Monday, 20 May 2013

POPLA backdoor appeal process exposed in AOS minutes

One would expect as a motorist that once your case has been upheld by the independent adjudication service POPLA, that that would be the end of the matter. Not so. The Parking Companies have a hotline to the adjudicator which they can use to reopen the case if they so desire.

The January 2013 minutes of the AOS Board, made available through an FOI request, show this. In cases where the Parking Company is not happy with the result, "the matter should be referred back to the Adjudicator, who can re-open the case if necessary."

The minutes do not detail all the situations where the Parking Company can re-open cases, but it does include the situation where the Parking Company cannot get its act together and send off the evidence in time, resulting in the Adjudicator inconveniently and efficiently upholding the appeal.

This backdoor process is not available to the general motoring public.The POPLA web site states:

"If you made a formal complaint about specific alleged misconduct by an Assessor, it would be investigated by the Lead Adjudicator. However, this is not the same as merely disagreeing with the Assessor’s decision."
...implying by omission that cases cannot be reopened. In any case, there are no contact details or other instructions on the web site, which makes it rather hard to actually submit a complaint.

The Parking Prankster tried his hardest to guess how to make a complaint, and sent one off last week. So far there has been no reply. Perhaps the person who deals with complaints is one of those who only "currently work 1 day per week", as mentioned in the minutes.

The Parking Prankster's guide for getting your case reopened is therefore as follows:
  1. Make an FOI request to the DVLA for the AOS board Jan 2013 minutes to realise you can actually do this
  2. Use divine inspiration to find how to contact POPLA to ask to re-open your case
  3. Wait for the right day of the week...
If you didn't guess how to do all this, then tough cheese.

To be fair to the AOS, some members were a bit concerned that using this backdoor method to reopen cases would be seen by the public as "damaging POPLA's credibility" and bad for "the reputation of POPLA". However, other member's apparently thought otherwise, as no actual decision not to routinely backdoor POPLA was made.

In any case, the POPLA representative made clear these issues could be tidied up secretly during POPLA's "weekly conference call." What a pity the motorist does not have the same opportunity. Is it any wonder that the meeting feared for "POPLA's credibility".

What happens if even the adjudicator turns down the Parking Company? According to the BPA Ltd code of practice, that should be it.

22.17 If POPLA decides that you have failed to demonstrate that a parking charge should be upheld, in whole or in part, you must follow its decision.

But not so the members of the AOS, who think the very act of appealing to POPLA means you are "admitting [you] were the driver", and not some other party such as the Registered Keeper. If the Parking Company doesn't like the decision of POPLA, the person making the appeal can then be "pursued under contract law."

Well, all pretty interesting stuff, and there are plenty more gems in the minutes for October and January. The Prankster thinks he might make one or two more blog posts in the coming days, and looks forward to reading the April 2013 minutes too when they become available.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster.

The Prankster would like to thank Angus Gill for making the FOI request, and TRX75 in this thread on pepipoo for making him aware of the minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear "on occasions operators fall foul of legislation through no fault fo their own.." and evidently want some leniency if this is the case.

    On occasions motorists fall foul of parking legislation through no fault of their own" and get relentlessly opursued for a large sum of money.

    A level car park?