Smart Parking Ltd SCAM – Car Park Ticket PCN SCAM

I usually blog about online scams, but this is an offline scam you can fall in to SO easily, it’s actually quite scary!

Smart Parking Ltd

Smart Parking Ltd

My friend was driving in a town centre and fancied some lunch. He saw a Toby Carvery, pulled into the car park shared with sofa shops etc, and had a rather nice lunch. Usually in these car parks you have to be visiting a business or have actually bought something – but lunch at the Toby Carvery firmly ticked this box!

He came out to the vehicle to find a yellow ticket on his windscreen claiming to be a ‘PCN’ and a bloke dressed up in a traffic warden costume next to the vehicle.

It is perhaps important to digress slightly here and say that Smart Parking Ltd acted illegally in calling the ticket a PCN. Only councils and government departments are allowed to use the word PCN. In reality Smart Parking’s PCN is just a speculative invoice. 

The ‘PCN’ and the idiot dressed up as a traffic warden claimed that the vehicle was guilty of “obstructive parking”. The ‘warden’ took my friend to the front of the vehicle to reveal he had parked no more than FOUR INCHES over a crooked and broken white line that had random criss-crosses in it. “That path is for a wheelchair and you have blocked it”, said the idiot parking man in his thick Nigerian accent.

Of course, in reality this couldn’t possibly have been for wheelchairs as there was a curb and the end of the ‘path’, a flounce of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, neither was it properly marked. Nevertheless the ‘warden’ told my friend “just dispute it, they always cancel them”.

So my friend wrote to Smart Parking Ltd, and said this was clearly nonsense and he wouldn’t be paying the ‘fine’ of £90 (reduced to £45 for good behaviour – how nice of them!) and asked them to cancel it. Of course, Smart Parking Ltd wrote back saying in fact that it was valid and demanded payment.

Smart Parking Ltd even stupidly sent a picture of the terms and conditions displayed on a car park sign. However, there was a problem with this… The photo of the sign was taken in an indoor car park – yet the vehicle was parked in an outside car park. Duh!

Smart Parking Ltd’s letter droned on about how they did no wrong and how anyone who enters the car park agrees to the terms and conditions – yeah right!

Unfortunately for Smart Parking Ltd, the friend they tried to scam is a legal genius who eats scammers for breakfast and smashes spurious legal claims to pieces. Smart Parking Ltd don’t know this at this point….. but they soon will 🙂

A few weeks went past a letter arrived from Debt Recovery Plus Ltd, although of course it wasn’t a letter it was a NOTICE (lol). This letter threatened if the ‘debt’ of £136 was not paid it would be transferred to the “legal team for their consideration” – frightening!

…The letter was ignored.

Then another letter arrived from Debt Recovery Plus Ltd, this time it claimed it was the “final chance” to settle the case with Smart Parking Ltd. It even kindly reduced the amount from £90 to £136; no seriously, I have that the correct way round!

Then he received the original letter from Debt Recovery Plus Ltd again, now demanding £160.

And another…

And another….

And another…..

And another……

Then another letter from Debt Recovery Plus Ltd. This time it was a NOTICE (lol) of “intended court action”. It still demanded £160, although Debt Recovery Plus Ltd has never stated how the amount has nearly doubled from the purported ‘PCN’!

Then another NOTICE, which was back to the original letter from Debt Recovery Plus Ltd, and demanded £160.

And then another…

It’s perhaps worth stating at this point my friend, being the legal genius he is, told Smart Parking Ltd he did not wish to have his details passed on. He also said further contact from Smart Parking Ltd and/or their servants/slaves or agents would be considered harassment. 

Six months later and 12 letters later from Debt Recovery Plus Ltd, a NOTICE (lol) arrives from Zenith Collections. It claimed to be “Without Prejudice”, although unclear as to what it was without prejudice to. It said that this time Smart Parking Ltd would accept £100 for the £90 ‘debt’, which inexplicably was claimed to have increased to £160.

Laughably, this letter said at the very bottom in extremely small writing you cannot read “Zenith Collections is a trading name of Debt Recovery Plus Ltd”. No surprise there then.

