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Locked in car park overnight without warning, given PCN for overstaying
visitorfromreddi...
post Thu, 8 Nov 2018 - 12:49
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I recently joined a 24-hour budget gym. My first few sessions I arrived by car at around 9pm and left by 10pm. One day I finished at 10:10pm, and found my car locked behind a gate. Another guy was in the same situation, and so we went inside the gym to find someone to let us out, but the staff had gone home for the night. The out-of-hours contact point went straight to a third-party company who were unable to help. The parking company's phone number told me to ring back during working hours. I had to walk home and then return to collect my car at 7am the next morning.

A couple of weeks later I received a parking charge notice in the post from the external company responsible for managing the car park, showing that I'd overstayed by 8 hours longer than the 2 hours permitted. I've appealed through their online appeals form, attaching my gym access log showing my 55 minute workout time and the picture of the parking company's car park sign, which doesn't state any restricted hours. I'm waiting to hear back from them, and if they decline my appeal I can then appeal through the BPA's appeals process.

Things to note:
  • The gym had absolutely no signage inside, outside or online indicating restricted parking hours, else I wouldn't have parked there on any of my previous visits (there's unrestricted on-street parking nearby). I wear headphones when I work out, so there could have been a voice announcement saying the car park was closing, but I don't think there was.
  • The gym recently moved to 24h opening; it previously closed at 10pm.
  • I emailed the gym that evening and didn't receive a response, but the next day found a very prominent hand-written sign inside the main entrance stating the car park closes at 10pm. This sign has since been replaced with a larger, professionally-printed sign with the gym's logo on it.
  • I rang the gym to discuss this, and spoke to someone from a central office rather than my gym specifically. He effectively acknowledged that the gym had identified the issue and put the signs up afterwards, but was unwilling to do anything to assist in my ticket - "it's managed by a separate company so we have nothing to do with it". But it was almost certainly the gym employees who closed the gate; I'm not even sure the parking company is aware of this practice.
  • The parking company's sign is easily visible, and in several places in the car park. It mentions a 2 hour maximum stay and £85 parking charge (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days). No mention of specific hours, or that further parking conditions exist elsewhere.
What can I do to fight this, assuming the worst from my appeal? My main worry is that the parking company say "it's not us who locked the gate so pay the fine", and that the gym continue to refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing.
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post Thu, 8 Nov 2018 - 12:49
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ostell
post Thu, 8 Nov 2018 - 13:01
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Should not really be a problem as there was a frustration of contract as events out of your control prevented you fulfilling the contract correctly. It won't stop the begging letters but if it gets to court then it won't look good for them. Get some photos of the signs showing that there is no time limit. Could be a counterclaim for holdig your car.

Ask your local council who pays business rates on the car park to find out who really controls it. Probably the gym but they can't be bothered to handle complaints.
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visitorfromreddi...
post Thu, 8 Nov 2018 - 13:06
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Thanks for responding so quickly. I sent a picture of the parking company's sign with my appeal; hopefully that's enough. I'd rather not go to court because I'm a contractor, so financially it would make more sense to pay it and not have to miss a day of work. Sounds like it won't go that far though.
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Redivi
post Thu, 8 Nov 2018 - 13:11
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Parking companies are not in the habit of accepting appeals

Which company ?
Most never issue claims
One issues thousands but cancels any that are defended

Do you really want to be a member of a gym that treats its customers in this fashion ?

This post has been edited by Redivi: Thu, 8 Nov 2018 - 13:14
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