The “Dirty Little Secret” of the private parking industry has now been exposed for all to see. DEBT COLLECTORS LIE.
Without exception, ALL DEBT COLLECTORS INVOLVED IN THE PRIVATE PARKING INDUSTRY ARE TIME-WASTERS who will lie and cheat to try to get you to pay up their vastly inflated, abusive and harassing demands.
Remember this – this is rule 1 – Debt Collectors LIE!
Whenever people receive Debt Collector letters they send a shiver down the spine. They are designed to. With their wild threats of County Court Judgments, Bailiffs seizing your goods, your credit rating being damaged by a CCJ etc, these letters are designed to harass, alarm and distress.
When you consider that this is probably over a parking ticket of £100 or less, it sounds utterly mad that all of these things would happen if you do not pay up.
And, what they don’t want you to know is that these things CAN’T happen.
Debt Collectors in working for the Parking Industry cannot do any of the following.
They can’t take you to court – only the Parking Company can do that
They can’t “send round the boys” – that can only happen if you lose at court AND fail to pay AND the Parking Company decides to use bailiffs to enforce, which is very rare indeed.
They can’t affect your credit rating – parking “debt” is not regulated, so cannot be recorded with the Credit Reference Agencies unless they take you to court FIRST.
They can’t prosecute you – Except in very specific circumstances, parking charges are civil debts, so there is no criminal offence for not paying.
They can’t simply add charges on willy-nilly. If you are the keeper of a vehicle, the only sum that anyone can lawfully pursue you for is the unpaid cost of the original parking charge notice – no more than £100.
The most common debt collection companies in the Parking Industry are Debt Recovery Plus (who also trade as Zenith Collections), MIL Collections, DCBL, Equita, ZZPS and Trace Recoveries.
Debt Recovery Plus
Debt Recovery Plus (DRP) will claim in their letters that they have been assigned a debt by the parking company. Do you remember rule 1? Debt Collectors LIE. DRP has not been assigned anything, because it’s against the law for a parking company to assign a debt. So your letter from DRP saying the debt has been assigned to them for collection is A LIE.
DRP will normally send you 2-3 letters, with threats, cajoling, offers of lesser settlements, threats that they “may” take you to court. Remember rule 1?
After DRP has tried, you will receive, out of the blue, a letter on different letterhead, apparently from another company called Zenith Collections. This will claim that Zenith has now been assigned the debt. Remember rule 1? Zenith is a trading name of DRP, so they cannot have been assigned the debt if they already had it, which, they don’t and never did.
DRP and Zenith make money a simple way – they demand more than the original debt from you and get to keep the difference between the £60 original parking charge and the £160+ they claim is due. This means that if you pay DRP £160 when you receive their letter, the parking company gets £60, and DRP keeps £100. Remember rule 1? Now you can see WHY they lie.
MIL Collections, based in Truro, will claim that they have purchased the debt, and that it has been lawfully assigned to them. Remember rule 1? MIL cannot legally purchase debts from parking companies, and have, on a number of occasions, been told this, both by the DVLA, the BPA, the IPC and in court. The most recent time they tried this lie in court, they lost, and had £750 costs awarded against them.
MIL Admitted in court to breaching the IPC and BPA Codes of Practice, breaching the Financial Conduct Authority rules. Breaching the court rules, using false names on their letters, adding impermissible costs to their claim and not, in fact, taking any Due Diligence whatsoever when they “purchase” debts for ads little as £1, before adding over £100 in charges to a £90 debt. No you can see WHY they lie.
Then we have DCBL, the company in Channel 5’s docu-drama , Can’t pay, We’ll take it away. DCBL dip their toes into private parking and act as debt collectors; Because of their TV reputation it’s deliberately calculated to scare you. Remember rule 1?
“Can’t pay we’ll take it away” is ONLY about cases that have gone court already and people have ignored. Getting a debt collector letter from DCBL is just that, a debt collectors letter and as such their power vanishes just like the rest of them … even their letters say, in little print at the bottom, that this is not subject to Bailiff recovery action – so why do they add Bailiff-level charges to the debt. Remember rule 1?