Suspiciously, the following can be noted between the two letters:

  • Debt Recovery Plus Ltd have a trading address of Dukinfield (Manchester).
  • Zenith Collections have a trading address of Ashton Under Lyne, you guessed it, also in Manchester.
  • Despite supposedly trading from two different offices in the Manchester area, both ‘registered offices’ for Debt Recovery Plus Ltd (trading as Zenith Collections) and the actual Debt Recovery Plus Ltd are in London, W1H 1DP.
  • Debt Recovery Plus Ltd and Zenith Collections both use 0208 numbers to call for ‘payment’. Odd for companies clearly based in Manchester!
  • A 2 second Google search of W1H 2DP has as the first hit “Virtual Office Services in London” – well, well…

Give these scammers their due, they do like a registered office in London to look big and professional.

Then he received a letter from Debt Recovery Plus Ltd being Debt Recovery Plus Ltd this time.

And then another…

And this is where it gets really exciting! A letter from Gladstones Solicitors! We all love a solicitors letter as they are a usually full of shite and overly threatening and aggressive – and usually when cases to get to Court, the Judge tells them off for it!

This time the letter claims the £160 is owed. But of course fails to explain how the claimed debt has risen from the original £90 ‘PCN’ to £160. That is, by the way, a breach of the solicitors code!

The letter claims that a payment should be made to Debt Recovery Plus. But hang on… the top of the letter says the ‘Claimant’ is Smart Parking Ltd? So how can Debt Recovery Plus Ltd instruct Gladstones Solicitors on behalf of Smart Parking Ltd? As my friend points out, they can’t.

Debt Recovery Plus Ltd utilising "The Chewbacca Defense"

Debt Recovery Plus are not Solicitors and have no legal right to practise litigation on behalf of Smart Parking Ltd. It should be Smart Parking Ltd instructing solicitors themselves, and of course if they should, seek the sum of £90 not the £160.

More fundamentally than that, Gladstones Solicitors should never have taken instructions from Debt Recovery Plus Ltd, as they (DR+) have no legal entitlement to work on behalf of Smart Parking Ltd.

Anyway, as to the rest of Gladstones’ letter, it was complete BS. They threaten that defending the claim their client (presumably, actually Smart Parking Ltd) may make, will increase the cost – which is basically another tactic to unjustifiably threaten and intimidate someone.

They claim that costs are likely to increase the debt, which may be: Fixed Costs, Court Fee(s), Judgement Costs and even Warrant fees and costs.

Once again this is complete rubbish to write in a pre-action letter. The costs they refer to are ONLY recoverable if they WIN the case. So these threats are simply more nonsense to make you pay a company who has no legal entitlement to act for the other company whose “debt” it actually is.

Of course what Gladstones do is try to threaten you in to paying, and make all kinds of stupid claims to stop you from defending your case. This is a breach of Solicitors Code and if you receive a letter like this you should report it to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Basically Gladstones is yet another dodgy solicitor firm, and seem to get away with it through threatening people.

My friend is baiting Gladstones and Smart Parking a bit more, before whacking a massive injunction against them in the High Court and suing them for harassment.

However if you have received a ‘PCN’ from Smart Parking, it is advised you follow the POLPA appeal process, and ‘do it by the book’. There are plenty of websites for appealing these ‘PCNs’ on the internet.

If your appeal is refused and you are being harassed by Smart Parking Ltd, Debt Recovery Plus Ltd or Gladstones Solicitors over a debt you do not owe (or do not think you owe), contacting a solicitor is advised, as Gladstones on occasion have been known to issue vexatious claims.

Hopefully this article is of use and watch out for scammers when you park your car in retail outlets!

P.S I wonder how long before I’m threatened with defamation action again…..  

Sup yo

34 thoughts on “Smart Parking Ltd SCAM – Car Park Ticket PCN SCAM”

  1. I enjoyed reading this lots, thanks. Just one bugbear; is the (I presume guessed) nationality of the parking attendant relevant? Feels like a bit of lazy stereotyping…

  2. Hey I’ve had several letters from death recovery plus and I have ignored all of them. I parked in Matalan car park. I have now recieved a letter from zenith collections stating if I refuse to pay then client may take legal action against you…. do I continue to ignore? Horrible people!!!

