Saturday, March 08, 2008

How unfair is this?

Life is full of injustice, big injustices and little injustices. This is a little one, but still.

Local councils in Sydney (and almost certainly Melbourne as well) can fine you for over-staying in a parking spot -- even if you move your car to not just another spot, but another street.

The State Debt Recovery Office has rejected an appeal by a Coogee woman to be excused from a $79 ticket she received when she parked in Darling Island Road, Pyrmont. The woman, a Fairfax Media employee, wrote explaining she had moved her car. At 5.30pm she had driven "around the corner" into nearby Fyfe Street, another two-hour zone. But when she emerged at 7.20pm, she found she had been booked.

This week she received a reply from Gregrory Frearson, assistant director of operations at the Debt Recovery Office, advising that her appeal to have the fine waived had been rejected.

"Based on the circumstances you describe we cannot, under our guidelines, cancel or offer leniency for this offence." he wrote. "While a vehicle may be moved to a different spot, if it remains within the overall parking sector the time limit does not recommence."

See here for more.

The reality is that parking tickets are a lottery. Even if you do absolutely everything right according to the letter of the law, if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, and get a careless or dishonest parking inspector, you will lose money. And because local councils make more money the more incompetent and dishonest their inspectors are, they have little incentive to do anything about it. I received a fine for supposedly parking in a No Standing spot, when I was actually parked in a shopping centre car park five blocks away. I did some research, and with the threat of further expenses if I contested the fine, and the likely cost of thousands of dollars in legal fees even if I won, not to mention the inconvenience and stress, I paid it.

As far as I'm concerned, Footscray local council stole eighty-odd dollars from me as surely as if one of their inspectors had picked my pocket.

1 comment:

Metro said...

I consider parking anywhere in Greater Vancouver a crapshoot. I usually am reluctant to fork over a cheap-lunch's-worth of dollars to simply make it possible for me to patronize a place of business.

My last foray came when I went to transport Mme Metro to get her teeth sharpened or some similar dentist-ery.

I got a ticket for being ten minutes late. Fair cop. Although I kind of thought that my wife being immobile in a dentists' chair should count for something.

After some hard searching, I visited the website mentioned aback the ticket. I wrote them twice.

Receiving no answer I wrote a third time, including the phrase: "If you fail to respond I shall assume you've lost interest in receiving the fine monies" or words to that effect.

Got my reply next day. It said "To help you with this, please send us the information on the ticket. Since I'd already done so, I took no action, and regarded the matter closed. However, they've just sent a letter from a collections agency.

I'm trying to get them scrapping. I'm sending them both a letter saying that the company had let me off. Which I consider to broadly describe the situation.

Wish me luck.