Equita are a bailiff firm who, like DCBL, should be ignored. Until recently they were a sister company to ParkingEye. As far as we can tell an Equita letter for a ParkingEye charge means that ParkingEye are unable or unwilling to take the matter to court. Perhaps the contract won’t allow them to issue proceedings, or they do not have a sufficiently strong case. Remembering that we regularly win cases against ParkingEye, if they don’t have the courage to even try to sue, why should you pay?
Rest assured, if you receive a letter from Equita for a ParkingEye PCN, this is all but an admission that ParkingEye won’t pursue you further – if they thought they had a strong enough case, court papers would have been served by now.
ZZPS has a long history behind it. ZZPS was originally formed in 2011 as Gary Osner’s Parachute for his failing Roxburghe business, and only starting trading in 2015. Roxburghe, of course, was closed down when it lost its FCA Consumer Credit Licence because it was considered not to be “fit and proper” – one has to then ask why ZZPS only pursues unregulated consumer debt, on the very edge of legality, especially when you consider that as BPA members ZZPS is obliged to comply with FCA rules, even though it does nothing of the sort.
Trace Recovery are rarely seen, and the same rule 1 applies.
But what about ParkingEye v Beavis – doesnt that make all private parking charges enforceable?
Many of the debt collectors will make reference to the Parking Eye & Beavis Supreme court case. For some reason they seem to believe that this judgment makes every single parking charge in the country enforceable, and fair. Barry Beavis took Parking Eye to court because he claimed the charges were unfair and a penalty. The court disagreed … and that was it. So unless you are claiming that the charge was unfair and a penalty, the Supreme Court decision has no bearing on you. Remember Rule 1?
Contacting Trading Standards
Letters from Debt Collectors are deliberately calculated to intimidate, harass and alarm. These letters misinterpret the facts and so if you receive letters like this, you must complain to your Trading Standards office, normally your local council – do not let the council try to fob you off to CAB or Action fraud, you want to speak to the head of Trading Standards, or if necessary, write to them.
Solicitors as debt collectors
Recently, we have seen (and complained about) a number of DRP letters. This now involves solicitor headed paper which at first sight could wrongly be interpreted as a legal letter but, despite the serious tone of the letter, you will find nothing of certainty, except for weasel words such as “we may recommend” or “legal action may result” – these letters also ask you to contact not the solicitor, but the Debt Collections company – Remember rule 1?
These debt collector letters use the same threats and again such letters should be sent to your local Trading Standards. Currently there are 3 solicitors who use these tactics, Gladstones Solicitors, Wright Hassall, who also trade as QDR, and BW Legal. The favourite response when challenged is that these letters are “intended to point out the result IF legal action is commenced” which is evasive and misleading. It’s illegal for a firm of solicitors to mislead a layman. In a nutshell, these solicitors are basically farming out their letterhead, as has been admitted by at least one of them in court. Remember rule 1?
In short, no matter what they claim, no matter how much they say you owe them, a Debt Collector for a parking company cannot do anything to you other than send you increasingly desperate letters, on various headed paper, until eventually referring the matter back to the Parking Company, having wasted sometimes up to three years in the meantime.
So why, then, do we offer any service dealing with Debt Collectors, if they can simply be ignored?
Because, some debt collector cases do get returned to the Parking Company, and some of these are then pursued by the Parking Company to court. As a result, if you can show that you, or your agent (us) has tried to deal with this prior to it coming to court, but the Parking Company or their agent (The Debt Collector) hasn’t responded, or hasn’t engaged, this is evidence for the court of their unreasonable conduct. Unreasonable conduct award are going up, when they are successfully argued – initially these only covered the cost of representation, but now the Parking Companies are facing punitive awards, pro-bono costs and the threat of civil restraint orders, because the courts are fed up with the unreasonable behaviour of the Parking Companies and their debt collectors and Solicitors. By involving us BEFORE the matter is returned and potentially taken to court, we can lay the groundwork for an Unreasonable Costs order even before court proceedings are started.
And of course, if the Debt Collector is writing to us, they aren’t bothering you, they are simply wasting their own time and money.
Are you being harassed by a Debt Collector? Contact us now, and we will take this stress from your shoulders.