The parking operator issued the parking charge notice because the motorist parked without entering their registration details via an in-store terminal, when using a customer only car park.
The motorist explained that they were a legitimate user of the car park who was shopping in the relevant store. They also said they did enter their vehicle registration details into the terminal.
The motorist provided evidence of purchases to demonstrate they were a customer of the store.
The operator provided Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera photographs showing the motorist’s car entering and exiting the car park.
The operator provided copies of the signs at the car park confirming a requirement for customers to enter a full and correct vehicle registration into the terminal to quality for 1 ½ hours of free parking.
And they provided the results of a search for the motorist’s vehicle registration details on a system that records all registrations entered on the day. The list of registration numbers did not include the appellant’s car.
Neither party disputes that the motorist parked on the day in question. The appeal is based around the motorist’s claim that they were a legitimate customer and they did enter their registration into the on-site terminal.
There was no log of the motorist’s registration on a search of the operator’s systems. But the motorist has provided receipts showing they were a legitimate car park user who made purchases in store. One conclusion that might be drawn from this evidence is that the motorist may have keyed their registration incorrectly at the terminal.
Section 17 of the British Parking Association Code of Practice covers the steps a parking operator should take when a keying error occurs. If there has been a minor keying error, for example one digit entered incorrectly, the parking operator is expected to have identified this before issuing a parking charge notice. If they failed to do this, they are expected to cancel the parking charge notice when the motorist appeals.
In situations where a major keying error has occurred, for example the motorist entered an entirely different registration, the parking operator is not expected to have identified this before issuing a parking charge notice. But it is expected that such errors are dealt with appropriately at the first appeal stage, especially if it can be proven that the motorist has paid for the parking event, that the motorist attempted to enter their vehicle registration mark, or they were a legitimate user of the car park (e.g. a customer).
The Code of Practice recognises that an operator will have incurred charges in issuing a parking charge notice if a motorist has made a major keying error, and permits that they can they seek to recover these by way of applying a modest charge of no more that £20 to the motorist.
In this instance, the motorist had provided evidence of their store receipt to the operator to show they were a customer and therefore a legitimate user of the car park. The parking operator evidence showed that they searched for the motorist’s vehicle registration but did not show that any attempt to identify if there had been a keying error.
As the motorist demonstrated they were a legitimate user of the car park who claimed to have interacted with the keypad, we would have expected the operator to establish whether this was a minor keying error, in which case they should have cancelled the parking charge; or a major keying error, in which case they should have reduced the amount to a maximum of £20. The operator did neither.
POPLA allowed the appeal and required the parking operator to cancel the parking charge notice because it was evident that the parking operator had failed to follow the keying error expectations in the British Parking Association Code of Practice.