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  • FIRST POST
    • manwyl
    • By manwyl 6th Nov 17, 12:15 PM
    • 53Posts
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    manwyl
    SCS Law & Smart Parking
    • #1
    • 6th Nov 17, 12:15 PM
    SCS Law & Smart Parking 6th Nov 17 at 12:15 PM
    Hi, your advice is requested as my head is spinning after reading through the sticky threads. I've not seen a set of circumstances exactly like below (including the POPLA part) but apologies if I've missed something. I'm not certain on the way to proceed but first I'll explain the background.

    8 months ago our car parked in a car park associated with a Matalan Store but not owned by the store. Matalan offer discounts for the parking cost to their customers. We did not buy anything from the Matalan store that day. They use ANPR cameras and parking machines which require the VRN to be entered. This was incorrectly entered due to some of the keys not working properly (although this has been denied by Smart) and due to being in a rush and the pressure of a queue forming behind. The VRN entered was very similar to the actual VRN. Smart have confirmed there is a payment on their system at the time for a vehicle with a very similar VRN that wasn't in the car park. In short, the correct payment was made but the wrong VRN was entered. Smart rejected an appeal based on the information above and we naively assumed that POPLA would consider the circumstances based on the details above but this too was rejected. We answered all the leading questions and I believe the driver was identified. I realise now that this was a big mistake and was a missed opportunity.

    Since then we have ignored all letters from Debt Recovery Plus until receiving a letter at the end of October from SCS Law (acting on behalf of Smart Parking Ltd) which declares it is an LBC. They are requesting payment of £170 via Debt Recovery Plus to settle the matter. I shall try to supply a link to view the redacted letter -

    dropbox.com/sh/b2c2u24qwppur58/AACTONoflX1KgrOLUgFi3iz6a?dl=0[/url]

    BTW - Matalan have stopped using Smart Parking due to the number of customer complaints.

    I'm unsure on how to proceed as we have shot ourselves in the foot with POPLA already. I'm not sure which advice to follow in case it now doesn't apply. It's such a minefield that we've considered just giving in but I guess this is what they're relying on. My instinct is to fight it but after the POPLA mistake I've lost confidence.

    Any assistance on how to proceed would be greatly appreciated. Please let me know if any more information is required.

    Many thanks
    Last edited by manwyl; 06-11-2017 at 12:20 PM.
Page 2
    • The Deep
    • By The Deep 16th Jan 18, 7:48 PM
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    The Deep
    I do not understand, they state that their client is Matalan.
    You never know how far you can go until you go too far.
    • Coupon-mad
    • By Coupon-mad 16th Jan 18, 8:16 PM
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    Coupon-mad
    Try a version of Johnersh's 'cathartic' reply this time! Search for that word.

    They cannot just give you 14 days and threaten 'proceedings', they have to follow the pre-action protocol.
    PRIVATE PCN? DON'T PAY BUT DO NOT IGNORE IT TWO Clicks needed for advice:
    Top of the page: Home>>Forums>Household & Travel>Motoring>Parking Tickets, Fines & Parking - read the 'NEWBIES' FAQS thread!
    Advice to ignore is WRONG, unless in Scotland/NI.

    • Johnersh
    • By Johnersh 16th Jan 18, 9:44 PM
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    Johnersh
    Just a thought (to throw something else in the mix) the google images - albeit rather old - suggest this was a pay and display car park - as do all the primary signs (large font). So if you did pay and display, you can put them to proof that you did not.

    What are the chances that someone with a near identical numberplate paid and passed the ticket to you. Highly remote - especially since you will also ask them now to confirm in writing how many tickets were sold to vehicles with similar registrations, but for which there is no record of them entering leaving? You should repeat that request with every letter to demonstrate the ongoing pursuit of this matter is wasteful of costs and court resources (in the event proceedings are issued).

    In principle, you can plead substantial compliance with the contract (and no loss). Ticket bought, ticket displayed, had they checked manually they would have seen just one digit error etc etc. It is a failure of their system to check and marry up the record that has caused the issue.

    The breach of contract (if the sign requires you to input the full and correct registration) is arguably de minimis where they have a record of an additional payment, there is no loss to them and the penalty that they seek serves no legitimate purpose. You will recall in Beavis that the penalty rule was engaged (something the parking companies often forget). On the facts of that case, but the fine was not a penalty (a) because Mr Beavis DID overstay but also (b) pour encourager les autres where the business purpose was to encourage the "churn" in the carpark and freely available parking for all, which had a value over and above the cost of parking or the overhead of enforcement. Here, the ticketing is easily checked. They have an explanation and can marry it up. Physical enforcement by a parking attendant would also confirm your position.

    If your case/evidence is accepted, this may amount to a penalty because the actual penalty at £85 far outweighs the administration/checks that they would need to undertake and where there is evidence of all reasonable attempts to comply with the contract terms.

