Thursday, 26 May 2016

Excel Parking change debt collectors yet again

Parking companies use debt collectors for several reasons. Debt Collectors, unlike Bailiffs, have no powers, so the first reason is to scare a victim into paying up. By sending letters with red writing, capitals, short deadline dates and threats of debt escalation, this often works.

Some debt collectors track down the victim's telephone number and bombard them with endless aggressive calls.

Typically the debt collection company works on a no-win, no fee basis. A £100 parking charge will be escalated to £160. If the victim pays up, the parking company gets the original £100, and the debt collector gets £60.

A second reason to use debt collectors is to artificially escalate the claim. The parking company pass the debt to a sister company, often owned by the same person as the original parking company. This lets them get round the £100 limit on parking charges by adding on whatever they want.

If the debt collector fails to collect the debt, it returns to the parking company. However, often the debt will stay at the new increased level even though the parking company has not incurred costs (being on a no win no fee basis with the debt collectors).

Different parking companies use different debt collecting companies, and change them from time to time.

Excel Parking (and their subsidiary VCS) for instance have over the last year or so gone through TNC, Wright Hassall and BW Legal. Now it looks like BW Legal have been given the old heave-ho, and Excel have switched to using DCBL. The Prankster has been contacted by a number of people receiving their letters.

DCBL are both debt collectors and bailiffs, which has worried some recipients of these letters. however, in this case they are acting as debt collectors.

Excel do take some motorists to court. The problem for any person receiving one of these letters is knowing if they are one of these or not. The Prankster therefore advises not ignoring these letters but replying to deny the debt (if you do). If you cannot cope with the letters and wish to pay the charge, then The Prankster suggests you negotiate with the parking company on a without prejudice basis to pay the original charge (or a discounted amount), rather than negotiating with the parking company.

This sometimes works and sometimes does not. In one case The Prankster helped with the motorist's relative had forgotten where they parked the car, before remembering after several days.  A number of charges had accrued in the time. The Prankster therefore helped to attempt to negotiate a fair amount based on the unpaid parking fee rather than a per-day penalty charge. Sadly the debt collecting company (Debt Recovery Plus) were too greedy and refused to drop the settlement amount. As the motorist was not liable, The Prankster eventually broke off negotiations and suggested the the debt collectors contact the driver instead - DR+ ended up with nothing.

In other cases a settlement has been reached.

The Prankster suggests writing to DCBL to limit costs in case Excel do go to court.

Dear DCBL,

In line with the Credit Services Association code of practice I require all communications from you to be by letter. You may not use phone or email.

The debt is denied. Please refer the debt back to the principal. Any further communications apart from to confirm this will be treated as harassment. Debt collection costs will therefore be wasted costs on your part.

The principal will find the following information useful. No debt exists because [put the reasons why you are disputing the debt here]

I would be prepared to use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in an attempt to settle this matter and I suggest the Consumer Ombudsman. For the avoidance of doubt, the IAS has been exposed as a kangaroo court and would not be acceptable. I also point you to the clear conflict of interest between the IAS and Gladstones Solicitors, who are owned by the same people.

Otherwise I suggest we settle the matter in court and I suggest you send a letter before claim without delay. I will ask the court to apply sanctions if you refuse ADR.

A large number of these DCBL cases appear to be airport related. In these cases no debt would exist because it is impossible to enter into a contract while driving past complicated signs at 50 mph. The driver simply doesn't have time to read the signs and therefore cannot enter into a contract.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. DCBL website

    2 items stand out

    1:Fixed price, no hidden cost recovery service

    2:We do not accept cases that we feel will not achieve positive results

    being a member of the BPA and knowing the rules in the KODOE agreement , they should know that the vcs/airport cases are based on land that is non applicable , perhaps they cannot read?

  2. Dcbl are now using Channel 5 can't pay we'll take it away on their letters, is this legal or are they now sponsored by Channel 5?

  3. DCBL BAILIFS are on a TV program , not the DEBT collection company

    small print on Page 2 of letters "this case is not subject to high court or bailiff action"

  4. So why use the Ch5 logo and tag-line on the letter if this is not bailiff related? A cynic would say it's to scare the recipient into paying up.

