Getting out of parking tickets: Wilson/PES parking "fine" guide/thread

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    #1

    Getting out of paying parking tickets: Wilson/PES parking "fine" guide/thread

    You do not have to pay any infringement fee or fine requested by private companies for parking in private car parks. As private parking companies (such as Wilson Parking, Parking Enforcement Services, Elite Parking etc.) are not a statutory authority, there is no law to enforce such “fee”; therefore you not legally obliged to pay in most cases. Section 1 will cover the steps to getting out of paying the ticket. Section 2 will cover my personal experiences dealing with private parking companies to show how it all works.

    Please note:
    1. This guide only addresses what the industry calls “parking enforcement notices” or "infringement fees" made by private companies on private land. (I believe that the term "fine" is not used by parking companies as it appears to be reserved for actual breaches of law. I use the term "fine" and "fee" interchangeably, but they mean the same from here on in.)

    2. Anything on public land, or land that is owned and operated by a lawful public entity such as the city council is covered by legislation and therefore there are legal obligations to comply (see Land Transport Act, Road User Rule, Local Government Act). It is currently undetermined if council managed private car parks are subject to the same laws.

    Section 1: Guide on how not to pay

    This section describes 4 lines of defense. Defense 1 is the easiest and most effective, and defense 4 is seen as the last and ultimate method to defend yourself against the tickets.

    Defense 1: Stop the parking company from getting your information

    The gist of this defense is to stop parking companies from getting your personal information, since they initially do not know the owner of the vehicle and therefore who to fine. Parking companies try methods to get your information:
    - (A): They look up the number plate information on NZTA's Motor Vehicle Register, or
    - (B): Tricking you into revealing your information when appealing the ticket.

    To stop method (A): Revoke authorization on the NZTA Motor Vehicle Register
    Parking companies can look up the plate information on the Motor Vehicle Register for a price, usually on an annual basis (some debt collection companies even offer your information for as little as $6.50 as seen here.)
    To stop this, revoke authorized access to personal information via the NZTA website here. It is easy, free and quick to do. You will need your drivers license to fill out the information. When revoked, only statutory authorities such as the local council, the police or the courts have access.
    While it's still technically possible for private companies to get your information, they have to appeal to NZTA in writing with your full name and must prove that it's in the public interest to reveal your information as seen here and here. In almost every case NZTA will not give out your information due to the New Zealand Privacy Act. Opting out can prevent legitimate use of getting your information from the register, such as for insurers and finance companies, but you can always opt in later by contacting NZTA.

    To stop method (B), do not give them your information while appealing the ticket (or do not appeal in the first place)
    Appealing a ticket with private parking companies (like PES) usually requires you to put in your name, address and phone number. The appeal pages are often cleverly written (with labeled textbox fields etc.) to give the impression that you must provide this information to complete your appeal. This is false. I do not recommend appealing a ticket unless there is an obvious reason to why you should not be ticketed (for example, the ticket wasn't visible but you did pay for parking etc.) The reason I do not recommend appealing is that you are at the whim of whoever processes your appeal. If you really must contact them, use initials, email as physical address, etc. so that should your appeal be rejected, you are still protected by not having revealed your information.

    If you've followed (A) and (B) in a timely manner, you have most likely succeeded. If they have your information, they will send you paper in the mail (see section 2). If you do not get anything in the mail within 1-2 weeks, you've most likely gotten out of paying! Congratulations! If they send you stuff in the mail, read on...

    Defense 2: Proving evidence
    Most tickets can be blocked with defense 1, but sometimes you have to employ other methods.
    Parking companies have the burden of proof to provide evidence that your car trespassed on their property without consent. For example, they must provide good evidence that:
    - (A): The car was actually parked at a specific location: For example, a picture that includes the vehicle and the relevant signage of the parking amount (e.g. 60min zone).
    - (B): The car belongs to you: The registration and ownership of vehicle must be correct. Things as the make and color of the vehicle must also match.
    - (C): The car was recorded: It must show that the vehicle has overstayed, e.g. a time stamped photograph of the pay and display parking, or photographic proof of the vehicle before and after, measuring the time periods (chalk markings may not be sufficient).
    Basically, everything they provide must be consistent. If there are any mistakes or discrepancies, this defense is easy to hold. Obviously this method of defense is not applicable in every case.

    Defense 3: Contract denial
    The third form of defense is to deny that the contract was “fair and reasonable" under the Consumer Guarantees Act and Fair Trading Act. Since there is no specific legislation on what is considered adequate notice of contract, it is possible to argue that there is no valid contract between you and the parking company by entering the car park. The most common argument is to purport that the signage or the terms and conditions for the car park (the contract) was not present or not clear. For example, if where your park lacks signage or was obscured, or the actual contract sign is not visible when entering the car park, you have good case provide this defense. Likewise, this method of defense is not applicable in every case. However, do not worry and read on!