    By all means tell them that their letter is threatening, but otherwise Arkell v Pressdram applies.
    "The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading."
    DISCLAIMER: I post thoughts as & when they occur. I don't advise. You are your own person and decision-maker. I'm unlikely to respond to DMs seeking personal advice. It's ill-advised & you lose the benefit of a group "take" on events.
    • manwyl
    • By manwyl 21st Jan 18, 8:17 PM
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    manwyl
    "pappa golf - ok , who was the landowner?"

    Not Matalan according to the store manager and a property manager I spoke with at head office. I've emailed the property manager asking to confirm this in writing and to ask who the landowner is. He's normally pretty quick with replies so I'll update on this ASAP
    Last edited by manwyl; 21-01-2018 at 8:24 PM.
    • manwyl
    • By manwyl 21st Jan 18, 8:22 PM
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    manwyl
    "The Deep - I do not understand, they state that their client is Matalan."

    Matalan Cheltenham was the site. Smart Parking are SCS's clients
    • manwyl
    • By manwyl 22nd Jan 18, 2:57 PM
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    manwyl
    Matalan have replied with the following. Are they the landowners or not?

    "I can confirm that the store and car park at Cheltenham are demised to Matalan via Leasehold ownership and therefore are our responsibility."
    • nosferatu1001
    • By nosferatu1001 22nd Jan 18, 3:03 PM
    • 2,485 Posts
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    nosferatu1001
    Theyre the landholders, as they are Lease holders

    What they can and cannot do with the land will be detailed in their lease.
    • manwyl
    • By manwyl 22nd Jan 18, 9:01 PM
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    manwyl
    OK, I will have to move on from the landowner point. I was clearly misinformed by Matalan previously. I have drafted a response but before I put it on here for review I need to ask do I need to continue to worry about being identified should SCS or Smart Parking be reading this forum? We've moved way beyond template letters and responses now and unfortunately the driver was naively identified very early on (that won't happen again!). I will remove names and addresses still. Thanks everyone
    • manwyl
    • By manwyl 25th Jan 18, 6:46 AM
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    manwyl
    Hello all again. Here's my draft reply to the most recent letter received from SCS. I have a few days before it needs to be sent. Please can you let me know if anything needs changing or if it's ok as it is? Big thanks to all who have helped so far and continue to offer their advice. I'd be lost without it!

    Dear Sirs,

    I am in receipt of your letter dated xxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx. I found it to be threatening. You can’t just give me 14 days and threaten 'proceedings'. You have to follow the pre-action protocol.

    I refer you to the photos in your letter dated the xxx xxxxxxxx. In particular, to one of those photos (exhibit A). Within this photo are two signs. The sign to the right in the photo asks “Have you paid & displayed? Refunds for Matalan Customers” (exhibit B). Therefore, it is reasonable to assume this car park is a pay and display car park. Please can your client prove I did not pay and display?

    What are the chances that someone with a near identical number plate paid for a ticket and passed it to me? Highly remote. However, please can you confirm how many tickets were sold to vehicles with similar registrations to my own, but for which there is no record of them entering or leaving the car park on the day/at the time in question?

    I now refer back to the photographic evidence of the signage, provided by your client. The photos, as provided, are not of sufficient quality in order to be able to read the signs in full. The “clearer copies of the signage” are templates produced using a computer and are not evidence of the signs on display at the time. Please see exhibit C for evidence of my recent visit to the moon. It too was produced using a computer. You’ll see it contains the same level of proof as the templates of the signs provided by your client. I trust you will agree this is not sufficient evidence that I have been to the moon.

    Unless you can provide clear, readable photos of the terms and conditions on the signs IN THE CAR PARK AT THE DATE AND TIME OF THE ALLEGED OFFENCE then I can’t accept them as evidence and, I expect, neither will a court.

    I plead substantial compliance with the contract (and no loss to your client). A ticket was bought and displayed in my car. Had your client checked manually they would have seen just a small error. It is a failure of your client’s system to not allow a registration number to be entered into the ticket machine if it vehicle hasn’t entered the car park and/or check and marry up the record that has caused the issue.

    The alleged breach of contract is arguably “de minimis”. Where your client has a record of an additional payment, there is no loss to them and the penalty that they seek serves no legitimate purpose. You will recall in Beavis that the penalty rule was engaged based on the facts of that case, but the fine was not a penalty (a) because Mr Beavis did overstay but also (b) where the business purpose was to encourage the "churn" in the car park and freely available parking for all, which had a value over and above the cost of parking or the overhead of enforcement.
    In my situation, the ticketing is easily checked. I have provided an explanation and your client can marry the ticket bought with the additional payment on their system. Physical enforcement by a parking attendant would have also confirmed my position.

