Saturday, 11 May 2013

Smart Parking telling porkies about the POPLA process

Parking operators don't like you using POPLA, the independent appeals body. It's hardly surprising when you consider that operators routinely turn down practically all appeals, while currently POPLA uphold over 60% of them. They therefore try all kinds of dirty tricks to stop you using POPLA. In this post we look at the latest sneaky trick used by Smart Parking to try and convince the motorist it's not worth using the independent POPLA appeals service.

The Parking Prankster has been forwarded several letters from motorists who have had their appeals turned down by Smart Parking. They all contain the following text:

If you wish to appeal to POPLA the details are below but please be aware that POPLA cannot accept appeals in mitigation or appeals that differ from what the operator (Smart Parking Ltd) have originally received.

Now, the 'appeals in mitigation' bit is probably correct. The Prankster has never seen a POPLA appeal upheld over mitigating circumstances.

However, the bit in bold is a definite porkie pie; POPLA will accept appeals on any grounds. This is only fair after all. Once you start to research the subject all manner of reasons why the parking charge may not be valid start cropping up, reasons the parking industry would prefer remain hidden. Just because it took a bit of time and digging to uncover these reasons is not a valid reason for them to be barred from an appeal.

What to do if you also got one of these letters from Smart Parking

If you got one of these letters from Smart Parking turning down your initial appeal and therefore decided not to appeal to POPLA, all is not lost - however long ago this was, right back to 1 October 2012 when POPLA started. It doesn't even matter if you have paid Smart Parking. You can re-activate your case and if you win Smart Parking are required to give you a full refund!

Normally, POPLA only accept appeals within 28 days of the operator refusing your appeal. However, if there are special circumstances they will accept late appeals. It's definitely a special circumstance if the operator deliberately misleads you with regard to the reasons you are allowed to appeal!

Include text something like this at the beginning of your appeal to let POPLA know why they should consider you past the 28 days.

I am appealing after the 28 days because the operator deliberately misled me as to the grounds on which I am allowed to appeal. The operator contained the following text in their description of the POPLA service:
"POPLA cannot accept [...] appeals that differ from what the operator (Smart Parking Ltd) have originally received."
This caused me to believe I could not appeal. I have now found this is incorrect, and wish therefore to use the POPLA appeal service.
Of course, it is only sensible to do this if you do include new reasons in your POPLA appeal. Some great resources to help here are pepipoo moneysavingexpert and parking cowboys

If POPLA refuse to reopen your case you can complain to their overseers, London Councils.

What you can also do?

If you feel strongly that Smart Parking are playing dirty tricks you can complain to the British Parking Association Limited about their conduct. The BPA Ltd welcome complaints showing the dirty tricks their members use. After all, it is only by concerned motorists bringing these sneaky methods to their attention, that the BPA Ltd will ever find out how naughty their members actually are. The BPA Ltd use these complaints to impose sanctions against offenders, including banning them from DVLA access which effectively cuts their revenue stream to almost zero.
The operator has deliberately misled me on the reasons as to why I could appeal to POPLA by using the following text in their letter to me.
"POPLA cannot accept [...] appeals that differ from what the operator (Smart Parking Ltd) have originally received."
This caused me to believe I could not appeal. I have since found this is incorrect and wish therefore to bring this sharp practice to your attention.

Your parking charge notice from Smart Parking will also have contained the following text:
If you believe that your data, provided to us by the DVLA, has been used inappropriately you may address your concerns formally to the Information Commissioners Office or DVLA directly.

Now, you may certainly beleive that it has been used inappropriately if the operator is using sneaky tricks to try and squeeze money out of you. If you think this is correct, the addresses to complain to are:
Customer Services Manager, DVLA, Swansea, SA7 OEE
There  isn't currently a portal where you can complain online, but you can try emailing Hugh Evans their Corporate Director at

The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF
The online address to use is

These people welcome complaints; after all, it is only by receiving large numbers of complaints that they become aware of the scale of the problem.

Happy Parking,

The Parking Prankster

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