    Defense 4: Actual damages
    Assuming that defense 1, 2 and 3 fails, the final ultimate defense is to argue that the fee is not a genuine estimation of loss or actual damages. Under the Frustrated Contract Act, companies cannot penalize or otherwise leverage payment other than actual liquidated damages. Liquidated damage is damage (or loss of profit) as a result of the contract being broken. For example, if a vehicle overstayed 2 hours at a $2 per hour parking lot that was full and resulted in customers being turned away, then the liquidated damage is about $4 and some admin costs. However, most “fines” are in the realm of $60-80. Companies must prove that your car had cost them by the loss of business or operating costs. Even if you are to consider administrative charges of $20, $60-80 is definitely not justifiable as liquidated damages and is obviously punitive and therefore they must prove that it cost them. No level of contract nor tort law can circumvent the fact that they have the burden of proof for showing their cost. If they can’t show the cost (which they most likely cannot, due to the nature of most parking circumstances), you don’t have to pay the unreasonable fees. However, it may be advisable to offer to pay a smaller amount, perhaps $10 depending on the circumstances (don’t actually send them payment unless they agree that it’s sufficient). You must also dispute liability of the requested amount in writing. This is important to stop the debt collection process.

    Section 2: My encounter with Wilson Parking, PES and Credit Consultants


    Talk is cheap. Therefore, this section will cover my personal dealings with PES and and how I avoided paying the fees. I did not employ defense 1 so I could test defense 2 and 4. Defense 3 was not relevant in my case. I was issued the parking enforcement notice:

    Exhibit 1
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    The nasty surprise attached to your wiper...

    I immediately appealed and argued defense 2 and made them give whatever evidence they had. After some exchanges of me accusing them of insufficient evidence, they were starting to send me the same letter over and over again, outlining that they cannot waive the fee:

    Exhibit 2
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    The infamous copy-paste letter sent to everyone who appeals

    Many people get the same exact letter as above. It tells of half-truths about contracts being binding and enforceable and that their fee isn’t a “fine” because it is what is written on the contract itself and not a secondary sort of punishment. They also suggested that breaches are enforceable and have been contested and upheld in the Disputes Tribunal. However, I do not think this is true, as I cannot find any cases where PES had bought someone to court over non-payment and won (please post if you have any information regarding this). It does not make sense for them to file a case against you anyway, as it would cost them $45 just to contest it.

    I reasoned that defense 3 wouldn't hold much, so I skipped to defense 4 in my case. Every time they sent me the above, I sent it back with the following letter attached:

    Exhibit 3
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    A reply disputing liability

    A few weeks later, they sent me the following:

    Exhibit 4
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    Copy-paste letter for more penalties

    I continued to send back their letters with my own letter outlined in exhibit 3.
    A while later, PES began to involve debt collectors, the Credit Consultants who started to send me letters:

    Exhibit 5
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    The Credit Consultants first letter

    I naturally responded by sending the received letters back in addition to including my own letter:

    Exhibit 6
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    Disputing liability (again)

    The credit consultants then got crafty and sent me the following two letters, one demanding payment and a missing person letter, along with another copy-paste letter from PES (exhibit 2):

    Exhibit 7
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    Maybe they thought that sending me the copy-paste letter from exhibit 3 would convince me?

    Exhibit 8
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    My name was in the bits blacked out, quite ominous really. I can see how this could be threatening.

    I responded by sending both letters back, along with my normal explanation letter and my own version of the missing person letter:

    Exhibit 9
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    I retract my initial voluntary payment offer to cover printing and postage costs

    Exhibit 10
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    Christine Hyett is the debt collectors managing director. The 0800 number is their company phone number


    After this, they have stopped sending me any letters. It seems that PES and the Credit Consultants have given up.

    My ultimate advice is to employ defense 1 ASAP, but if that fails, do not budge on your initial denial of payment, as parking companies are not a statutorily authority and have no legal basis to enforce their punitive fees. Deny liability. Should debt collectors come after you, dispute liability and say you will file against them to the Privacy Commission should there be any default on your credit. Debt collection agencies cannot recover fees that are in dispute. Complaints can be filed here.

    More information regarding parking disputes can be found on the Consumer Protection website.

    I do not condone acts of trespass by parking on private land due fees not being really enforceable. One ought to use private land with respect and with permission; otherwise companies may start employing other tactics like clamping. I'm all for paying $2-3 dollars for parking should I need it. However, I am against companies outright ripping people off and obviously profiting from doing so, when their fines are not legally binding.

