Consumer New Zealand says moves to regulate wheel clamping are better than nothing, following confirmation from the Government they are working on legislation.

Chief executive Sue Chetwin said she would prefer the practice be banned outright, a step the Government is unlikely to take.

"Nevertheless I applaud the Government for doing something because we've been banging on about this for years."

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said yesterday officials were in the final stages of drafting recommendations.

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The preferred recommendations would then be taken to Cabinet to be signed off.

• READ MORE: Cowboy clampers lying in wait to clamp wheels in seconds
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• READ MORE: Clamped while in the car: Auckland motorists crying foul at clampers' fees

Suzanne Chetwin of Consumer NZ says regulation is a start - but the organisation would still prefer a total ban of the practice.
Suzanne Chetwin of Consumer NZ says regulation is a start - but the organisation would still prefer a total ban of the practice.

The most likely option for regulation was introducing a cap on the amount a private parking enforcement company could demand from a motorist who has had their wheel clamped.

"When people are being asked for hundreds of dollars instantly or they won't get their car that's when people are getting understandably angry," Faafoi said.

The Minister said he was conscious of fine tuning the balance between the rights of property owners and motorists, and was therefore unlikely to call for a total ban of the controversial practice.

"We're still doing the final work of getting the balance right.

Chetwin said she would still prefer to see a full ban, because the organisation's position was still that the controversial practice was wrong.

"Nevertheless, if there was going to be a cap on the amount that could be charged that would be better than what's going on now where the consumer has virtually no rights."

She didn't necessarily agree with Faafoi's argument about balancing the right of property owners with motorists.

"Of course people have property rights but those rights aren't unfettered."

Chetwin argued that if the property owner wanted to invoke their rights it was often with the goal of getting an unauthorised vehicle off their property - something clamping did not achieve.

However regulation was "a good start", she said.

Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi says officials are in the final stages of drafting recommendations about regulation options. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi says officials are in the final stages of drafting recommendations about regulation options. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The AA's Mark Stockdale has also said the organisation's preferred option would be banning the practice, as the current voluntary code of conduct wasn't addressing ongoing problems.

"We would welcome any signals that the Government is looking at any sort of regulations of wheel clamping.

"It'd be great if those regulations were a ban, but even if they were required to meet similar standards as the tow truck industry that would be a start."

Within the industry, a staffer at one Auckland towing and clamping company said he welcomed regulation.

The man asked not to be named, but provided comment as the company's boss was currently overseas and couldn't be reached.

He welcomed regulation and thought a cap on clamping fees was reasonable.

The Government has not yet indicated what the fee might be capped at.

"I've read the debate that's going on about it and my personal opinion is it should be regulated and not banned," the man said.

The Herald asked for comment from other private parking enforcement companies but did not receive a response before publication.