An Auckland man who had his wheel clamped has won back his $150 fine in court.
Totara Vale's David Taylor was stung with the on-the-spot fine after he parked in a visitors area outside the Chinese Embassy on 630 Great South Rd on July 30.
The Herald has previously reported on the Ellerslie hotspot, but the car park services boss maintains that people just need to read the signs to know the rules and the practice is fair.
Taylor told the Herald he parked briefly under the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China's sign.
He was planning a trip to Beijing and needed to pop in to finalise some visa details.
Taylor said he had never visited the embassy before but whipped into the only available visitors park.
He noticed the Amalgamated Car Parking Services staff member nearby but was not verbally warned he would be clamped, he said.
"I was probably gone 10, maybe 15 minutes, and when I came out there was a clamp on my car."
The staff member told him that he would have to cough up $150 before the clamp would be removed and Taylor felt he had no choice as he needed to return to work.
"He wouldn't listen to me ... He didn't want to know," he said.
"I tell you categorically they are making a fortune outside that Chinese Embassy, an absolute fortune."
The thing that "really upsets" Taylor was that most people would only need to visit the embassy once and - not being familiar with the rules - were bound to wind up with their cars clamped.
"It's not like you know you are going to get towed away. The signs are not clear."
There was a tow-away sign but Taylor assumed it was for people who were not parking to use the Chinese Embassy, he said.
The court ruled there was no notice that Taylor was "bound to see" that would have warned him of the clamping policy.
"Before I even went to court, I wrote to these people [Amalgamated] three or four times," he said.
Taylor said he explained what had unfolded and asked for a refund.
"All they keep sending me back was generic letters," he said.
It went back and forth until Taylor decided to pursue the matter with the Disputes Tribunal.
Somebody had to "stand up" to clampers, he said.
"You hear some horror stories ... well it happened to me. I couldn't believe it."
Amalgamated Car Parking Services boss Craig Burrows said the "bottom line" was the company followed procedure and had never had a problem in the past, he said.
"We follow a strict structure with photos - dated, stamped, and everything.
"You are picking on the wrong person for clamping.
"Our fees are minimal, our fees are the lowest in the industry, they start at $50 to $150."
Burrows said he was not in a position to comment on the specific case but said people "were more than welcome" to take complaints to the small claims court as "99 per cent of the time I win them".
The Disputes Tribunal ordered Supercity Towing Ltd to pay Taylor $150 on or before October 16 - money Taylor now has in hand.
Taylor said if he had simply been warned he "would have just moved" and avoided the situation altogether.
In August, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi and Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced proposed legislation that would cap the maximum that could be charged for the removal of a wheel clamp at $100 .
"The law has been sadly lacking and that has resulted in some of the cowboy operators charging outrageous fees," Faafoi said at the time.