    1. I parked on what i thought was a Matalan car park, ive just recieved from SCS Law, London, E14 5LQ ! A pay up or a CCJ be obtained. It s a scary looking letter.

  3. Depends on the grounds of the ‘fine’ really. Did you contest it at the time?

    So it’s on record Id write and say you owe no money and intend to defend any intended legal action.

    Completely ignoring the letters is a bad idea. But writing an equally threatening one back telling them to do one or else you’ll make a harassment complaint against them may work…..

    1. Interesting. I’ve just filled in the appeal section at Smart Parking on behalf of my 17yr old daughter pointing out that their ‘contract’ with ‘me’ (my 17yr old daughter) is invalid, unenforcable and void. However, I’ve added that, in reading the appeal, they are entering into a contract (which is enforcable in that direction) whereby:
      1) they send a letter confirming withdrawal of the charge within 7 days
      2) immediately remove her details and her vehicle’s details from the system
      3) don’t make any further attempt at correspondence. A first attempt will result in them being invoiced for £250 to compensate for annyonance
      4) Any further attempts will result in legal action being considered for harassment and they will be reported for the ICO for contravening the GDPR.

      Etc

  4. I’m very familiar with these scum, however you are wrong in saying “It is perhaps important to digress slightly here and say that Smart Parking Ltd acted illegally in calling the ticket a PCN. Only councils and government departments are allowed to use the word PCN. In reality Smart Parking’s PCN is just a speculative invoice.” Yes, if the document inside the envelope claimed to be a “PCN – Penalty Charge Notice” it would be illegal, only councils, the police and some government organisations can issue penalties. However the Private Parking Companies are legally allowed to mark their envelopes “PCN” as long as the documentation inside the envelope, and subsequent NTK (notices to keeper) refers to “Parking Charge Notice”, the word “Penalty” must not be used, and nor is it. There isn’t a single Private Parking Company who use anything other than “Parking Charge Notice” on all of their paperwork.

  5. You could also consider action for breach of the Data Protection Act. Part of the rules of the parking company being able to apply for the DVLA keeper data is that they don’t pass it on to any third party, which they have clearly done here. Current compensation being awarded in the Small Claims court is around £750.

  6. I am currently appealing a Smart Parking ‘PCN’ for driving through a car park twice on the same evening without even stopping!
    A camera caught 2 images of my car 3 hours apart and assumed I have parked there for 167 minutes.
    POPLA is my next option.
    Smart Parking are a joke!

    Blyth

  7. I parked in the car park on flowers way and the machine was broke so i left my car for an hour as i didnt realise it was joint to the car park next to it,i recieved a letter from the dept collectors a month after saying because i had ignore the letters from smart parking(i never got any letters)i now owe them £160.. i did contact the dept collectors plus and explained i was willing to pay the original ticket however i was not paying the £160.That wasnt good enough and now they keep ringing..do i ignore them?

    1. HI Paige, I was in that flowers way car park very briefly on the same day , I can confirm that the ticket machine was out of order, I too got a pcn from smart parking and I have appealed it.

  8. We parked in Riverside Erith which is operated by Smart Parking. looked at the board on the way in:
    up to 3 hours FREE. Didn’t think anything more. Went to collect my order from Argos and left the car park 14 minutes later. A couple of weeks on and we got a PCN from Smart Parking for £100 reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days because although it is free to park for up to 3 hours, you still have to get a ticket. There is a * beside FREE and you have to read the small print. They have cameras on the carpark and sent us timed pictures of us entering and leaving the carpark. We appealed and they of course rejected it. We have appealed now to POPLA.

    I have written a letter of complaint to our Councillor and our MP.

    1. Hi Frances

      My wife is going through similar issue Riverside Erith how did your case end would know how you about it to escape from this scammers call themselves smart parking and debt recovery plus

  9. I innocently parked in what I thought was an ASDA carpark. Lifeboat Quay Poole. I received a letter/notification asking for £160 a month later from DRP Ltd. This was the first communication I had received so did not have knowledge of my error, or that I could appeal or that the original fine/charge was for £45 – (if I paid within 14 days) which obviously had passed by. Several letters/phone calls/ demands later from DRP and Smart Parking I have noow received a letter from Gladstones solicitors threatening court action. I don’t think it is fair to ask for £160 – I could have paid £45 if I had got the original, even though my disability and lack of mobility may be extenuating circumstances against the charge, but now I am a bit scared and worried and don’t know what to do. I have contacted Citizens Advice -Consumer rights who did not help much and also Community Legal advice who gave me the number for citizens advice, Popla were not much use as I have not got a verification no. Can anyone advise me what I should do next?

