Parking tickets – NEVER just pay up

Parking tickets come in two forms. Most people never realise there is even a difference.

The first is that issued by a Statutory Authority, such as the local council or the Police. These are called PENALTY Charge Notices, PCNs, and are quite serious. They are a fine for a parking offence. They mean you have broken the law. They can be appealed, nonetheless.

The second, and by far the most common, is that issued by a Private Parking Company (known as PPCs), and these are not the same at all. They are called Parking Charge Notices (so that their acronym is also PCN, sneaky, eh?), but these have, and pay attention to this bit, NO LEGAL BASIS WHATSOEVER. They are a con, and they are a deliberate attempt to trick you into thinking you are paying a statutory authority for a genuine parking offence, which you are not. Their only claim is that you have somehow breached the contract you entered into by using the car park and this can ALWAYS be questioned, and usually overturned.

You must ALWAYS appeal any kind of parking notice, whether you find it on your windscreen or it just magically appears in the mail.

You may receive some scary letters, and the appeal process is made as complex and daunting as possible, with the intent to deliberately put you off and make you give in and pay. They may threaten you with Court proceedings, even.

If a Statutory Authority pursues you and rejects your appeal, you should pay up.

But you should NEVER pay if a private company threatens you in the same way.

The process to follow is too complex to go into here, and anyway, others have already explained it far more clearly than I ever could.

The invaluable starting point is MoneySavingExpert.com. Your first port of call should be this flowchart, which shows you the essence of the route you must follow.

You should then read this thread for further guidance. It particularly lists the different type of companies that may be issuing the tickets and it is important to ascertain which type of firm you are dealing with.

There are even template letters for you to send off to launch your appeal. It really is all laid out for you.

If you have any questions, contact either MSE.com’s forums or this website, and we will do our best to help you.

NB. There are firms that offer to do all this for you, which you will find at the top of any search on the topic. But they will require payment, so you’re better off doing it yourself with our help. Otherwise you may end up spending more than the ticket would have cost!

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Use by v. Best Before v. Sell by v. Display until

What is the difference between the different dates manufacturers and shops put on food?

Well, essentially, Sell by and Display until are nonsense. They are simply there as a calculation by the shop of how long the food will look good!

What matters, and the only one with any legal validity, is Use By. This is about the safety of the food, not its appearance. If food is being sold after its Use By date, then the retailer is committing an offence.

Here is a handy little summary gleaned from the Food Standards Agency website (food.gov.uk).

“‘Best before’ dates relate to food quality, including taste, texture and appearance. Eating food past its ‘best before’ date is unlikely to be harmful.

‘Use by’ date are the most important date for people to consider, as these relate to food safety.

While it is an offence to sell food after the ‘use by’ date, retailers can, with the exception of eggs, sell products after the ‘best before’ date, providing it is safe to eat. Eggs have a ‘best before’ date, but should not be eaten after the date shown on the label.

Retailers often use ‘sell by’ and ‘display until’ dates on their shelves, but these are not required by law and are used mainly for stock control purposes.”

Clearer? Good. Don’t want anyone getting ill over the festive season.

Bon Appetit and Happy New Year.

Good news for those lower down the supply chain

New regulations may soon come into force that will allow for fines to be doled out to supermarkets who squeeze their suppliers too tightly.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20591079

Supermarkets bow to pressure on “offers”

As any canny shopper knows, supermarket offers are not always as good as they seem.  We all know full well they fiddle the figures, with multi buys costing more than individual items, prices rising to justify subsequent cuts, and so on.

Well, after mentions on BBC Watchdog and research by the Office of Fair Trading, finally the rules have changed.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20543107

Interestingly, Asda have NOT signed up to this agreement to make offers fair and transparent.

Thought you’d like to know.

What’s new in the world of consumer protection?

Every so often, a news piece catches my eye or ear, and I think, “I must put that on the blog”.

So here are a few recent stories about how naughty firms have been caught out and told off recently and how consumers are being helped or hindered by recent announcements.

Payday loans companies have been warned about their practices

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20406659

Energy firms are going to be restricted to a maximum of four tariffs (plus a duel fuel option)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20404659

One in ten high street shops is empty

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20390416

Women’s car insurance premiums will rise – here comes that gender neutral thingy from the EU

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20317017

PPI Claims company now having the cheek to impersonate the OFT itself!

http://www.oft.gov.uk/consumer-advice/consumer-alerts/ppi/

The Consumer Affairs Minister, Jo Swinson, warns firms who refuse to hand over personal data on request

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20361954

Misleading makeup adverts banned

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14305041

If you see a story you think I may have missed, please let me know.

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