Private Parking Infringement by "Traffic Monitoring Services"

Hi everyone

I got a fine from centre management for parking in the carpark at work last night. So bullsh*t, I earn a really crappy retail wage (~$20/hr) and am being slugged $77 because I violated their "terms and conditions". Basically an entire nights wage gone. I admit I should have parked on the street, but the closest spot was a few blocks away and I don't feel comfortable walking that distance alone at midnight.

Because I am 1. poor and 2. a frugal ozbargainer, what is the very worst that can happen if I ignore their infringement/breach of contract notice? Do they actually take people to court? The folks are saying I should pay up but from what I've read, if I do nothing they can't really do a lot apart from send nasty looking letters.

I am in in QLD if that matters and I am not the registered owner of the vehicle.

Thanks.

Comments

  • +28 votes

    Do nothing until you get a letter in the mail. And don't park in the centre for a while.

  • +40 votes

    read this

    all 55 pages of it

    http://www.trafficlaw.com.au/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=538&...

    then ignore the 'fine' because it is illegal

    • +2 votes

      I read somewhere it is illegal for private firms to raise money by fining people. Don't know if it's true though.

      Either way I would ignore it too and just avoid parking there for a while, in case they have the car towed - which also may be illegal.

      Some legal advise might be helpful. :-)

      • +1 vote

        Only the government can fine or any other equivalent such as jailing people.

        After all how exactly is this private company going to "force" you to pay the fine ?

        They cant jail you etc.

        • +1 vote

          I think these are covered by by-laws.

          I'm not law expert so that's where my opinion ends :)

          Though I agree, don't pay and wait for something far more official and only pay then if required by law!

    • +2 votes

      It's only illegal if it's an ACTUAL fine. For $77, could easily be breach of contract + admin expenses + loss of car space use.

  •  

    Why sensor bullsh*t but not (profanity)?

  • +1 vote

    i know what you mean, I start at 2am and have to park about a 10min walk away from my work, There's no lights, not a nice walk. I park closer but get slugged with 'fines', So far they just send threatening letters to my work as a lot of us park close but they've done nothing as of yet. But I wouldnt pay!

    •  

      You can take your work to court because of OH&S issues. If you trip, fall over, get mugged etc - it is your employer that will cop a very nasty fine AND workers compensation along with increased premiums next year.

  • +25 votes

    Read it carefully. I don't think it will use the word 'fine'. Instead it will say something about damages. They are not a Government organisation and therefore don't have the jurisdiction to fine. Instead, they bluff. Ignore.

    But don't be a dick about parking past their noted limits.

  • +1 vote

    I generally agree with the ignore comments, but might also want to consider that a) you may wish to park there again, and b) they may mention it to your employer. Not major concerns, but something to think about.

  • +6 votes

    Most shopping centres will have a carpark dedicated for staff or will issue staff with permits that will allow them to stay for longer than the allotted time. Perhaps this is something you should look into? Might not help this time, but will solve your future problems.

    • +2 votes

      Not Westfield, at least the Ringwood one. Absolute crap.

      •  

        I thought I heard rumblings that they're trying to do the same thing at Southland as well…

      • +1 vote

        Can't talk about all centers, but most Westfields have an allocated staff parking area. You may need an entry card from their customer service, while at others you get the paper ticket, rescan it at a second entry point and pay a lower price (probably $3-$5 for a days parking). They will often (at least in 4 westfields I know of in QLD) have a secondary parking area outside the center that has free parking, but a 5 minute walk to the centre.

        Westfield themselves have an obligation to provide parking with safe travel to/from the parking space. I've even know others in the past to provide shuttle services around x-mas time for midnight finishes as they closed down the normal staff parking areas to make more room for customers.

  • -1 vote

    If the centre has licence plate recognition you'll want to change your plates before you head back in there again.

  • +4 votes

    Private Parking Infringement

    Make sure you read it correctly. It should state payment notice and not a penalty notice.

  • +1 vote

    OP why did you get the fine? No ticket displayed or over time? This wau i can give you a more accurate reply

    •  

      Over 2hr limit. The time on the ticket showed it was issued after 2h30min, but I was in for 4hrs. It's a publicly accessible carpark and we've been parking there for ages because when we finish, everything is shut and no one else even needs to park there.

      I'm not deliberately trying to screw them over. I just feel that their suggested "loss" is completely unreasonable because they haven't really suffered a loss at all. The ticket was issued in the last hour of trading when many spaces would have been empty.

  •  

    I parked at Bondi beach today not realizing I need to pay for parking, come back after an hour and found out I still don't get any parking fine notice. Will I really be free of this fine or it will come sometime next week in email or something?

