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Guest post: abusive parking companies – “one of the worst years of my life”

“When I parked in the local pub car park just down the road, I had no idea that the year ahead of me was going to be filled with confusion, misery, countless emails, and the swift end of my plan to buy my first home.”

“A misery not only from conceding to the parking company’ s bullying tactics – and paying the £165 charge – but mostly from having a county court judgment against my name.

It has been one of the worst years of my life and it all started 14 months ago.

When I first saw the £100 parking charge on my doormat, I really had no idea where this charge had come from. The car park used to have no signs. I must have missed the new sign that was put up when I drove in.

I thought the parking charge ludicrously expensive. £100 for not buying a £1 ticket? The pub manager told me there was nothing he could do. Given I have a low income, I need to make every penny count. I appealed against the charge but lost.

I next received a court claim through from the company. I was very confused and did not understand whether this was real – I had never had any dealings with the courts before. I tried to get legal advice at the Citizens Advice Bureau, but they could not help me. I tried to phone the parking company, but with no success. Intimidated by the threats of further financial penalty and possible court action, with no recourse to legal aid, I decided to pay the charge so I could get on with my life.

I signed a document saying I would pay in installments, as that was all I could afford at the time. I paid off the charge within 2 months, and thought that was the end of the matter. I was looking forward to carrying on with my plan of buying a house, with the help of my father who has cancer.

About two months later, I received a notice from the court telling me I received a county court judgment. The court told me that the company had rejected my offer of paying in installments and sent my admission to the court for judgement against me.

I couldn’t understand how by making an admission and paying the charge – which was the result of their bullying and duress – I had received an even worse penalty – the county court judgment.

I was horrified when I spoke to two mortgage lenders who told me flatly I could forget my plan of buying a house for at least a year, even if the court judgment were to become marked as satisfied. In any event, they explained, any mortgage I would get would be at a higher interest rate. This was a massive blow, because as I say, I need to make every penny count.

After this, the legal nightmare began. I had to make my way through the court process to try and have the court judgment removed. Once again the Citizens Advice Bureau could not help me.

I am under pressure to move and may have to rent elsewhere in the mean time. I am upset that I have spent a significant amount of my time trying to reason with the company and remove their court judgment: time which ought to have been spent house hunting.”

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