Lifestyle

I got 11 parking fines after a mix-up over Zipcar rules


I started using the London-based car-sharing scheme Zipcar at the beginning of lockdown in March as a way to commute safely, and, initially, rated it highly to friends. Its Flex plan lets you pick up and drop off cars in allocated zones at the end of the trip. I noticed I was being charged for trips that were 12-14 hours long as the application’s “end trip” button didn’t register when I attempted to use it, unbeknown to me. After I got in touch, Zipcar was able to adjust the trips fairly easily.

Fast forward to November and I started receiving parking violation notices from three months previously – tickets related to the trips that did not end correctly. Eleven were sent, each amounting to £130 plus the £15 service charge (for each ticket), totalling more than £1,600.

I tried to get this resolved by adjusting the trips as I had before, but was pushed around to various departments. Finally, I got an email telling me that on its website it states where we are allowed to park in various areas of London. It sent me the section of the contract and explained this was final.

DC, London SW8

Zipcar says its Flex service aims to provide a cheap and convenient way for consumers – charged by the minute – to use cars in the capital. It insisted that different parking rules in London boroughs are made clear to users both through the app and its help centre – with links to the various council websites – and that it does not state that members can park anywhere they like.

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However, we think the information online is a little confusing. When selecting “Flex cars” in the app, users are told that the zone where they can collect or drop off a car is highlighted in blue, with any restricted parking areas outlined in red. But it admits that not all restricted areas are outlined in red, so the system does rely on scrupulous checking.

Zipcar looked at your account and insisted you were at fault for the violations which triggered the fines. You were fined eight times for driving in a bus lane, and 13 times for parking in a loading bay/street while restrictions were in force.

It said it had spoken to you several times and tried to explain that you were violating traffic and parking rules, but that you had disregarded the warnings and continued to run up further fines.

Zipcar said: “All Zipcar members must abide by the rules of the road, as they would in their own vehicle. We make it clear on our website, and in our terms of use, that members are required to obey traffic and parking rules as they will be liable for any violations they incur during or as a result of their trip. In this customer’s case, the charges were correctly attributed, as this member has repeatedly broken the rules.”

The total you owe has now risen to £1,740. Since our intervention, Zipcar has agreed a payment plan to allow you to spread out the payments.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions

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