    • +6 votes

      If you are talking about the ticketed bay areas/streets, they would fine you on the spot if you were caught. If there wasn't a nice piece of paper on your windscreen then you'll be fine.

      On the other hand, you can't tell me that you seriously park anywhere, let alone one of the most popular tourist attractions, without checking the signs…?

      •  

        Haha yes I didn't realize I have to. I get used to all these free parkings in Sydney west or if the parking fee is decided for me in parking boom gate in malls. I guess I would worry not about the fine in the beach then.

      •  

        If there wasn't a nice piece of paper on your windscreen then you'll be fine.

        Is it illegal remove those nice pieces of paper from the windscreen, to let the car owners think, that they will be fine ?

      •  

        Not so. I unintentionally illegally parked in a Loading Zone last month in Fairfield,
        Was only there 10mins, and moved as soon as I realised..

        Thought I was ok, but low and behold, next week I got $283 fine in the mail.

        •  

          For those types of parking - loading zone, bus zone, no stopping etc they usually take a photo from what I've seen which usually captures the sign as well (no need for that when you are in a ticketed parking area as it won't prove anything).

  • +62 votes

    Here's the basic rundown of what they are trying to do:
    the car parks are free for a certain time, after which you either vacate or pay to park. Notices are posted at the entrances stipulating this and other conditions of entry. By entering and using the car park, the driver is entering into a unilateral contract with the car park operator.
    If the driver overstays the free period and doesn't display a paid ticket, the car park operator claims that there has been a breach of the conditions of entry. In other words a breach of contract.
    The car park operator then asserts that they have suffered damages as a result of the overstay, and seeks to recover those damages (known as "liquidated damages") Now the salient point is that the contract, if there is one, is between the car park operator and the driver of the vehicle. sometimes the driver is also the owner, but not necessarily always. There is no way for the car park operator to know the identity of the driver.
    at this point, the car park operator uses the registration number it has recorded for the vehicle to obtain the name and address of the registered owner by asserting that the vehicle was involved in a breach of contract. This is the part where they go to court to subpoena the names and addresses from queensland transport. they have a plausible reason and so are allowed to have the details. (this has been challenged and the decision has come down in favour of the car park operator – but we are only talking about getting the name and address of the owner of the vehicle, nothing else.) Now this is where the wheels fall off this little enterprise.
    all the car park operator can do is write to the registered owner and complain that the car overstayed its welcome in the car park. It can't demand payment from the owner because there is no proof that there was a contract with the owner. Remember, the contract, if there is one, is with the driver. further, the car park operator has no right to demand that the owner fess up the name of the driver of the car at the relevant time. NB. this differs from a statutory fine for a parking or camera offence. In these cases there is statute law that deems the owner to be the driver unless they provide details of who actually was the driver at the relevant time – usually by stat dec
    Now, if the car park operator does anything that suggests that the owner rather than the driver is liable to pay the damages, then the car park operator is engaging in false, misleading or deceptive conduct.
    So, the moral of the story is this – DO NOT admit that you were the driver of the vehicle. And don't say anything.

    • +4 votes

      They WILL pursue the owner of the vehicle to pay the "fine" - so let the owner know that they will receive multiple letters demanding payment with escalating $'s if not paid by a certain date etc & threats to take them to court, to send the "sheriff" around to get the money you owe them etc - so the owner needs to be prepared for all that crap. The owner can send them a letter saying they were not the driver of the vehicle at that time & place but DON'T engage in any other correspondence AT ALL. It took over 18 months for them to stop sending me letters (I assume it is all automated..). If the owner is willing to put up with this harassment for this long, then that is good - if not, then pay up now & make it go away!

      • -24 votes

        The owner is ALWAYS responsible for thier car. Same deal as hire cars.
        The offense is always passed onto the driver however the owner remains responsible for the fine at all times. This is a parking offense. Not a traffic offense.
        As an example Hire car companies will pay the fine and charge your credit card. Its in the contract.
        So OP is oblidged to pay the fine
        Only exception is if the car was proven to be stolen at the time

        • +15 votes

          The owner is ALWAYS responsible for thier car.

          This is NOT true. In the event of a civil case (which this is) the person responsible for the damages must be the person named in any court proceedings. The owner of the vehicle has no obligation to provide the actual driver's details. So the company suing for damages must be able to prove that a particular person was driving - whether it was the vehicle owner or not. And this is almost impossible to prove without some sort of admission. Hence the past failure of these court cases.

        • +1 vote

          @bobbified:
          These days CCTV is everywhere, what if the carpark has a recording of the owner leaving the vehicle?

