David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Wheel clamping company issues penalty of $450

Wheel clamping fees have been labelled "obscene". Photo / iStock
Wheel clamping fees have been labelled "obscene". Photo / iStock

They promised wheel clamping would never cost more than $200 - but one company owner who made the pledge has a business threatening motorists with charges up to $450.

Wheel clamping fees have been labelled "obscene" and the industry itself described as a "racket" during Herald inquiries into the practice.

Evidence of fees more than double the promised amount emerged today and follows the revelation the private parking enforcement industry is preparing to launch a new Code of Conduct which will massively reduce clamping.

The promise of penalties "of up to $450" was on a sign in Henderson.
The promise of penalties "of up to $450" was on a sign in Henderson.

The promise of penalties "of up to $450" for motorists who were "clamped, towed, ticketed" was on a sign in Henderson, next to the community centre.

The sign was erected by Elite Parking Services Ltd, owned by bankrupt Gordon Ward who was among those who signed up to the wheel clamping Code of Conduct in 2012. The code promised: "The fees we charge you for clamping will be fair and reasonable and will never exceed $200."

At the time, he was signing on behalf of Comprise Group Ltd, which is now in liquidation. Mr Ward also owned NZ Wheel Clamping Co Ltd, which is also in liquidation owing about $434,000.

A month before the collapse of those companies, Mr Ward was listed as director and 50 per cent shareholder of Elite Parking Services. The company has gone on to pick up clamping contracts in suburban Auckland, the same area in which NZ Wheel Clamping Co Ltd looked for business.

Elite Parking Services found itself facing criticism by shoppers at Titirangi after charging $200 to free cars which were clamped in disabled parks outside the local SuperValue store.

Mr Ward contacted the Herald today, saying he put NZ Wheel Clamping Co Ltd into liquidation after "it had grown debt laden because of back taxes".

He said he would answer other questions about the operation of Elite Parking Services but was unable to do so immediately. The Herald has emailed him a short list of questions and an invitation to comment.

Automobile Association senior policy analyst Mark Stockdale told the Herald new voluntary rules for private sector parking enforcement companies were hoped to be in place before the end of the year.

He said wheel clamping fees of $200 were "obscene" and couldn't be justified. The new Code of Conduct would make clamping a last resort.

Labour MP Phil Goff took up the cause of motorists clamped near his electorate office in Mt Roskill. He said the practice "seemed like a racket" after he discovered people were facing charges of around $500 for parking in the wrong place - often by accident.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 28 Mar 2017 17:49:01 Processing Time: 668ms