    If my case/evidence is accepted, this may amount to a penalty because the actual penalty at £85 far outweighs the administration/checks that your client would need to undertake and where there is evidence of all reasonable attempts to comply with the contract terms.
    • KeithP
    • By KeithP 25th Jan 18, 10:55 AM
    • 7,210 Posts
    • 6,713 Thanks
    KeithP
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/0xufins5sva3byp/Image%20%2812%29.jpg?dl=0

    So it is not a Letter Before Claim you are responding to.

    I definitely would not be admitting to even 'a small error' in any correspondence.
    Leave out the sentence starting "Had your client checked...".
    Last edited by KeithP; 25-01-2018 at 11:02 AM.
    .
    • Lamilad
    • By Lamilad 25th Jan 18, 11:19 AM
    • 1,349 Posts
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    Lamilad
    This is not a court case (yet) - do not use words like "plead and "exhibit"
    • manwyl
    • By manwyl 25th Jan 18, 8:37 PM
    • 53 Posts
    • 39 Thanks
    manwyl
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/0xufins5sva3byp/Image%20%2812%29.jpg?dl=0

    So it is not a Letter Before Claim you are responding to.

    I definitely would not be admitting to even 'a small error' in any correspondence.
    Leave out the sentence starting "Had your client checked...".
    Originally posted by KeithP
    Not this time. The LBC was apparently the first letter received from them. This latest one is the third letter so far.
    Thank you - I have removed that sentence as advised.

    This is not a court case (yet) - do not use words like "plead and "exhibit"
    Originally posted by Lamilad
    Thank you - Is claim instead of plead ok? "I claim substantial compliance with the contract. .....". I have replaced "exhibit" with "image" throughout.

    If this is now OK I will get it in the post tomorrow. Thank you to everyone for their help and support
    • Johnersh
    • By Johnersh 25th Jan 18, 11:57 PM
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    • 1,989 Thanks
    Johnersh
    It'll do.

    IMHO whilst I agree that use of the word "error" may encourage the claimant to proceed and is perhaps best avoided at this juncture, I wouldn't be worried about admitting the error in any defence.

    In general terms (whether at court or in correspondence) there is little harm in admitting at a hearing that an o instead of a zero could have been entered if you know that to be the case.

    Their system could be designed not to accept registrations in anything other than correct XX/00/XXX format (subject to an override for personalised registrations). That would probably reduce such errors by a substantial margin. They could exercise discretion and manually cress-reference for obvious typos. They choose not to. It is intentionally punitive.

    That may be their model, but it risks them falling foul of Beavis - ironically the one case they will no doubt rely on.
    "The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading."
    DISCLAIMER: I post thoughts as & when they occur. I don't advise. You are your own person and decision-maker. I'm unlikely to respond to DMs seeking personal advice. It's ill-advised & you lose the benefit of a group "take" on events.
    • manwyl
    • By manwyl 8th Feb 18, 8:50 PM
    • 53 Posts
    • 39 Thanks
    manwyl
    Good evening all. We have had another reply from SCS. This one contains high res photos of the signs in the car park. I can upload them all if you would like. It also contains a "transaction report with registrations" partially redacted.

    dropbox.com/sh/1ffbwnxatgy3uez/AADNmsAERdoOeJc7Z3U22Ymla?dl=0

    They don't appear to have answered my question - "please can you confirm how many tickets were sold to vehicles with similar registrations to my own, but for which there is no record of them entering or leaving the car park on the day/at the time in question?". They have instead sent the transaction report. I know this is incomplete because a Smart Parking employee has already admitted there was a ticket bought for a car registration that wasn't in the car park. It was very similar to our own. This report does not contain the similar registration number data.

    I'd be interested to know how often the ticket machines and ANPR cameras are synchronised with each other and the date/time checked for accuracy. They have only provided data from the supposed time entering the car park until 11 minutes before the supposed leaving time. Any time discrepancies could hide a valid transaction.

    The photos provided, although clear this time, aren't accompanied with a date and time stamp to show when they were taken. This to me doesn't prove anything. Signs go up and signs come down as proved by visiting the car park to see Matalan have replaced Smart Parking with another parking company who have erected their own signs.

    On the 2nd page of their letter the first paragraph tries to justify the legitimate interest in controlling parking to ensure parking for Matalan customers however this is contradicted by another sign on display throughout the car park. This sign says "Have you paid & displayed? Refund for Matalan customers". It can be seen on google street maps.

    Refunds for Matalan customers, therefore no refunds for non-Matalan customers, therefore customers and non-customers can use the car park. A true legitimate interest in ensuring parking was available for customers would mean parking for customers only right?

    And they want a reply within 7 days this time. The timescales for replies seems to be decreasing. Are they allowed to do this?

