Car clamp or theft?

BearPear

Veteran
Location
God's Own County
I am hoping that the CCers can help me today after we had a bit of a nightmare last night.

We took our son and his mate to see Pendulum at the Doncaster Dome last night, we then drove into town for some tea and a mosey round. We parked in a marked-out parking area with a sign up saying "Free Parking Saturday Only" and written on by hand "closed 9am to 6pm". It was about 7.45pm at that time. and we assumed that it must be "open" as it was after 6pm. There were no barriers to the parking area.

We returned at about 10pm to find that the car had gone. We asked a bouncer in a nearby bar where the nearest police station and told him what had happened and he said that cars were being removed from the area we had parked, so that was more likely than theft. We drive an 09 Passatt estate with a fob, not a key and there was no glass so removal rather than theft looks to be likely.

So we spend ages ringing all the 4 numbers on the sign we found, leaving messages but no response then or now. We asked a passing police van and they basically said that it happens all the time! We then had to get a taxi to collect our son and his mate, then to take us home - cost £60. The sign that we found said that release cost £100, removal of a clamp was £70. I am expecting £100 but the policeman said it was nearer £300!!

So, we are now 50 miles away from a clamper who's phone message says that it is only open 12-2 today, who we can only presume has our car. Luckily we have 2 cars and when Mr BP returns from his morning cycle we will be off to Doncaster hoping to retrieve the car. Totally bummed, feel very sick and somehow have a feeling that we won't see our car today. What would be the best way to proceed - the only address I have for the company is one off the internet (PO box only on the notice). I have no idea if our car will be there or off-site somewhere. Grrrrr.
 

PBancroft

Senior Member
Location
Winchester
My first reaction? Get back to the site and take photographs of all signage quick. It may be useful in preparing an argument against clampers who have removed your car outside of the notified timeframes (it also gives you a chance to check that you read it correctly!).

It may be useful, it may not.
 
OP
BearPear

BearPear

Veteran
Location
God's Own County
Just rung the police who tell me that it has been removed (different company name to that on the sign). They are still not returning any calls. I took pictures of the signs last night - the one which took the eye was the "Free Parking Saturday" one, the other was on black board and wasn't obvious at the time. I feel physically sick which is a bit lame considering that nobody is hurt, but it is infuriating that they won't even call back - all the while racking up their fees.
 

PBancroft

Senior Member
Location
Winchester
Keep a record of everything this is costing you, including telephone calls. I doubt you'll get hold of them today if I'm honest. You may want to see if you can get an appointment with the Citizens Advice Bureau tomorrow.

It sounds like they have displayed insufficient signage which may be a cause for getting the car returned for free, and your expenses repayed too. If not, and if they are advising the release fee is £100 it should be £100 and not a penny more... but I am not a lawyer, so don't really know what is right and what isn't on that front.
 

thomas

the tank engine
Location
Woking/Norwich
Kaipaith said:
Keep a record of everything this is costing you, including telephone calls. I doubt you'll get hold of them today if I'm honest. You may want to see if you can get an appointment with the Citizens Advice Bureau tomorrow.

It sounds like they have displayed insufficient signage which may be a cause for getting the car returned for free, and your expenses repayed too. If not, and if they are advising the release fee is £100 it should be £100 and not a penny more... but I am not a lawyer, so don't really know what is right and what isn't on that front.

Assuming the signs were visible and in good locations then by parking there you agree to a contract. However, if all it says is that the car park is closed, I would say they wouldn't have any legs to stand on.

If it mentioned that cars would be clamped after hours with a set fee (or fees) and these signs weren't hidden behind a load of wheelie bins, then by parking there you've agreed to the contract.

Or at least that is my understanding :biggrin:
 
OP
BearPear

BearPear

Veteran
Location
God's Own County
I understand that if we go into that carpark we are entering some kind of contract, but the huge eye-catching sign was Free Parking on Saturdays!

The problem is that we need the car - we live 50 miles from Doncaster and both need to be in work tomorrow, this needs to be resolved today. I have a feeling that they will charge for over-night storage BUT they never gave us an opportunity to get it back last night and they STILL haven't returned any calls today, I had to ring the police to establish that it hadn't been stolen. How can they expect me to arrange to pay them their fee if they don't even let me know that they have my car??!!
 
YOU could seek advice from the British Parking Association who issue guidelines and minimum stsndards (se link and PDF links form here.

Whilst the chances of a Cowboy being a member of this organisation the documents are useful in obtaining evidence and proving that they have failed to act in a reasonable manner should you decide to takethis further.

First thing is to contact the Security Industry Authority and get details of the Company's License as accordingto the Home Office website

An SIA licence is required if you undertake the licensable activities of a vehicle immobiliser.

Unless your employer or company has been given an exemption under Section 4(4) of the Private Security Industry Act 2001, it is a criminal offence to undertake the licensable activities of a vehicle immobiliser without an SIA licence. An exemption is applicable only where the company in question has been granted approved contractor status by the SIA and the other conditions of Section 4(4) have also been met. Every condition must be met for this section to be applied.
However there are some loopholes than an be utilised to avoid this... so again the case may not be clear cut.
 

Gerry Attrick

Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant
Trading Standards are hopeless for dealing with these cowboys. The BPA will not advise or assist the public as they are a trade body. You need to do some thorough research here but the only way you are likely to progress ultimately is through the County Court.

As I said, a couple of hours researching Pepipoo will pay off.
 
OP
BearPear

BearPear

Veteran
Location
God's Own County
Got the car, £280 lighter. Scumbags. Went back and took extra photos to back up our appeal. Even though it is a bright sunny day, I have a black, angry heart today!!
 
OP
BearPear

BearPear

Veteran
Location
God's Own County
I have developed a theory as today has progressed. I think that they take a couple of cars every night (they had lifted one other with ours) = £560 per night = £10,000+ a month. The reason why they never answered the phone numbers last night is because they had their quota of cars and turned the phones off.

I said to the bloke today that they should at least answer the phone - he said that they make that clear on the message - they don't, the message says that you can "arrange collection 9-5 Mon-Sat and 12-2 on Sundays" they don't say that they will not speak to you outside those times - so clamping and/or removing your car outside those times guarantees them a removal & storage fee because the phones are turned off!!

I would hate to think what would have happened if I had been alone in that situation - I'm no wimp but having a car disappear 50 miles from home with no note to say what had happened wouldn't be nice. Luckily I tracked them down on the internet, but some old duffer with no mobile and no tech skills would be stuffed. GGGrrrrrrrr.
 
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