Friday, 22 August 2014

Large number of Parking Companies lying to POPLA following BPA Ltd Training

In early 2014 it was apparent that Parking companies were facing a crisis. Almost all cases at POPLA were lost when the issue of parking charges was raised. The one or two that were won were found to be inconsistent judgments made by inexperienced adjudicators before their training was complete.

The British Parking Association Ltd, therefore ran a number of training camps for operators. No independent monitors were allowed to attend, despite requests, and the DVLA also decided not to send representatives to ensure the sessions were run correctly.

Sadly, following those sessions a number of operators have been spotted trying to scam POPLA by putting in similarly worded fake accounts of their costs. It is not clear whether this is the result of instructions at the BPA Ltd training sessions, or whether the operators have all latched on to one company's anomalous POPLA results and decided to copy their cost document.

As a starting point, these new descriptions of 'genuine pre-estimate of loss' cannot possibly be genuine. if they were, they would have been calculated before the parking charges were set; in most cases this would be pre 1 October 2012. That is what the 'pre' means in pre-estimate. Instead, these calculations have been made after the signage was installed, and in many cases even after the parking event. The operators have sent in large numbers of different explanations of their charges, until they finally hit on a formula that has produced a few strange decisions by the more inexperienced POPLA operators.

It is no credit to POPLA that they have swallowed these lies and continually allowed parking operators to change their tune. If their current explanations are 'true' then the previous 15 or so variations must by definition be false. No action by POPLA or the BPA Ltd has to this point been taken against operators trying to defraud motorists by producing false information to POPLA.

The particular formula currently in vogue by operators is to expand their appeal and POPLA costs until they total the amount of the parking charge.

This is flawed approach for the following reasons.

1) The initial cost is incorrect
If it costs around £5 to issue a charge and £95 to process an appeal, then the correct charging structure is an initial charge of £5, increasing to £100 if not paid before an appeal.

If the charge is £60 increasing to £100, then the motorist is correct at the time of appeal in stating that the £60 is not a genuine pre-estimate of loss

2) Parking Companies can artificially inflate time needed
If they wanted to, Parking companies could justify any charge by instructing their minions to spend an artificial time on appeals, or by using artificially highly paid employees to process the appeal. The Prankster has visited a number of parking companies and it seems a genuine time needed to process a POPLA appeal by an efficient company is around an hour. Pretty much all appeal reasons will have been seen by now by a parking company, so it is just a matter of getting the right template paragraphs, pulling in the signage and other relevant information, and sticking it together in the right order. This does not take a highly paid employees in any of the organisations the prankster visited.

3) The amounts are not in proportion
Only around 1% of cases are appealed to POPLA. Therefore to be accurate the costs must be adjusted proportionately. If a company state a POPLA appeal costs £66, then the true average cost is 66p.

4) The amounts are not accurate. 
Parking companies claim huge costs which are simply not believable. For instance, Excel v Cutts establishes that Excel issue about 4,000 tickets a year at the Peel Centre, generating £240,000 to £400,000 a year in charges. One percent of this is 40 tickets. 40 tickets appealed to POPLA a year can easily be dealt with by one part-time appeal handler. If they took an hour per appeal, they could knock them all out in a week. Even an outrageous 3 hours per appeal will leave them with 49 weeks of the year off. Total cost? Something around £400-£2,400, depending on wage levels.

Luckily the more experienced POPLA assessors are cottoning onto this scam. However, it is clear that appealing to POPLA now is not just a matter of stating 'the charge is not a genuine pre-estimate of loss' Instead, once you get the appeal pack it is now necessary to send a rebuttal in case you are unlucky enough to get one of the weaker assessors who are not up to speed on the parking company scams.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Have you received a costs document from a parking company falsely claiming that over 50% of their costs are due to appeal handling? If so, please email a copy to The Prankster at


  1. If anyone is doing their own appeal and needs a current or previous loss document please email us and if we have the one you need we will send it over to you.

  2. In this context it may be interesting to look at a similar charges scam around subletting fees for leasehold properties, where the freeholder claims to incur significant costs in dealing with those requests and thus asks the leaseholder for up to £135 to, put in simple terms, lodge a document in their database.

    The Upper Tribunal has made short shrift with those claims and the decision can be found here:

    The interesting part is the following:

    "12. It is said that in each case an application for consent is processed by the appellant’s agents. The procedure adopted is claimed to be extensive: the agents will undertake a perusal of a copy of the under-lease to ensure that the appropriate covenants are contained within it. Once completed, the full details
    of the under-lease will be entered by the agents in their records and will pass the appropriate information to the property managers, who need a complete current record of the occupants of all the flats.

    13. In each case, it is said, the work comprises: (i) seeking legal advice from in-house lawyers in connection with the drafting of all documents; (ii) perusing each lease and determining the requirements for consent under it; (iii) requesting the proposed tenancy documents, examining them, and ascertaining appropriate requirements; (iv) engaging in correspondence, email
    communications and dealing with telephone queries; (v) the execution of documents, such as the recording of all information, utilisation of IT
    infrastructure and lease storage and retrieval. After the grant of consent all documents are scanned onto the appellants’ database. In each case the work involved is undertaken by trained administrators under the supervision of
    qualified legal staff. It is not possible, when so many applications have to be processed, to set either an hourly rate or a charge out rate. It is estimated, however, that an administrator will spend approximately two hours dealing with the application and the legal department about one hour.

    17. The appellants seek to justify the consent fee in terms that apply to all consents, and they do so by setting out (see paragraph 13 above) a list of work that, it is claimed, their agents do. It looks to me to be a list of
    all the things that could conceivably be done in connection with the grant of consent rather than the things that would need to be done in a typical case or that were in fact done in the cases under consideration. [...] I am wholly unpersuaded by the appellant’s assertion that it would have been necessary for an administrator to spend approximately two hours dealing with the application and the legal department about one hour. In the absence of any information on the part of the appellant as to what was actually done, by whom and how long it took, I am not satisfied that a fee of £105 for the grant of consent in addition to fees for the covenant was justified or that consent could reasonably have been refused in the event that Mrs Norton had refused
    to pay it. The same goes in relation to Dr Rudnay. Doing the best I can on what is before me, I conclude that a fee greater than £40 plus VAT could not be justified, and I determine that this amount is payable. In relation to the other
    two cases a fee of £135 was sought – higher than the £105 because, it was said, the consent was a retrospective one. The appellants have done nothing to show that in these two cases extra costs were incurred. I therefore determine that the amount payable in each case is £40 plus VAT."