English Debt collectors are being drafted in to chase up unpaid parking fines for car parks across the north-east Scotland, a charity has claimed. Citizens Advice Scotland say that parking debt firm Debt Recovery Plus Ltd has been instructed to ensure that parking fines are being paid.
The Inverurie Garden Centre, Morrisons in King Street, Aberdeen and the Beach Boulevard Retail Centre are just a few of the businesses using Debt Recovery Plus to help collect the parking debts.
In the first half of the financial year for 2015/2016, CA Scotland has reported that they have been contacted on average nearly twenty times a day by members of the public about parking fines.
Charity advisers have said that letters seen from Debt Recovery Plus Ltd demand payment for tickets, often in excess of £100.
The charity warned motorists to be aware that £100 is the cap for fines that the two industry bodies (the British Parking Authority and Independent Parking Committee) allow motorists to be charged.
A spokesman said: “The letters go on to say if payment is not made the company will ‘recommend to the creditor that court action should be taken to recover what you owe’.”
Reported on the website Press Journal, Debt Recovery Plus insist they have followed the rules and that any fines are within industry guidelines.
A spokesman said: “We operate under and comply with both British Parking Association and Independent Parking Committee codes.
“Both codes allow for debt recovery action after the parking operator has unsuccessfully tried to collect a parking charge.
“The original charge will never be for more than £100 (reduced to £60 if paid within the first 14 days).
“We only add our fees after action by the parking operator has resulted in non-payment of the charge.
“This is not a new practice as we and other debt recovery companies have been collecting unpaid parking charges for over seven years.
“Local authorities also add fees and charges where a parking ticket issued by them remains unpaid.”
The spokesman for Citizen Advice Scotland Consumer Affairs Fraser Sutherland advised motorists to be vigilant for signs advising of time restrictions and charges.
He added: “The best way of avoiding these things is to check the signs on the car park so you don’t end up being hounded by these firms.”
He was echoed by the team at South West Aberdeenshire Citizens Advice Bureau, who said: “While the bureau has a degree of sympathy for businesses whose car parks are being used for the wrong reasons and denying their customers and employees space to park, some of the tactics used by parking companies have been unfair or misleading.
“The bureau has examples of car parks where there has been not enough signage, or signs at a height impossible to read, or tiny signs which look unimportant, or those which used the wrong laws to support the penalty notices.”