Home > Common Complaints > Complaining About a Private Parking Ticket

Complaining About a Private Parking Ticket

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 2 Dec 2020 |
Private Parking Company Fine Vehicle

Parking tickets issued by supermarkets, private companies and train stations are private tickets. These have different rules to public tickets as they are governed by contract law rather than civil or criminal law.

Unfair Tickets

Private tickets are issued if you have parked improperly on someone’s land. They can however, try and make a profit by catching people out, which is unjust. In these circumstances, you are right to try and fight the ticket. It is important to note that many private companies try and imitate public authority notices called PCNs to trick people into thinking they must pay the fine. If there is no council authority or police force mentioned on the ticket then it is likely to be a private one.

Private companies are entirely unregulated and can charge what they like. About a third of companies however, are part of the British Parking Association (BPA) which have a code of practice for ‘fines’, clamping and towing. Companies actually have no legal right to fine you and are just charging for a breach of contract. The good news is that most people who fight a private ticket win it.

Acting Immediately

When you are issued with a private ticket, you are sometimes required to pay an amount within so many days before increasing so it is important that you act immediately. Do not pay the fine as this is admitting liability. If your car has been clamped or towed away then you will have to pay the fine but make it known to them that you are paying in protest.

Supporting Evidence

Gather as much supporting evidence as you can such as photographs of where the vehicle was parked, signage or lack of, parking metres or bays etc and anything that you believe can support your case, such as witness statements, proof of mitigating circumstances, or a crime reference number if your car was stolen or taken without permission. Also keep copies of all correspondence between yourself and the company.

Who is Liable for the Ticket?

Unlike official parking tickets, it is the driver and not the owner of the vehicle that is responsible for the ticket. When you receive a ticket, do nothing and wait to see if they send an invoice through the post. If they do, the letter will go to the owner of the car. If you are the owner but weren’t the driver of the car, you are under no obligation to pay the ‘fine’ or give details of who the driver was. If however, you were the driver don’t be tempted to lie in case they have CCTV footage as if the case got to court it would make things much worse.

How to Fight Your Parking Ticket

If you were not the driver of the car but have received a notice, write a polite but firm letter saying that you were not driving and are under no obligation to provide details of the driver. If you were the driver and believe that the company is being unfair, you need to write to them explaining that you refuse to pay any money. Do not say that you are appealing as this gives unnecessary legitimacy to the ticket.

Grounds to Fight a Ticket

There are five main grounds to fight a ticket. The most popular ground is that there was no, or insufficient, ambiguous signage. The idea is that you read a sign and impliedly accept it when parking on the car park. If however, you can demonstrate that you didn’t see it because the sign is too small or hidden then you can’t be deemed to have accepted it. You can also dispute if a ticket is issued on public land or if you have mitigating circumstances as to why you were parked there in breach. The ‘catch-all’ is that the charge is disproportionate because they’ve lost no or little money by you parking there.

What Happens Next

If one of the above grounds applies to you, then you should write to the company detailing your complaint with any supporting evidence. They may send a letter saying action will not be taken or never write back, in which case you win. They may also say they refute your claim but will not be taking action further. The worst case scenario is if they do not accept your claim. Most companies however, will say this before eventually giving up so it is best to keep refuting the claim and sending the evidence in the hope that they will give up.

Most companies do give up rather than taking it to court, which is the next stage. The case would be in the Small Claims court so the worst that could happen is that you are asked to pay the charge and maybe some expenses or administrative fees but no court fees.

Website Design, Illustration, Hosting and SEO

If you are looking to increase brand awareness, generate web enquiries and/or generate online sales In Studio Digital will create an affordable, mobile friendly, secure website - check out In Studio Digital.