        • +1 vote

          @greyeye:

          What you say about CCTV is true, but we're not talking about a murder investigation here.

          Even if someone was employed to sit there and look through all the surveillance videos, how would someone know who's who and if it's the owner or not?

          Certain states have taken steps by introducing legislation to prevent these private car parks from obtaining personal information to identify vehicle owners.

          Even if you take that the identification out of the equation, there's still very little chance winning a court case. Especially where they need to ascertain whether a contract was even entered into by having a sign at the entrance (previous court arguments have even raised the issue of the size of the text, etc - there's a whole bunch of arguments that can be had here). If it is determined that the "contract" is valid, then the next step would be to quantify the amount of "damages" caused by the vehicle being there, which would be a whole new mission.

          All this for $77? I don't think so!

        • +2 votes

          @greyeye: yup so if they ever take you to court to spend thousands of dollars on legal fees to recoup the $3 that you didn't pay them initially, they'll have cctv evidence most likely. But the fact is they won't do that because spending thousands to potentially make a few dollars is a pretty terrible money making strategy.
          I've had a similar fine before. The legal advice I was given was ignore it. They did end up sending me a letter and I ignored that. Haven't heard from it since. They will sometimes continue to harass you with letters and potentially fony debt collectors of even legal threats. But they're empty threats and they'll give up eventually.
          If you write anything to them you'll just end up admitting fault or even if you don't you'll just verify that they've got your contact details correct and send you more crap.

  • +5 votes

    Great comments and all correct advice in here. My philosophy: when in doubt DO NOTHING.

      • +32 votes

        Please send me $1000 immediately. You have caused me to have a headache, and I am claiming $1000 from you in damages to alleviate my pain. Be aware that doing nothing will land you in hot water over this transgression. I will not go away, just deal with this claim responsibly and send me money because I said so!

        • +3 votes

          I should distribute this all over Amayzinone's street. There might be a few in the area who'll pay up.

        •  

          Now you're in trouble. He doesn't believe in doing nothing. Expect bikies!

        • -2 votes

          You guys are so irresponsible. You do the wrong thing then come here looking for ways to get out of it.

  • +3 votes

    This is a website every motorist should be aware of:
    https://sites.google.com/site/unfairfines/about

    QUOTE
    We are a group of writers and bloggers. We not lawyers - this website is not meant to be taken as advice - neither legal advice nor general advice. Rather, it is an aggregation of information from various consumer rights websites including Victorian Consumer Affairs, Consumer Action Law Center, the ACCC ASIC, and from Sean Hardy's website. Sean Hardy is a practicing Victorian Barrister who gives free advice through his website forum.
    UNQUOTE

    On the left, select "Private Companies" and view the entry for TMS.

  • +2 votes

    Does the carpark employ clamping? Because if they do you may find your car clamped next time you park there and will have to pay $xxx to have it removed.

    • +1 vote

      If this is a private car park, then it is illegal for the operators to touch your car. They have no power to do anything except recover their "costs" via a court action which they won't do as they have not been successful in any such action anywhere in Australia & the amount they can actually claim is far smaller than the cost of going to court. They cannot impound, tow, clamp your car - if they do, you can prosecute them. Only Council or Government Car Parks have these powers.

      • +1 vote

        Angle grinder is cheaper than the supposed fine.

      • +2 votes

        Wilson carparks clamp tyres. They are not council or government run.

        And I can confirm 100% that private carparks can clamp wheels. There is a restaurant in Victoria Park that has an unused lot close by. There are signs saying 'no parking - clamping in use' but people still park there. People who park there get clamped.

        •  

          Yes, WA is a bit behind the rest of the country, the activity hasn't been declared illegal there yet. Other states have recognized it is a shady activity, holding your property to ransom and demanding payment before giving it back to you. That's just theft or a shakedown, illegal any other time. They are working in a grey area of the law and trying it on — just because it hasn't been formally declared illegal, it doesn't make it legal. So yes, they DO clamp cars when they feel a transgression has occurred. They just don't have any right to do so. I could slash the tyres of a car if I feel transgressed by another driver, it doesn't justify the action though and it is still illegal.

      • +1 vote

        They cannot impound, tow, clamp your car

        Oh com'on, you're saying that councils are the only people who can tow your car? Jeez, 99% of tow truck companies would be out of a job if this was the case. Of course private companies can get your car towed if you're on their property, blocking their driveway, or a few other reasons. Same with clamping, etc.

        •  

          Tow trucks principally tow vehicles committing parking offences in clearway etc. These are under the control of government agencies or councils & are given the power to tow, fine etc.

