5 February 2017

Pay by text - delays

Slow text!
This tribunal decision, number 2160435402, which you can download from here could help anyone else whose text requests to pay were dealt with very slowly by PayByPhone.

The appellant attended the hearing. He reiterated the points made in his representations and Notice of Appeal.

The appellant accepts that at the time the Penalty Charge Notice was issued payment had not been taken from his card by the pay by phone system although he claims he had done all that was required of him to make the payment.

The issue is that although he claims he sent a text messages to make the payments to park for a full day in the car park, the pay by phone system did not process the payments until sometime later in the day.

He produced his mobile phone showing the relevant text messages sent by him to the pay by phone service. He had not retained the responses to the messages on his phone but had a photocopy of a screen print of the responses. In addition he produced a copy of the statement from the mobile phone company. The phone is a company phone so it includes details of other phone numbers including the appellant’s number.

The appellant explained he regularly uses the car park to park his car. On the 31 May 2016 he sent the first text message at 7:40. Usually he would receive a response immediately from the pay by phone system confirming the parking but on this occasion he did not receive a response so he sent a second message at 7:40 but he received no response. So he waited until 8:57 when he reached work and still having had no response to the earlier two text messages, he sent a third text message. He claims these were not processed until later in the day at 17:24 when he received responses to all three messages.

I accept having examined the appellant’s mobile phone and compared the text messages sent with those recorded on the mobile phone statement that the appellant sent the messages at the times he claimed he had sent the messages.

The copy responses to the text messages produced by the appellant match the times and detail of the responses shown on the Verrus pay by phone system.

However, the record of the times the appellant requested the parking produced by the Verrus pay by phone system is at odds with the times the messages were sent as shown on the appellant’s phone.

The appellant has raised an issue with the adequacy of the pay by phone system and the onus is on the Authority to satisfy me that on the 31 May 2016 there was no fault with the pay by phone system.

I note that there is a statement on the record produced by Verrus pay by phone that there was no down time on the 31/05/2016. Having examined the text messages on the phone and the Verrus pay by phone record, I find that there was a problem with the pay by phone system which resulted in a delay in the messages being recorded by the pay by phone system. There may not have been any down time on the system but it is likely that there was a delay.

The record produced by Verrus pay by phone shows the appellant made two payments within the same second at 17:24:01 and a third payment at 17:24:55. It is highly unlikely that a motorist would be able to send two text messages within the same second. It also seems odd that the payment which was allocated to the following day the 01/06/2016 was taken 4 seconds earlier at 17:25:13 than the first payment made for the date of parking (31/05/2016) which was taken at 17:24:17. The fact that the payments were not attributed in a chronological manner throws doubt on the reliability of the records produced.

Just as there is an obligation on the Authority to maintain road signs and markings there is also an obligation on the Authority to maintain the pay by phone system.

In this case I find the pay by phone system had failed on the 31/05/2016 so that there was a delay in the system recording payment. Accordingly, I allow the appeal.

Attitudes of adjudicators to staying with your vehicle until the transaction is concluded vary. One recent decision said it was the prudent choice and another said the whole point was you didn't need to as it is a mobile payment system after all. Being with the vehicle won't stop a traffic warden from giving the car a ticket so there is nothing much to be gained by staying. The council can check all your interactions with PayByPhone so simply demand they produce them at Appeal if you are sure they will help your case.

You should not suffer because a system that the council have imposed on you does not work efficiently.

It is also unreasonable behaviour by a council to seek to penalise a motorist (who probably parks and pays every working day) and was not trying a fast one on. No wonder the reputation of parking at Barnet Council is so poor when they act like shysters.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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