  10. Hi I’ve just received a notice from Smart Parking showing a photo of my car entering & leaving the car park in question a quarter of an hour over supposed parking time. I know I paid for two hours parking as I paid a £60 fine to them last year when I realised I’d stayed over my hour slot & thought I don’t want to get caught again.
    Trouble is I’ve thrown my ticket away. After reading various articles about the scam company they are I wonder where I stand? Do I ignore or appeal?

  11. I parked in a car park in the centre of Billericay for an clinical appointment and saw the cameras, notices and other cars with tickets on the dashboard. I always get a ticket in car parks, or check to see if charges are payable at the time I’m parking there, so proceeded to the machine and bought one.

    About 3 weeks after parking there, a letter arrived from Smart Parking with a picture of my car arriving and another of it leaving 37 minutes later. Their claim was that I hadn’t bought a ticket, or had over-stayed – the minimum charge is for one hour, so I knew they were alleging that I hadn’t bought a ticket. What they hadn’t banked on was that I park in pay-and-display car parks so infrequently that I keep all of the tickets for up to 3 months. I pulled out the ticket and to my amazement, it even had my registration number on it (that I had input into the machine).

    Of course they couldn’t argue with the valid ticket, but it started me wondering how many of the speculative parking charge notices they actually send out and how many are paid by people that are either frightened of the consequences of not paying, or doubt their memories and whether that they had failed to comply with the car park’s T&Cs.

    This company clearly has something wrong with it’s systems if it doesn’t know that a ticket is issued, even when the registration mark has been given to the ticket machine. Or, could this be a scam? Surely not 🙂

    I’m now wondering if I can have any fun with this? I’ve already written to the DVLA complaining that they have given out keeper details without justification and asked for full details fo the request and reply – any other ideas?

    1. Well done you. I received a parking fine from them and was sure that I had paid for a ticket. They won’t provide any detail to establish whether I bought one or not. I have spoken to them and they seem very dodgy. Once the initial two weeks have passed you can only speak with Debt Recovery Plus. I have refused to pay the increased fine but they keep sending me letters, the latest one has kindly given me an extended 2 weeks to pay £160. How kind of them! I will be happy to go to court and explain how they mange their business. Aren’t terms and conditions meant to be transparent. Apparently not!

  12. I had to take my Mother to Aldershot Health Center, as we were running short on time I dropped her at the main entrance and then went to the parking lot. I parked in the disability area, my blue badge was on full display, made a couple of phone calls and wandered over to the health center, met Mum on the way out so we went back to the car. Is this a good place to mention that parking with a valid blue badge is free?
    well about 3 weeks later the infamous letter arrived and I had 2 days to get in an appeal. All I ever received was an email because I had attached my drivers license instead of front an back of blue badge, no biggie sent them off. Never heard another word until Friday saying they were going to press charges on me.
    So because I didn’t register my blue badge, I never did get inside the health center they now want £160.00 for a free parking space. I could understand a warning and if I was stupid enough to do it again then could try and fine me.

  13. I went to collect my parents from the railway station, in Hull, and parked in the small Royal Hotel car park which is attached to the station. They have a photo of me entering the car park at 13:08. I bought a ticket, which has my registration number on it, at 13:12, from the machine about 5 cars away from where I had parked. I left the car park at 13:38 according to their photo. A few weeks later I received a PCN claiming I had not paid for the parking. I went onto the Smart Parking website, which would not allow me to upload a scan of my ticket, so I gave the all of the details instead. They declined my appeal. I then contacted POPLA and sent them a scan of the ticket – they also declined, claiming I must have bought the ticket elsewhere! I am not an Olympic athlete – in 4 minutes to enter the car park, run to an adjacent car park (not even sure where that would be) and then go back to the original car park to collect my parents! I now have DRP letter. I am prepared to go to court with my evidence but I would rather not. This is making me quite ill with the stress but I don’t see why I should pay a fine when I have done everything correctly.