    Please feel free to post any advice that may also benefit others. There is also another discussion thread from 2015: here.

    Edit: I have received another enforcement notice, and it has been repelled again. See page 5 on this thread.
    Last edited by Senior Mouse; 30th July 2018 at 6:57 pm. Reason: Updating with new information

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    #2
    HOF. Custom tag.


  3. Post
    #3
    Also in before news outlets steal this and never credit GP.

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    #4
    copy and pasted to dropbox for future reference.. cheers SM!!

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    #5
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    #6
    This is aaron-afk levels of badassery, kudos sir.

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    #7
    Keen to hear what happens in the future (that's if PES/CC decide to take further action), so keep us updated OP.

    You reckon it would be worth taking it to fair go?

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    #8
    Interesting, would love to see how far you get with this haha.

  9. Post
    #9
    A+, would read again.

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    #10
    ChizzBo wrote:
    Keen to hear what happens in the future (that's if PES/CC decide to take further action), so keep us updated OP.

    You reckon it would be worth taking it to fair go?
    I will consider it should they try to take legal action against me. I have also informed the Commerce Commission regarding this. They have sent me this in response:
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    I didn't include this in my initial post as it wasn't really relevant to actually not having to pay PES.

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    #11
    +1 internets for you sir!

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    #12
    God mode achieved. Hof!

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    #13
    Even to paying customers Wilsons are complete a-holes.

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    #14
    Hof!hof!hof!

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    #15
    Good on you OP. Please keep us updated.

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    #16
    Correct me if I am wrong.

    Reading the link below, if I choose to opt out and have my details withheld, those with authorization can still get the information, they just have to request it manually to the Transport Agency?
    I imagine Wilson would just request the information from the Transport Agency and get it anyway.

    Source:
    https://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicles/ho...r-information/

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    #17
    Just for the sake of thread completeness, I want to propose method 4:

    Buy out at least 80% of the shares in Wilsons and/or PES to get a supermajority sharehold in the company. Call an emergency shareholder meeting. Fire the directors. Appoint yourself. Pass an order to cancel your own fine. Fire any employees who refuse.

  18. Post
    #18
    I had admittedly over-parked in a 180min free parking zone by about an hour or two.
    You took the piss and they got the hump. I'm not fking surprised they sent you letters/tried to get money out of you.

  19. Post
    #19
    MXRecord wrote:
    Correct me if I am wrong.

    Reading the link below, if I choose to opt out and have my details withheld, those with authorization can still get the information, they just have to request it manually to the Transport Agency?
    I imagine Wilson would just request the information from the Transport Agency and get it anyway.

    Source:
    https://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicles/ho...r-information/
    According to NZTA,
    "Opting-out means that a person with an authorisation must specifically request the individual's name and address from the Transport Agency. The Transport Agency will then weigh up the public interest in releasing the individual's details against their privacy." As seen here: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicles/ho...r-information/

    Basically, it makes it much harder for companies to be able to get information just based on the registration of the vehicle (if not impossible).

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    #20
    Just for your sake - if you're appearing to admit some form of liability, like on an internet thread, and someone were to e-mail either PES/debt collectors with links to your post...

  21. Post
    #21
    thesurge wrote:
    Just for your sake - if you're appearing to admit some form of liability, like on an internet thread, and someone were to e-mail either PES/debt collectors with links to your post...
    I've already admitted to having trespassed by employing defense 3. PES or Wilson don't have much more information to gain from viewing this thread since so it shouldn't be a problem. I guess I'll taken the risk to inform others though.

  22. Post
    #22
    People should pay what they owe - a private car parking business is not a charity. But I agree that late fees should be on a cost recovery basis and not punitive.

  23. Post
    #23
    One of the things that really amuses me in NSW is that (with the exception of clearways) it's illegal to tow a car without the owner's permission - essentially making any carpark with public access a free for all (so signs like "tow away zone" and "Customer parking only" are completely irrelevant.

  24. Post
    #24
    Tony Cipriani wrote:
    People should pay what they owe - a private car parking business is not a charity..
    If they operate within the law. They technically aren't.

    - - - Updated - - -

    KevinL wrote:
    One of the things that really amuses me in NSW is that (with the exception of clearways) it's illegal to tow a car without the owner's permission - essentially making any carpark with public access a free for all (so signs like "tow away zone" and "Customer parking only" are completely irrelevant.
    Gotta look up the law in VIC.

  25. Post
    #25
    ChineseKiwi wrote:

    Gotta look up the law in VIC.
    Soz bro http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/v...6125/s90b.html