James Murphy, 37, tried to park in the Floats Road car park in Wythenshawe, Manchester, to attend a crucial appointment at the adjacent hospital. The driver parked his car and attempted to pay three separate ways – through contactless, by phone, and through an app – each of which failed, and has since been fined £70 for the 11 minutes he spent there.
James, who has Crohn’s disease, said: “I’m astonished that they think they can get away with it.
“I think this is predatory behaviour and they’re expecting me to just pay up, which isn’t going to happen. I will be fighting it in court if I have to fight it in court. I’ll basically embarrass them because I think it’s absolutely disgraceful.
“I’ve recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and I had to go to this appointment, it was an important one to deal with the disease. There’s a number of car parks at Wythenshawe Hospital, but they’re often very busy and there’s quite a lot of people vying for space.”
James went into “panic mode” when he struggled to pay, Manchester Evening News reports, and had to inform the hospital he was running late.
He eventually left the car park to find somewhere else to leave his vehicle.
“I called them (the car park management) up, I gave them all the details, all the details appeared to be fine, and then it came through to payment. It was taking quite a while. I thought that everything had gone okay but then it said there was a problem,” James, from Bury, Greater Manchester, said.
“I had now been there for five or six minutes. I installed the app, I had to sign up and register and then put in payment details, and then by that time it had also failed on the app.
“I just thought ‘oh I’ve not got time for this I’m going to leave’, so that was after about 11 minutes, I left and went round the corner.
“I thought to myself, ‘there’s no chance I’ll be charged for this’.”
But when James did receive the penalty two weeks later, he contacted Vehicle Control Services to dispute it.
He said: “I basically said to them, I will not be paying the fine, if you want to take me to court you’re welcome to do that. I didn’t even use their services, effectively.”
The man then received a second letter telling him his appeal had failed. It read: “The signs at the car park make it clear that a valid ticket must be purchased for all vehicles which park/enter the car park.”
The letter says James can appeal the charge further. But if this is rejected, his fine will then increase to £100.
James wants to fight the charge not just for himself, but also for other vulnerable hospital users who may be faced with similar fines.
He added: “If I were vulnerable I would probably stress to hell and it could cause further health problems, especially if someone has got a condition, so I think it is disgusting behaviour. It’s shocking.”
“It’s not just for me, it’s the principle, they’ll do it to someone else, and I’m furious. Especially now, during the cost of living crisis, £60 is a lifesaver for some people, so it’s disgusting that they even think they can try it.”
But he was keen to praise Wythenshawe hospital, saying their treatment is “exceptional”.
A representative for Vehicle Control Services Ltd said: “The Floats Road Car Park in Wythenshawe is operated by Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras. Our signs on site clearly advise ‘after a vehicle has entered the car park a maximum of 10 minutes is allowed to purchase a valid ticket or make payment’.
“Having reviewed Mr Murphy’s Connect Cashless account we have been able to confirm that it was his bank who had declined the transaction, most likely due to the new 3D Secure transaction requirements (an additional security protocol) introduced by banks around that time.
“Had Mr Murphy rang our helpline number, as advertised on our signs, at the time he had difficulties the result could have been different. It is not unreasonable for Mr Murphy to have considered bringing cash with him knowing he had a pre-planned appointment at a hospital and would need to make use of the chargeable car parks in close proximity. This incident may serve to highlight to readers (motorists) the importance of contacting an operators helpline where they experience issues in purchasing the parking tariff.”