    1. Did you go to court? I’ve just received a DRP and intend to fight it in court after putting my money in machine and not getting a ticket. Another gentleman had the same thing happen to him and although Smart Parking ignored my request for the log, they did provide it to POPLA who gave it to me. The log showed the only payment in the hour of my arrival was for £7.50 which covers 24 hours, but in all probability the payee only needed 2 hours of parking and benefited from the extra £5.00 from myself and the other gentleman.

  14. I went on a Universal Credit SIA course at Challenge House, Mitcham Road, Croydon back in June 2018 and on two days my wife parked in the front car-parking bay for 4 minutes and 12 minutes respectively staying in the car waiting for me to come out. There were no signs to say No Parking but after I appealed my ‘PCN’s’ in July low and behold, brand new large blue and white signs appeared in August . Despite meeting one of the Partners and being given a ‘special’ email address to explain my circumstances, nothing was heard until a Debt recovery letter from said ‘Debt recovery Plus Ltd. arrived for £320.

    I am a Veteran stressed out with rent payments and actively looking for work (on behalf of the agreement I made with the Job Centre) while these people are making a living on the proceeds of TaxPayers money through the DWP who in turn (according to my MP) cannot intervene.
    Something is very wrong here that the Authorities cannot ensure that this kind of immoral practice (i.e., theft in their name) is allowed to carry on in broad daylight without any repercussions or laws, something I thought I had put the uniform on to protect. So much for the Forces Covenant.

  15. I am still being chased by Smart Parking for what they say was a breach of their terms on 27th March 2018 on car park on the corner of Broad Street/Parliament Street Nottingham. I tried entering my reg number but machine only showed a 7 so I entered my money and left within the allotted time. I have since been chased by Debt Control companies and now received a solicitors letter
    I would be interested to learn if anyone else has had problems with machines on this site and in particular on 27th March
    I asked for details of entries on this machine under the freedom of information act but Smart Parking refused to provide these details

    1. I have had a similar problem at Hull Royal Hotel carpark. The machine showed my number, I put in my money, but no ticket or refund of my money. Another gentleman told me the same thing had just happened to him. Left note on dash incase a warden was around and left the carpark under the allotted time. Received a ticket, appealed and asked for copy of the vehicle log for that time but no log provided and appeal rejected. Appealed to POPLA, who sent me a copy of the log given to them by Smart Parking which showed nobody had paid at my arrival time of 09:15, but there was a payment at 09:46 of £7.50. The charges at this carpark are £2.50 for two hours, £5.00 for four hours and £7.50 for 24 hours. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the next person’s payment after my arrival was for £7.50, this would account for the £5.00 myself, and the other gentleman had put in the machine. POPLA have rejected the appeal, no surprise there as I have yet to hear of anyone successfully appealing. I have now received a debt recovery letter from the so called recovery company. Unfortunately because of data protection, I will have to engage solicitors for any court hearing to get supporting evidence such as the exit time of the vehicle that paid £7.50, license number of both vehicles, that is the vehicle who entered before me and paid but got no ticket and was also witnessed the same thing happening to me, and the other driver who may have only had the intention of parking for a couple of hours.

  16. I’ll but you a coffee!

    I received a fine, for not even parking in the car park! I appealed, didn’t hear from them until 3 weeks later, despite me emailing. Then got a rejection email saying its been too long and now debt recovery plus are managing this.

    I DARE them to come for me! F*ck*rs

  17. Ive got a ticket from smart parking beside tkmaxx in Newry. I parked there for 2h45 min ( leave after 10.45pm) . They want me to Paid £100. No tickets to buy there ( apparently is a privet one) . Do i have to pay or just ignore it ?

  18. I recently received a parking ticket from Smart Parking Ltd. I had parked in a car park on a very windy day, purchased and displayed a ticket then left to visit a few shops. When I returned I discovered a parking charge notice on my car.

    It turned out that when closing my car door, the wind had presumably flipped the ticket over, unfortunately I didn’t notice this.