Based in the UK, skilled in WordPress, web design, ecommerce and illustration, they will build your site quickly, host it on a high performance server, and make it SEO friendly. Prices start at £399.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I have had a parking ticket. I parked at thebowling alley by my local skatepark. It says 3hrs free for customers at bowling alley . Due to lockdown the bowling alley is shut so I stayed for just under 2hrs without even considering payment.I don’t think it’s fair to ask me for parking. It was shut and it’s not like they lost money as I had taken up a space for a paying customer??? What should I do?
Ruthie - 2-Dec-20 @ 4:17 PM
Hello, The parking company claims I was parked for over 5 hours in a park where I drop a family member off for school. I had only dropped my family member off in the morning, immediately left and in the afternoon I had immediately picked up my family member only stopping to have them get in the car. The company is clearly lying. Any idea as to how I may approach this please. Regards, A
AA - 27-Nov-20 @ 9:53 AM
So one morning i used my Dads car to drop of son at Primary School ,after school run i went to mcdonalds bought breaka and left. During the course of the day around 2pm i went to sainsburys and fuelled Dads car then realised oops no purse..filled in a form to pay withing 7days right ok no problem.. 3.25pm school run again then took my son to mcdonalds for something to eat and stright home..2 weeks later a letter stating i had been in car park from 9am to 4pm huh tf..so we sent them a copy of fuel that needed paying at sainsburys at 2pm so how could we have been there till 4pm we laughed about it 2 weeks later they rejected everything and now want us to pay £100 please help
Baby-cakes - 5-Dec-19 @ 11:27 AM
At the 18/10 /2019 I got a ticket that day I was coming home from work and live in CarlisleI wasn't even near that place at Marion court not even park my car there and sure not have the registration KR18URS and haven't drive this vehicleso my question is how they make a big mistake like that can't even reach them and got a letter to pay the fine
Tom - 24-Oct-19 @ 9:49 AM
I have been issued with a ticket on private land.I am the housekeeper of a property and was parked in the parking bay designated to that property, I have authority to par there.I have been working for the owner for many years.I was in a hire car and the hire car company have paid the ticket.I am trying to appeal but having no luck as the hire car firm have paid.What can I now do?
rach - 21-Oct-19 @ 4:35 PM
Is this True in England law for private land parking at supermarket? Quoted "Who is Liable for the Ticket? Unlike official parking tickets, it is the driver and not the owner of the vehicle that is responsible for the ticket."
Jay - 9-Oct-19 @ 9:33 PM
I was apparently ten minutes over parking in the car park by the pub on the front at Clevedon. I got the first letter too late to pay the reduced £60 charge, as I was away,Now Iam being asked to pay £100 ,,,,all for a few minutes late. Needless to say, it's a private parking mob. Can this be fair in any way whatsoever!!
Phw - 10-Sep-19 @ 11:39 PM
I went shopping with my kids, parked at an NCP car part, walked for 20 minutes and found i had left my purse at home. I dashed out of the car park driven home and returned to the same car park. Shopped for a couple of hours and returned to the car park, i used the machine on site to pay my parking, it charged me for two hours, i paid. then entered my reg again to pay any outstanding, it showed nothing outstanding. I got home and went to veripark online as per signage at the car parking, i typed my reg and nothing was outstanding, on site there was no number to call, I trusted my debt was settled.fourteen days later i get a PCN on the post, i sent an email and explained what happened and added the paid receipt and explained that there must be an error or issue with the system as there was nothing outstanding to pay, so i couldn't pay neither online or at the car park. 6 weeks later i get a letter saying they have passed my debt to a debt collector, letter dated the same day i received the PCN on post 28/6/19. and inside it another letter was there saying my appeal was declined on 28/6 and this letter was then dated the 2/9/19. Now i cannot get to go this POPLA to appeal cause it has expired... I am stuck, because of a 30 minutes parking that i tried to pay but machine and online showed nothing to pay they want me to pay 100£.Has anyone had a similar situation and how was it resolved? Many thanks
Ana - 8-Sep-19 @ 7:05 PM
I have just been out for a meal with some of my family and parked in the yates pub car park. I asked when we went in if we where ok to park there and was told that we were. I have a blue badge that is kept on my sun shade in the front window, if we hadn't been ok I would have made sure that it could be seen properly. When we came out after eating I had been given a pcn. I only saw it after leaving the car park. This has been issued by a company called NE parking LTD. What can I do about this
Siob - 6-Sep-19 @ 8:25 PM
I took my daughter to a specialisthospital appointment @ Coventry university hospital . She lives on the local army base & her husband was away.A new mum & breast feeding with spinal damage she has a blue badge but cannot drive at present. I am registered disabled & also have a blue badge, but took the time off work to travel quite some time to take her & my grand child to her appointment. We got there parked up in a disabled bay with my badge clearly displayed. Baby was asleep so daughter went to her app & I followed when baby woke a while later & waited inside for her. When she came out she needed a drink as it was a very hot day & to feed the baby. She also had to wait for her prescription. That done we returned to the car without delay & left although it took a while to get out of the car park which was congested. Some time later i received parking charge saying I had stayed 2hrs 15mins - it had been issued 2 days AFTERthe hospital visit, there had been no ticket or indication of any charge on my car.As far as everything stated parking in the disabled section was free, I even checked with a staff member on entering. My appeal has just been refused & what's more I have been informed that there is no point in my writing to the Ombudsman as they do NOT recognise this authority. I must pay the amount now. If i pay then continue to appeal i will be charged a higher amount!I feel like I'm being mugged. How can such 'legalised mugging' be permitted especiallyon NHS grounds & the disabled section at that?Have I no recourse?