    I look forward to any suggestions on how to reply. Your help is always invaluable and greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks
    • claxtome
    • By claxtome 8th Feb 18, 8:55 PM
    • 560 Posts
    • 653 Thanks
    claxtome
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1ffbwnxatgy3uez/AADNmsAERdoOeJc7Z3U22Ymla?dl=0
    • Umkomaas
    • By Umkomaas 9th Feb 18, 5:55 AM
    • 17,588 Posts
    • 27,803 Thanks
    Umkomaas
    They don't appear to have answered my question - "please can you confirm how many tickets were sold to vehicles with similar registrations to my own, but for which there is no record of them entering or leaving the car park on the day/at the time in question?".
    I'm not sure how anyone could answer that question.
    We cannot provide you with a silver bullet to get you out of this. You have to be in for the long run, and need to involve yourself in research and work for you to get rid of this. It is not simple. We will help, but can't do it for you.

    Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
    • manwyl
    • By manwyl 9th Feb 18, 7:36 AM
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    manwyl
    They will have a list of all payments received along with the registration numbers entered at the ticket machines. They will also know the registration numbers of all cars that entered the car park. It took them less than a minute to find this info (a payment for a car not in the car park. The registration number was VERY similar to ours, just 1 character difference so easy to spot) when I spoke with Smart Parking on the phone back when the PCN was first received. Now suddenly there doesn't appear to be a record of it so they've either excluded it or the date and time used to produce the list of transactions is not accurate. For example, the clocks went forward an hour at the end of March (approx 6 weeks before the alleged offence). If the clocks on all their equipment weren't updated automatically or manually then the data produced in the report would be for the wrong period of time. Either way, a ticket was paid for and displayed in the car well within ten minutes of entering the car park. They haven't answered the question.
    • Coupon-mad
    • By Coupon-mad 9th Feb 18, 8:45 AM
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    Coupon-mad
    As this is only Smart parking, why are you even bothering to reply? Not litigious.
    PRIVATE PCN? DON'T PAY BUT DO NOT IGNORE IT TWO Clicks needed for advice:
    Top of the page: Home>>Forums>Household & Travel>Motoring>Parking Tickets, Fines & Parking - read the 'NEWBIES' FAQS thread!
    Advice to ignore is WRONG, unless in Scotland/NI.

    • manwyl
    • By manwyl 9th Feb 18, 8:57 AM
    • 53 Posts
    • 39 Thanks
    manwyl
    I've had a LBC from SCS Law. I've been advised to reply in previous posts.
    • Coupon-mad
    • By Coupon-mad 9th Feb 18, 10:06 AM
    • 57,473 Posts
    • 71,063 Thanks
    Coupon-mad
    Yes and I said this, but you've done a reply already:
    Read the NEWBIES thread post #2 and particularly read examples written by Johnersh and LoadsofChildren123 in recent weeks, showing how to tell a Solicitor that their so-called LBCCC is not compliant with the new pre-action protocol for debt claims, which was updated on 1st October 2017.

    Read the new protocol, you will soon see how they have failed. Either Google for it or follow the link in the NEWBIES thread post #2 all about LBCCC stage and the new protocol.

    A LBCCC does not mean a claim is inevitable.

    Even if you get a claim, this forum assist posters who have no experience at all, to win their defended cases 99% of the time.
    Originally posted by Coupon-mad
    The only response I would now suggest is like this robust reply:

    Write & ask on what basis they are pursuing a registered keeper, since Smart Parking have never used a POFA compliant Notice to Keeper, and did they enjoy the Parliamentary debate last Friday, exposing the outrageous conduct of debt collectors and robo-claim solicitors cosily nestling with the rogue parking firms, where Smart Parking were named and shamed.

    Add that if they proceed, you will bring the will of Parliament to the attention of the court to show the conduct of this reportedly 'out of control' rogue ticketer who have been sacked by Asda and Matalan in the past year alone, for aggressively ticketing customers:

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5787731

    http://parking-prankster.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/parking-bill-moves-to-next-stage-will.html

    Watch it in full, worth your while I promise:

    http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/2f0384f2-eba5-4fff-ab07-cf24b6a22918?in=12:49:41

    handy quotes here from Hansard:

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-02-02/debates/CC84AF5E-AC6E-4E14-81B1-066E6A892807/Parking(CodeOfPractice)Bill

    Honestly strike them with that to show you know everything about the scam and are not a victim they should choose to sue.
    Last edited by Coupon-mad; 09-02-2018 at 10:09 AM.
    PRIVATE PCN? DON'T PAY BUT DO NOT IGNORE IT TWO Clicks needed for advice:
    Top of the page: Home>>Forums>Household & Travel>Motoring>Parking Tickets, Fines & Parking - read the 'NEWBIES' FAQS thread!
    Advice to ignore is WRONG, unless in Scotland/NI.

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