A total ban on wheel clamping is still on the table as Cabinet considers its options on how to regulate the private parking enforcement industry.

Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi has previously said his preferred option would be to put a cap on the amount companies could charge to remove a clamp and indicated a ban would be unlikely.

However all options are available to Cabinet when considering legislation, he told the Herald today.

"We're still going through the process of finalising exactly where we'll land on that, whether it's an outright ban or we regulate that and cap the price of a fee to remove a clamp."

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He reiterated the need to balance the rights of motorists with that of private property owners.

Predatory and aggressive behaviour were concerning to the minister, he said.
Predatory and aggressive behaviour were concerning to the minister, he said.

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Faafoi's comments followed footage captured by the Herald of an Elite Parking Services warden clamping a reporter's car after she'd been parked for 30 minutes in a two-hour zone.

The Herald had been visiting the West Auckland retail complex following complaints from the public about predatory practices by Elite, including elderly motorists being asked to stump up $200 on the spot for parking for 20 minutes in the 120-minute zone.

A NZ Herald journalist was wrongly clamped despite purchasing food from the shopping complex and parking for less than 30 minutes. Photo / NZ Herald
A NZ Herald journalist was wrongly clamped despite purchasing food from the shopping complex and parking for less than 30 minutes. Photo / NZ Herald

"That is exactly the kind of behaviour we're worried about, which has gone on for far too long," Faafoi said.

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"We don't like what's going on. Some of the stuff that was on the [Herald] website made you aghast, especially because your journalist wasn't even there for the allotted amount of time before there was a parking infringement."

He had also heard several stories of "elderly people asked to cough up on the spot what I would call exorbitant amounts of money".

A series of articles by the Herald over the last year detailed incidents where motorists were clamped twice in an hour, while still in the car, or moments after leaving their vehicle after parking in the wrong spot.

A code of conduct says a 10-minute grace period must be allowed before a clamp can be applied.

But the code is voluntary and many smaller private parking companies simply haven't signed up to it.

The industry is otherwise completely unregulated, which lead to the kind of behaviour above which "simply cannot carry on".

Faafoi couldn't put a time frame on when legislation would be passed, but hoped it would be sooner rather than later.

"This is an issue people are sick and tired of, so the sooner the better."