Tyde - 14-Aug-19 @ 3:09 PM
I scrapped my car on the 12 February at exactly 2-32 pm and took photo of it being towed away on my I phone which is time and date embedded, on the 24th I received the first of seven PCNs each demanding £160 charge when I tried calling them I was verbally abused and had phone hung up anyway when I took a closer look at each demand I noticed that the time and alleged days of the seven offences were different but the evidential photo backing up there penalty charges was the same phone, I called to point this out and was told that wasn’t the case so I asked the guy on phone wether he was trying to suggest that the same people and cars in background just happened to be in same position for five days and then said so that sparrow sitting on fence must have been nailed to it , he hung up and now a collection agency is demanding I pay for just one infringement or they will take court action ?? I’ve told them to let me know when they’ve taken it to court so I can make sure I get the day off and I’ve also pointed out that not only will I be defending the charge but will be asking the court to award me my expenses for travel as well as a days wages and I’ve added that I’m self employed and will be bringing evidence that will confirm that I earn £65 per hour as a stage costume designer and maker to the music industry but I’m so annoyed now I’m going to go to the police with the photographic evidence and suggest that the parking company has deliberately tried to fraudulently claim money by false representation which in my opinion by using same photo for seven different supposed infringements is blatantly obvious, ps I’m not paying them a penny trust me k
Dotty - 8-Aug-19 @ 8:41 PM
I visited a friend and parked in her private bay but got a ticket as I didn’t have a permit just the space owners consent. The bays are owned by the property owners but monitored by a private company. Do I have to pay?
P - 5-Aug-19 @ 6:00 AM
I parked at a local leisure centre. Later than normal. It is also a college car park. Where I park the bays are blue, which I assumed was for the gym. I got tickets on two consecutive days. Sent in the post on the same day. No mention that is was a ticket.I thought it was junk and only opened it today which is beyond the 14 days. So they are looking for £200. What a scam
AMG - 19-Jul-19 @ 4:49 PM
Hi, I am usually able to appeal PCNs but on this occasion it was a franchise car, and we were on holiday. The company we have the franchise with paid the fine to Private Eye, any advice on how to appeal this? Get a refund? Thanks!
Fiona - 19-Jul-19 @ 3:54 PM
Parked in a parking eye car park. Put my car registration on the laptop provided to allow free parking and still got a charge even though it stated that would allow me to park. They are HIGHWAY THIEVES
Jezmondo - 4-Jul-19 @ 6:46 AM
I want draft a letter to company that employee runaway who had wrongly parked his car in others parking slot he took away his car without paying fine and also braked the lock without knowledge of security
kunal - 1-Jul-19 @ 10:07 AM
My mother in law got parking ticket from parking eye but wasn’t the driver I was . As soon as the letter got to me I contested it as the machine on site didn’t work and I’m not a member of parkingeye I don’t want to be , I received a email from them saying they have received my account of that day and they say I’ve 28days for the outcome.dated 16,6,19. Today another letter came in post saying I now owe them 100 saying pay now Is this bullying? What are my rights?
Dave - 20-Jun-19 @ 7:01 PM
The parking attendent let me into a secret, if you are.parked a little over then it's allowed. They measure from your 1st letter on your plate to edge of your car then that measurement is.allowed over from the bay line. Tell them to send you a.photo of your car as you are allowed some allowance over. Say you refuse to pay not that you are contesting.
Fines123 - 17-Jun-19 @ 10:24 AM
I went to drop my daughter and husband to station. There was marking that I can drop and pickup. I didn't realise that I was little bit out of parking bay. Now we got notice to pay to PCM 100 pounds if we don't pay in 14 days. We appealed the notice but they have rejected our claim saying that parking attendant was there and he recorded that we were parking outside of bay. Car was on and I left after I dropped them. I don't know what to do.
Sonia - 13-Jun-19 @ 8:08 PM
Hello, I work down in a little village where one of the pubs owns a car park and has recently had CCTV fitted. I used to always park there and everything would be fine but now they are sending fines. I have now recieved 6 fines. Each for £100! Others have also received some too and people are saying to ignore them and others are saying that they've had loads before but done nothing with them. What should I do?
S - 9-Jun-19 @ 9:57 AM
your guidance about the registered vehicle owner not having to identify the actual driver has been out of date since the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 which renders the registered owner liable if the driver can not be identified
baffey - 8-Jun-19 @ 6:08 PM
Parking on private land whereby the authority is given under a lease or easement. (a right to park in a designated area) The freeholder of the land is responsible for the actions of its agent (the parking enforcement company) I believe any such parking ticket is illegal and when place onwindow ofthe car is a form of trespass against the property (owner of the car) and a harrasment to the right of enjoyment under the terms of the lease or easement. An action may be taken jointly against the agent and the freeholder by way of injunction to void the strees and "harassment" for the demand of money. Any comments would be appreciated.
