27 September 2012

Have you had a poxy post pay-by-phone PCN?

parking tickets are like a rash in Barnet
Recently Mr Mustard made a new twitter acquaintance. This person had paid for their parking on the pay-by-phone system and then 2 minutes later, whilst about their business, they received a PCN (Penalty Charge Notice or parking ticket in old money).

This means that, officially, they have to start filling in on-line forms or writing letters in order to get the obviously incorrect ticket cancelled as in the case of parking tickets you are assumed to be guilty until proven innocent. By keeping the text that proved they had paid, using twitter and chasing @barnetcouncil the parking ticket did get cancelled but of course most people aren't going to do that, especially those who are not au fait with computers in general and twitter in particular (Mr Mustard didn't tweet until he started blogging).

There should be a local phone number you can ring, and an email address you can send to, for when the parking ticket is patently wrong and should be squashed with the minimum of fuss. It is understandable that appeals on substantive grounds have to be in writing (and those should also be possible by email which you currently cannot do) but not what amounts to the correction of errors perpetrated by the council (acting by their agents).

Mr Mustard has been looking into this area. The handheld equipment used by traffic wardens (to use their old name) is meant to update within 2 minutes according to one FOI answer he has had, and according to the equipment manufacturer, Motorola, it should be updated in less than a second. Mr Mustard has asked about one sample day to see how often the equipment does not work properly or there isn't a phone signal as that is what is relied upon. If he gets a sensible answer he will let you know.

Mr Mustard had a chat with a traffic warden. They said it would take 4 or 5 minutes (that means 5 then!) for a pay-by-phone payment to show up on his/her handset. If you have paid for 30 minutes that is quite a chunk of time when you are at risk.

To find out how widespread the problem is, Mr Mustard needs your help. If you paid for parking using the pay-by-phone system or paypoint and received a parking ticket after you had paid please send proof to him at mrmustard@zoho.com and tell him how easy it was to get the ticket cancelled.

If you have sent in an appeal and been rejected please send copies of both letters to Mr Mustard who can probably sweep away the administrative hurdles for you.

If you paid for parking, had proof, appealed, got rejected and then gave up and paid the parking ticket please tell mrmustard@zoho.com about that as well and he will do his best to get your money back for you.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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