Wheel clamping companies accused of bullying

By Amelia Wade

File photo / Glenn Taylor
File photo / Glenn Taylor

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A clamping company charging people $100 for parking a minute in a supermarket car park has been accused of bullying.

But NZ Wheel Clamping say they are well within their rights to make people pay as much as they want and warned that if they didn't want to pay, don't park in that spot.

The Automobile Association said the firm's practice was further evidence that the clamping sector was running wild without desperately needed regulations.

The car park on Frost Rd, opposite Mt Roskill Primary School, is a popular spot for parents to pick up their children after school. But that blocked the businesses from legitimate car parks, so the property owner hired NZ Wheel Clamping to manage the site.

The firm put up signs stating that any vehicle using the car park for any purpose other than conducting business would be issued a parking violation notice at a cost of $100.

Infringement fees have been issued to motorists who stopped for one minute, gone into one of the businesses without buying anything and who have paused to open a garage door.

Some people have received charges of more than $500 and if they're not paid within seven days a $60 "administration fee" is added. If it still isn't paid within two weeks another $120 added before it is handed to a debt collection agency after 21 days.

The company has no authority to fine people, but it can issue "breach notices" from the "actual and reasonable costs the company has incurred" from a person's actions.

Mt Roskill MP Phil Goff said NZ Wheel Clamping was using enforcement as a "money-making racket".

He said he understood the concern of retailers who want the car park available for their customers, but that this was not the answer.

"The company is fleecing people who can ill-afford the cost and it's not a fair go.

"There is a problem for the retailers but this is not the answer. I have called a meeting of the local school principals, local board representatives and Auckland Transport to try to find a solution to the problem of 3000-4000 school students leaving school at the same time, causing the parking problems.

"In the meantime people should know that advice from the Automobile Association and Consumer Affairs is that the Wheel Clamping Company has no statutory authority to fine people.

"Rather than pay the bill people should invite the Company to take the matter to a Disputes Tribunal", Mr Goff said in a statement.

- NZ Herald

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