gamesmanship - 21-May-19 @ 10:07 AM
I parked on nhs land where I work from daily. The land - car park is manned by a company called Amtrak. I had, as always displayed my pass with reg no on clearly. This was nt enough as they wanted the Location code as well so I was fined on duty as a nurse at my work place for not displaying a location number. I am currently fighting this.. sadly, duty nurses, working from their base still equals unfair penalties.. Stress of the job equals nurses leaving the NHS
Apple - 13-May-19 @ 7:45 PM
Hi, ON the 7.12.18 while shopping at Asda Leytonstone parked in a disabled bay wel as am a holder. On that occasion I forgot displaying my badge & I received a PCN from UKPC, On my return roughly after 30minutes only to find a PCN displayed. I had my badge with me and I immediately got back to Asda showing the security my badge who advised it was best to contact ukpc. I took photos of my badge & receipt as proof of shopping which had a spending of £109 .On taking pictures, the time & place of where the picture has been taken records on the photo. On appealing, they respond “ thank you for the evidence provided, as an act of good will we reduce your penalty to £15 which you will have to pay in 35 days or else they would escalate the matter further! I panicked & then paid £15, however I’m still disappointed on how Un considerate this company is! I’m now looking forward to raising a complaint to Asda store. Please advise on how to go abou this, thank you
Martha - 4-Apr-19 @ 9:56 AM
Hi We live on s private estate on the left hand side there are the leasehold flats which UKPC operate a parking control Scheme for the landlord. On the other side of the car park the homes are owned as Freeholds , with that you get a parking bay which is land formed as part ofthe title of ownership. We are not part of the parking control scheme operated by UKPC. For years now UKPC have being putting tickets on our card parked on our bays. They then demand that we appeal against the ticket or pay the fine. Neither of which we are prepared to do. Dispite sending plans of the car park and informing them that we are not part of the scheme the harassment continues, with debt companies sending letters either pay or appeal that’s the stance. All the freehold residents are at their wits end. Has anyone got any advice...??
Jas - 18-Feb-19 @ 7:53 PM
Advice please we received a letter from ukcps the picture with a manual number plate recognition stamp says 18.59 but be have a ticket that we kept says issued at 18.35 also paid by visa. It says reason for issue: without a valid permit or authority? In the car park Lincoln free school Lane
Iceman - 5-Feb-19 @ 12:59 PM
hi I parked in a car park and paid with a ticketusing a machine10yards away - I subsequently received a parking fine as I paid at the incorrect ticket machine. I have appealed but it has been rejecteddo I have to pay or shall I continue to appeal to the IAS
shiv - 8-Jan-19 @ 12:44 PM
After being rather shocked at receiving a PCN from a "parking eye Type company" my wife was extremely upset and distressed...especially as it claimed she owed £100 for parking in a small car park whilst she popped into a local convenience store.....10-15 minutes max. They said she had been there for ...wait for it...27 HOURS! Now, whilst my wife is a prolific shopper, even she would find it impossible to spend that long shopping in only 3 stores...2 o f which are food outlets!. She immediately called the company to express her disbelief and concern about the allegation and was told "we will look into it". The following day , having heard nothing I then called and had to leave an answer phone message in which I too expressed my annoyance and disbelief that such a notice could be sent with obviously flawed data. I was left an answer phone message telling me to appeal! Now the good part. It appears that the manager of the convenience store knows of many similar situations ...because his customers (3 or 4 a WEEK!) call him up having received similar PCN letters.....so it is a known problem which it seems the company either can't or won't sort out . Today my wife received a letter from the company which simply said words to the effect that "The Notice is being cancelled, no further action is being taken" No explanation, No APPOLOGY.....No customer relations skills that is for sure!. My question is Who do I make an official complaint too about this farce? Can I report them to the regulator ? Is there any recourse to force them to explain the way in which a PCN was issued without reason? I am pretty damned angry that these faceless fools are seemingly able to send out unsubstantiated charges to innocent drivers without having to provide any details or photographic evidence....especially to elderly motorists who may, to avoid the stress and worry, pay up out of fear or retribution.
cranwellpoacher - 29-Oct-18 @ 6:05 PM
I received a parking charger notice I appealled as I didn't think signs were signed very well sent pics in they refused appeal so I payedsince then they have changed all the signs is there anything I can do .To me they must think that I'm right else why change the signs
Don - 6-Oct-18 @ 7:49 AM
I recently received a parking charge for having one wheel on a double yellow line on private land (the garage area for residents where I live). However, the charge stated the incorrect vehicle registration number, so I wrote to the parking company to inform them that I would therefore not be paying the charge. They have now responded by saying that they have photographic evidence showing the correct vehicle and will be re-issuing the charge with the correct details. Is the parking company able to issue the charge retrospectively?
Jonny 5 - 22-Sep-18 @ 1:38 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments