair’ and even a clamper towing a car at the scene said signs weren’t clear.
Public sector parking
Although Department for Transport guidance says prompt payment discounts should be maintained if a driver makes an appeal which is rejected, only around a third of councils said they do this in every case, which could stop people appealing.
Which? also found that some healthcare trusts in England are making more than a million pounds a year from hospital car park fees. Others are making losses, so their car parks have to be subsidised by money intended for healthcare.
Unfair parking charges
Martyn Hocking, editor of Which? magazine, says: ‘Of course it’s fair to stop people parking on your land or to charge them a fee for the privilege, but it should be absolutely clear where people can and can’t park, and what the charges and penalties are.
‘It’s not right that huge sums can be extracted from unsuspecting drivers, or that incentive schemes can be used to discourage people from appealing fines.
‘There are good reasons why hospitals charge for their car parks, but if they’re making large profits, there’s clearly scope to reduce the amount they charge.’
Which? supports the government’s aim of greater regulation in the parking sector, but is also calling for minimum standards on private parking signs and costs, rigorous monitoring of enforcement companies and an independent appeals process.
The articles ‘Parking charges investigated’ and ‘Hospital parking lottery’ appear in the September 2009 issue of Which? magazine. You can subscribe to Which? magazine online.
Which? RSS news and Twitter feeds
For daily consumer news, subscribe to the . If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste http://www.which.co.uk/feeds/reviews/news.xml into your newsreader. Find out more about RSS in the Which? guide to RSS news feeds.