          Check out this information from legal advisors….https://www.lawanswers.com.au/threads/parking-on-private-property-have-the-car-towed.1559/

          So, you can't really tow a car if you are a private individual/company. Besides, where would you tow it to? You will find a tow truck driver will refuse to tow it unless you have evidence that you can do it legally.

          I know it sounds reasonable that you should be able to tow a car if it is on your property or your driveway but you can't unless you can show it has been abandoned, been involved in a crime etc & then you have to get the police to do it or the council or the rta or equivalent.s

        •  

          I live in Brisbane in an apartment building. There is a small car park for visitors and there are several signs warning visitors if they stay longer than 8 hours they'll have their car towed. What's more, every car must have a piece of paper visible stating date, time, phone number and unit visited. Failing to do so the car is towed as well. I've seen dozens of cars being towed, including my friend's, who forgot to leave the note at the car and had to pay $600 to pick up the car. I remember at the time i posted here at ozbargain and everyone who replied said there was nothing we could do to recover the money spent with the towing company because they were following the bylaws of the building.

        • +1 vote

          @ragms: The QLD government is suppose to be changing the rules for towing this year to get rid of the cowboys and cap the towing fees ($250), as they are not fines. Also stopping people with criminal records getting towing licences. Possibly rules have already changed as that was back in August of this year.

          I heard one story where a towing company was towing cars from a privately owned vacant lot. The owner of the land was rung up and did not know the towing company was doing this on his land.

  • +2 votes

    If this is a private car-park then essentially you can ignore this notice completely if you want to. This isn't a fine really they are just hoping you will pay it but won't do much if you don't. If you do plan to go down this path make absolutely no contact with them, just throw their fine in the bin and move on. They don't know who you are yet and it isn't legal to find out without a court order. I very much doubt they will clamp or tow you or anything like that if you continue to park their. Towing your car would essentially be theft and not justified by "They failed to pay me $77 for overstaying the limits outlined in the conditions of entry" and similarly clamping your car would be a ridiculous overstepping of their rights and would be grounds to call the cops on them and demand they release your car.

    As mentioned elsewhere what they would need to do to force you to cough up $77 is the following
    1 - Go to court to get your details from your rego
    2 - Contact you directly and ask you to pay them $77 and should that fail
    3 - Take you to court and in court prove that you caused them damages and have a judge agree
    Totally worth it for $77…. I'm no lawyer so they could conceivably tack on their costs but not sure that is a guaranteed event.

    If this is a council carpark then you aren't going to go so well. They already know who you are and where you live and they will get in touch if you don't pay and your fines will increase. Yes eventually they will send the sheriff to clamp you or do other nasty things to make you pay increasingly expensive fines.

    • +4 votes

      3 - Take you to court and in court prove that you caused them damages and have a judge agree

      And considering the OP is talking about returning to their car at midnight, I highly doubt they could prove the OP stopped a paying customer from parking, so good luck demonstrating their damages. Maybe if it was 8AM on Boxing Day…

      • +4 votes

        They are probably more upset about the fact he was parked there for hours before midnight, at a time the car park was possibly full. His presence prevented a paying customer from parking there. I don't know why that makes his presence any more annoying than having the other spaces all occupied by other paying customers. He has just as much right to go about his business (to go to work) as they do (go shopping). Without him there to start with, there would not be any shops open for them to shop at anyway.

        •  

          This is very true, and I did consider that. But in saying that, a shopping center's car park is generally only at capacity on Saturday between 10am-3pm (outside of seasonal periods, ie. Christmas). For the OP to be leaving at midnight, I wouldn't expect them to have created much of an issue for paying customers.

          In saying that, I personally do think that employees/employers should be parking at the farther away option, but that probably just comes back to my customer service background and bending over backwards to ensure a pleasant experience for the customer.

  • +14 votes

    Just call and tell them this…

    "I know who you are. I know what you want.
    If you are looking for the parking fine, I can tell you I don't have money.
    But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career.
    Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.
    If you forget the whole thing now, that'll be the end of it.
    I will not look for you, I will not pursue you.
    But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will make you pay that fine."

    Use appropriately low monotones.

  • +1 vote

    Can't believe no one's mentioned it yet, this being Ozbargain and all, ….. was it the 80k car from that Westpac guy, that you were driving, OP?

    • +3 votes

      nah he would've invested in a private car parking spot close to office. You know, the ones that show importance and dedication with the "Reserved for ABC-123"

  1. Tejas57 on 12/11/2017 - 00:41
  2. oscargamer on 11/11/2017 - 18:04
  3. endotherm on 12/11/2017 - 13:27
  4. airzone on 11/11/2017 - 18:02
  5. The Land of Smeg on 12/11/2017 - 22:12
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