Motorists having wheels clamped while sitting inside their cars are the latest in a string of woeful tales about the current unregulated state of private parking in New Zealand.
Two Auckland motorists were clamped in different parts of the city by parking enforcement staffers waiting nearby.
One clamper told a woman she could finish up her business before coming back to pay to have the clamp removed, meaning her car would keep taking up space in the car park.
The AA's Mark Stockdale said such behaviour "smacks of revenue raising" because the point of clamping was ultimately to free up a park.
"If there are people in the car and can move the car then the problem is solved."
He urged the Government to act quickly on the issue to stop "cowboy operators clamping people willy nilly".
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said he was still seeking advice from officials on the issue and had put a Member's Bill submitted by Labour while in opposition back in the ballot.
People who believed they had been treated unfairly should look at the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment's consumer protection website for advice.
Herald reporter Holly Ryan arrived at the Chinese Consulate just before it opened at 9am last Friday.
After parking in a spot she thought was reserved for consulate visitors and getting in line inside the building, Ryan was warned by another woman she should move her car or risked being clamped.
She walked back to her car and could see a man approaching.
"I opened up the door and was getting in and said 'look sorry I'm just leaving, I didn't know I was parked in the wrong place'."
Ryan has one foot inside her car when the man slapped a clamp on one of her wheels, telling her she was "too late" and had to pay $150 up front to get it taken off.
"It was so fast. I assumed he was a reasonable guy," Ryan said.
The Amalgamated Car Parking Services staffer then told her she could go back into the consulate to get her visa and come out and pay him afterward - when she asked where he'd be, he said waiting in the same spot.
"It wasn't about the car park, he wasn't doing his job to try and keep the car park clear for the person's it was. He was just out to get people."
Ryan spoke to others at the consulate, who told her they'd been charged two or three times as much as she had.
"There's an arbitrary amount, there's no rhyme or reason to what he's charging it's more like it's what he thinks he can get away with."
While at the site, Ryan also saw a woman get out of her car and the clamper leap into action as she walked away, clamping her wheel within a minute.
The current voluntary code of conduct regulating private car parking enforcement, which Amalgamated is not a signatory to, states a ten minute grace period must be allowed.
"They have the power because you can't leave until you pay the money," Ryan said.
Amalgamated boss Craig Burrows expressed irritation at being called, saying he would prefer to look into the situation rather than have another story written about clamping.
"I've got better things to do," he said.
He said information about the case should be sent through and if something had been done wrong on Amalgamated's part he would reconsider the fee.
In a similar tale, an Auckland resident who asked we use his middle name, Pal, because he felt so intimidated, said an Elite Parking Services staffer clamped his car as he sat in it in a Papatoetoe car park on Monday morning.
"The guy just came to my car quickly, he put the lock on the car's wheel. I asked him, I was shocked, 'what happened to my car'."
The man said he's broken the rules and had to pay $200 to have his wheel released.
Pal wondered how the man could know that when he hadn't yet left his vehicle, which was parked outside the Bank of India on east Tamaki Rd.
The man also swore at an intimidated him, he claimed.
"How can you judge the person sitting inside the car," Pal said.
"It was one of the worst experiences I've ever had."
Elite Parking has been approached for comment.