    I wrote to Smart Parking Ltd and enclosed a copy of my valid ticket but of course they weren’t interested stating it I had “breached the advertised terms and conditions” and it had to be paid.

    They mentioned POPLA but stated this would take me over the “early payment period” so I would e liable to pay the full amount.

    Where do I stand on this?

  19. My wife parked in a site operated by Smart Parking and mistakenly keyed in the wrong reg of our car. We got a PCR FOR £100 reduced to £60 for prompt payment. I appealed and sent them the actual parking ticket with the wrong reg number on it but showing a payment made. They rejected my appeal and now want £100 and incremental increases of £10 if I don’t pay
    I’ve told them I refuse to pay for a clear and proven error relating to my registration number. Don’t know what to do next. But I ain’t paying these clowns. We are pensioners and don’t need this hassle.

    1. Hi Thomas,
      A similar thing happened to me in March in Carlisle.
      I paid the correct minimum fee, which was for 2 hours and only stayed 35 mins. I put my full VRN in, but didn’t check my ticket. Fortunately I kept the ticket but when I received a PCN 3 weeks later I checked and it had only captured the first 2 letters of my VRN. I immediately appealed and of course was rejected. I am currently going through POPLA, but again smart parking are trying to claim I am in the wrong for breach of signage and through their side of the appeal, continue to repeat themselves to the tune of nearly 13 pages!
      I’m not too sure what to do next if this is rejected again because like yourselves it is clear I parked there at those times and have the ticket and car to prove it was me.
      I hope you have managed to shake off them off it’s all wrong and they shouldn’t be allowed to do this to innocent people!

  20. I received a parking notice from P SMART PARKING after parking at Lincoln Station. I tried several times to insert my 50p coin, and the appeared to be blocked. My credit card was not accepted. I only needed to stay for a very short time as I was waiting to meet a 76year old from the train. As I would outstay the “free time” allowed, and as I was unable to obtain a ticket I decided to leave the car park and return nearer to the time of the arrival of the train. I returned and as I was slightly too long in the car
    park, I received a ticket by post.
    I wrote to the company, as there ARE MANY THING WRONG ONTHE ‘PCN’ NOTICE ! ! !
    1) The FAX NUMBER DOES NOT WORK —Discontinued.
    2) THE “REGISTERED OFFICE ” of the company in Scotland NO LONGER EXISTS ! ! !
    3) It would be kinder if times of opening of the office where payment is made is stated on
    the PCN Notice. A “robot” answers the ‘phone at weekends and evenings. This line is only useful
    for payment. No care or thought is given to the victim. Also is the notice legal if erroneous
    information is on the “PCN NOTICE” ??

  21. Parked at Shopper’s World in Ammanford three weeks agos for, according to their twin photos of the car reg, from 10:18 to 10:34 pm and received a £100 fine reduced to £60 for early payment.

    I took a look in the day and yes, the parking notification signs are at the entrance and there is a board and machine tucked away in the bottom right hand side of the car park. Bang to rights I guess, but a re-visit at night and the entrance signs do not have independant illumination but utilise the lights from unrelated road signs at a road junction outside the carpark. The parking charge and machine are as I said tucked away in absolute pitch darkness and the machine wasnt even switched on. Its ludicrous that Smart Parking think this is in anyway an adequate way of displaying the Ts&Cs and the parking costs for night time parkers whom only want a little while to visit one of the many take away shops in the surrounding area.

    I checked their website and their mission statement drones on about how they know it is frustrating for businesses to have to deal with errant parkers which could impact their business and affect the environment. Shopper’s World isnt even open after late afternoon not to mention night time meaning short term parking in their car park has zero impact on their business or clog up the streets. If overnight parking is an actual problem, why cant these cowboys initiate a free hour with no return before another hour or something like that.

    I find that they are hoping to catch people like me who take advantage of a deserted dark car park at night who do not notice the unlit parking charge board in the corner.

    I paid the fine as soon as I could because the stress of ignoring, getting letters, threats of courts I can do with out, but as a low paid minimum wage worker who works for a business in Ammanford myself, I find it disasteful that such a bunch of cynical profiteers are allowed to operate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *