Shoppers at a West Auckland retail complex are having their cars clamped after being parked in a 120-minute park after only half an hour.
A handful of drivers were clamped by an Elite Parking Services warden after parking at 20 Sel Peacock Drive parking complex in Henderson last Wednesday.
Shopper Tayla Dawson told the Herald that as she pulled into the car park she noticed several cars had clamps around their wheels as well as yellow stickers.
But when she stepped out of her car, chaos unfolded.
"A man was absolutely losing his s**t. His elderly mum was in tears after she was clamped by some scruffy looking parking warden."
According to Dawson, the elderly woman was parked in a 120-minute zone for just 20 minutes while she was in one of the complex's stores before she got clamped.
When the son spotted the warden standing next to another clamped car he shouted out, "this is the guy who clamped my mum's car!"
That's when the parking warden confronted the elderly woman.
"The old lady and the son were going off, asking why he had ticketed his mum but not him. The son said 'We've been here the same time, we went to the same shop so why are you clamping an old lady but not me?'," Dawson explained.
But the parking warden shrugged his shoulders, Dawson said.
"The old lady was beside herself."
"She's like 'why are you doing this to me?' He pointed to the sign and said 'You're only allowed to be here for 120 mins' and she's saying 'I've only been here 30min!. He responded saying 'well I can't remove it until you've paid me $200'."
"She burst into tears and was like 'I'm widowed and I'm on a pension and you want to take my money off me?' He said 'oh yeah the rules are the rules' and he pulls out a tatty Eftpos machine and she pays him. He removed the clamps and she drove off."
But the ordeal wasn't over.
According to Dawson, a man in a station wagon who is alleged to be working for Elite Parking Services, slowly drove past the premises and pointed out to the warden which cars to clamp next.
"The warden then clamped another car before sitting down in front of the bakery to have a ciggie and a pie and looking at his next victims to clamp," she told the Herald.
"For the third time in the space of 40 minutes, the guy in the station wagon came around the corner and pointed at cars again.
"As I'm about to get out of my car to collect my washing the guy in the station wagon points at my car to clamp.
"I started freaking out. I'm a young mum, I don't have $200 to pay for a b******t clamping fine. I told my sister to run into the laundromat to get the washing so we wouldn't get clamped."
"They're just targeting older women and people they can intimidate. This warden just clamped people after half an hour. I feel really bad for the elderly widow who had to wrongly fork out $200 on the spot."
On Thursday the Herald fell victim to the parking warden after he clamped a journalist's car - despite the fact a cameraman from the same vehicle had legitimately purchased items from the complex's bakery.
When our reporter confronted the warden after he wrongly clamped the journalist's car, he brushed her aside before saying "I'm not breaking the law, I'm just trying to do my job".
"It's not illegal [what we're doing]," he said.
Regular Sel Peacock Drive shopper Alex Malatincoba wasn't surprised to see the Herald video team wrongly clamped.
She told the Herald she herself was just one of the many victims who have been clamped and fined by the warden.
"So many people have been clamped. He sits there every day. Every morning, every afternoon.
"I had a $100 ticket that I was made to pay. He told me I have to pay because I was parked here illegally. But I bought something from a shop and showed him the receipt and he didn't care."
Elite Parking Services has recently been in the spotlight for its aggressive clamping behaviour.
Just last month it was reported a woman was clamped and fined $200, also at 20 Sel Peacock Drive in Henderson, despite only parking there for five minutes.
A few weeks earlier on March 26 Bryan Ward was also clamped in the same carpark by an Elite Parking Services warden and received a $450 fine in the mail.
It was reported that Ward ripped the clamp off and drove away, before being followed in a car by the parking warden.
A sick 86-year-old grandmother also had her car clamped by Elite Parking Services on the way to the doctors in Great North Rd in April. The warden was not wearing a uniform and had no company ID.
Former Elite Parking owner Gordon Ward's former company NZ Wheel Clamping Company, which was accused of bullying drivers, went into liquidation in 2014 after being unable to keep up with debts.
NZ Wheel Clamping Company was criticised in 2012 for forcing an 88-year-old war veteran to pay a fine after his car was clamped for being in a mobility space - even though he had a valid parking permit.
Contacted by the Herald, Elite Parking Services said people were "able to appeal the ticket/clamp through written correspondence and provide their own evidence during this process".
"If the evidence is found to be sufficient the owing amount may be waived and the paid amount may be returned in full. If the appeal is unsuccessful, they are welcomed to dispute this by law," the company added in a statement sent to the Herald.
Elite Parking Services defended the incident relating to a Herald reporter saying "the person whose car was clamped was seen leaving the carpark at some point and left their car on the property".
"Upon returning and calling the call centre, this person was then told that if they can show their receipts to the staff member on site, they would be voided.
"The person and their companion were able to provide receipts from a shop on site although they had left the carpark and therefore the clamp and fine were voided."
"Your reporter today was clamped for this reason and was then voided due to staff being unable to determine if the secondary person had remained on site. The terms of the carpark, as with all private property, is determined by the owner of the site and is enforced by Elite Parking Services," the company said.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said it was legal for parking companies to take enforcement action, and to apply charges where a customer had overstayed or parked in a car park where they were not a customer.
"The parking company needs to have the authority of the landowner or business to do so," a spokeswoman said.
If consumers believed that the enforcement action was unreasonable, they should dispute this with the parking operator and beyond that to the Disputes Tribunal.
More details are available at the Consumer Protection website.