Mr W had parked his car to take the train to work and used the RINGO service to pay. Unfortunately the RINGO service changed the usual order of cars it presented, which resulted in Mr W paying for a car he had sold some time ago.
Mr W appealed to PPS and to POPLA, both of which were rejected. It later transpired PPS had sent false evidence to POPLA, as the landowner witness statement they provided listed a different landowner to the contract they eventually produced in court.
Mr W tried to deal responsibly at all stages but was stonewalled by Gladstones with meaningless template replies which did not address any of the issues, and PPS proceeded at an unseemly pace to file a claim.
DJ Wakem was presiding with Mr W in the hot seat, and an assistant from the BMPA taking the role of McKenzie friend. Mr W is no stranger to the small claim court having won twice before so was happy to represent himself.
Mr Singh, fresh from losing in Cardiff the day before, appeared for the claimant. The judge was not best pleased that the claimant's witness Barrie Douglass was not attending and was further taken aback when Mr Singh complained about the presence of the McKenzie friend. She asked what the grounds were and Mr Singh was rather embarrassed to explain there were no actual grounds but that he had been asked by Gladstones to complain anyway.
The judge quizzed the BMPA representative on the expected behaviour of a McKenzie friend which was passed with flying colours and the hearing commenced.
Mr Singh stated he was there to put the claimant's case and refute the defendants counterclaim. The judge looked puzzled and after some searching of papers stated there was no counterclaim. Mr Singh agreed that in that case he would just put the claimant's case.
The majority of facts were not in issue (although the witness statement contained the usual bunch of incompetent inaccuracies from Gladstones), so Mr Singh stated that the claimant were claiming for breach of contract because the defendant had used RingGo and accidentally paid for the wrong car. The judge passed over to the defendant.
The claimant witness statement falsely stated that "when a driver pays for parking by RingGo the registration number is always repeated back to the driver for confirmation". Mr W stated he disagreed with this and wished to refer to a RingGo transcript, page 5 in his evidence pack. He played a recording to the court.
Press 1 to pay for your grey car (beep, Mr W presses 1)
Enter the number of days to park (beep, Mr W presses 1)
Press 1 to choose your credit card ending xxxx (beep Mr W presses 1)
Thank you for calling. You have paid for 1 days parking.
The court was therefore satisfied that the registration number was never mentioned.
Mr Singh started a rambling story about how he paid using RingGo once himself, but realised he was getting nowhere and tailed off.
The judge then referred to the defence which claimed the contract did not provide the necessary information for distance contracts according to The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, and was therefore not binding according to clause 13(1) of the regulations.
She asked Mr W to comment on Gladstones claim he was not a consumer as per regulation 4. He explained he was, as he was commuting to work and HMRC does not classify commuting as part of employment.
She asked Mr W to comment on Gladstones claim that this was not a distance contract as the contract was not concluded by means of distance confirmation. Mr W referred to the guidance on the legislation which showed that in (FAQ A) a contract concluded by phone was typically a distance contract.
She asked Mr W to comment on Gladstones claim this was not a distance contract because the site was visited from time to time by one of their operatives. Mr W explained that the definition of distance contracts in paragraph 5 was that there must be face to face contact at the time the contract was concluded, which did not occur. A parking operative on site at random times in the day was not part of concluding a contract.
She asked why the distance contract conditions were not complied with and Mr W reeled of a list of 11 points from Schedule 2 or the legislation.
The judge asked Mr Singh if he had any comments. To his credit Mr Singh looked extremely embarrassed at the hospital pass of a case Gladstone's had given him, and that he had been asked by Gladstones to argue that a telephone was not a method of distance communication. He composed himself and stated that he had nothing to add that was not in his client's witness statement.
The judge then explained that there were interesting legal issues involved with distance contracts but that in her opinion the case could be dealt with simply.
Mr W had paid to park a grey car and had parked a grey car. There was therefore no breach of contract and the claim was dismissed. It was unfortunate for the client who were using technology not up to the job of allowing them to manage the parking efficiently, but their technology failure was not the responsibility of the motorist.
Costs of £108 were awarded to the defendant.
The defendant asked if he could claim £50 for his time as the claimant had asked for a similar amount 'because they spent time of the case which could have been better spent elsewhere'. The judge smiled and said she would not allow that, but that if the claimant had won, she would not have allowed it for them either.
The Prankster considers that Gladstones should not be attempting to win cases with lies, inaccuracies, half truths and dodgy legal arguments. That Will Hurley and John Davies believe a telephone is not a method of distance communication is not believable and frankly makes them appear like fools. The proper way to win a case is to present the truth, behave respectable and not try ambush tactics, and to let the judge decide on the facts.
If this is the kind of drivel Will Hurley and John Davies are telling the parking companies then this is not acceptable. A responsible ATA would be working with their customers to help them comply with legislation, and working to improve their signage. An ATA who tries to pull the wool over their clients eyes by pretending the signage complies with legislation and then makes money from their sister company by taking motorists to court has no place in society.
PPS will be an estimated £600 out of pocket as a result of this case. Had they won, they would still have been £400 down. There was no loss to them as Mr W paid for parking, and they could have cancelled the charge at zero cost to themselves. Contrary to their fatuous claim in their witness statement, cancelling the charge would not make parking management impossible; the only way to exploit the situation would be to park 2 cars every day and only pay for one, which is clearly not viable.
Gladstones are the only winner here. Perhaps the parking companies who use Gladstones should take a long hard look at the situation and ask what Will Hurley and John Davies motive really is.
The Parking Prankster