Carpark pay by phone attempt leads to battle over court threat

Signs in the carpark do not say if or how payments by phone will be confirmed
Signs in the carpark do not say if or how payments by phone will be confirmed
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A parking company threatened to take legal action against a soldier and his fiancée over a £3 parking charge on the day he returned home from Afghanistan.

Though Kate Chandler, from Norton, and her fiancé SAC Craig Welsh wrote to the company, Civil Enforcement in Liverpool, to give details of how they had paid by phone on May 4, it refused to accept their evidence .

It only backed down this week when the Bury Free Press stepped in.

Craig is with 15sq RAF Regiment at Honington and had only returned from six months in Afghanistan hours before the couple went to Bury St Edmunds station to catch a 9.30am train to visit his parents.

They parked in the large privately owned carpark between Club Brazilia and the small NCP-run carpark in front of the station and decided to pay by phone.

Kate said: “The first time it wasn’t picking up our registration number, so we tried again.

“It all went through, took the bank details, so we thought it had taken. We thought £3 for all day was very good, but about a week later we received a ‘fine’ notice for £75.”

Kate wrote to Civil Enforcement, which handles parking fines for carpark owners, explaining what had happened and giving the mobile phone number. She pointed out that by law the company has to keep a record of calls handled and her own phone records recorded the two calls.

Civil Enforcement’s four-line reply said: “Our records show that you have called to make payment for parking however the transaction was declined by the bank.

“The enforcement notice remains valid.”

The couple thought that unlikely because the account held Craig’s back-pay and bonus for active service, so they checked with the bank and found no demand for payment had been made.

But before they could get back to the company, a red ‘final reminder’ demanding £150 and threatening ‘debt recovery’ and ‘court action’ arrived.

After the Bury Free Press took up the issue, a spokesman for Civil Enforcement said on Wednesday: “Having looked into this matter further, it appears that the driver did try to make payment but that it may have been referred by the payment processing system due to high level payment protection and security.

“We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Ms Chandler for the inconvenience and confirm that her parking charge notice has now been cancelled and we hope that she will return to use the car park in the future.”