  5. Typo in second para after the letter "The Prankster suggests you negotiate with the parking company on a without prejudice basis to pay the original charge (or a discounted amount), rather than negotiating with the parking company." Should be rather than negotiating with the shar....sorry DCA.

  6. FYI I have been chased over a parking charge dated 4/5/2015, first by VCS, then DR+. All quiet until yesterday when a BW Legal letter arrived, so they are still using BW as well. I will use The Prankster's suggested letter above to respond to BW.
    Thanks to the Prankster for keeping us up to date and entertained.

  7. "The Prankster suggests you negotiate with the parking company ... rather than negotiating with the parking company."
    Is this what you meant to write?

  8. Please help I live in Portsmouth and parked in a 2 hour free car park for 20 minutes 3 months ago I got a letter saying I owed £120 fine and was told if I don't pay they will send it to there sister company 1 floor above them to retrieve the debt that was 4 weeks ago today I got a letter from there debt company saying I owe £160 otherwise court action may be taken if not paid by 07/05/2015 they have no proof how long I was there as there isn't any cameras and I asked for evidence in the phone call and was told there isn't any ? Please help

    1. go to MSE forum or pepipoo for help

      this is a blog , not a help forum

  9. I have written the letter you suggested Parking Prankster and emailed it to every member of their staff at DCBL as I didn't want them ignoring any letter I sent or not signing for it. I have been criticised by other forums for not ignoring the letters from DCBL, but this has been going for three years and I am aware that Excel Parking have taken people to court. I have not heard anything since 31 May and had given the 35 days of cancellation or providing the verification number. Hopefully that's it now... Thank you for your sensible advice, I'd rather deny the debt and put a stop to it after this length of time - at least I have some defence in writing.

  10. On the 30th of December 2016 I parked at a private parking operated by Excel Parking Services Ltd. In their board it said that I had the option to pay via text.

    The sign clearly states:
    Leave the rest to us

    I texted as indicated, provided my information (card details) over the phone to the automatic system that called me after I texted, and when I finished it hung up. I never received a text that indicated the purchase was not completed or otherwise.

    I returned to my car an hour approximately later which was within my paid time (or at least I thought I had paid) and I found a Parking charge notice on my car. The same day without delay I contacted via the appeal system and informed that I was not aware the purchase had not gone through. Basically, I followed their guide, the system failed to register my information.

    I lost the appeal on the basis that the terms and conditions are clearly stated on the signs and I breached the contract by not displaying a ticket.

    I appealed via the IAS which is their regulating appeal organisation and if not mistaken owned by the same individual that owns the parking company and although I expressed my willingness to compensate for the time I was parked at the parking as I was not aware the purchase had not gone through, they dismissed my appeal on the basis that I breached the terms and conditions and the charge is lawful.

    I showed them a screen shot of the text with the time and date, while also mentioned that their text option guide is misleading because I followed the procedure as indicated and there was no way for me to know that the purchase has not gone through unless I would check my bank statement days after I parked there.

    I have no objection to pay for the time I was parked there and I am even willing to compensate them for the stamp they used to send me the decision letter as well as the £15 that they paid to the IAS for using the appeal process. But they are asking £100 which I find totally unfair particularly because I did what they wanted me to do and their system failed, not me.

    They suggested I should have contacted the helpline but there is no such statement stated as part of the process on their board for the customers that want to use the text option for purchasing a ticket.

    I am a lawful citizen, I have no points taken from my driving licence and no criminal record and this company is trying to profit from me.

    I understand that £100 might not seem like an important amount, but it is the unfairness that drives me to ask for your help.

    On top of that i am not sure of the amount they might come up if we go to court.

  11. In October last year I received a PCN from excel parking. Basically I received this because the reg number was not entered correctly but the correct amount was paid. I have appealed twice but my appeals have been rejected. I'm now receiving letters from BW legal threatening County Court action. I feel this is grossly unfair as they can see I paid the fee. I recognise that signs were up (be it in small writing and very long paragraphs) saying reg number to be input correctly but surely the common good should prevail? They say I have 17 days before they start legal proceedings. Should I pay up ? Or take them on if they take me to court ?

  12. Let them go to court i did and won

  13. 17 months of hell i suffered because of excel parking i went to court and ecxel didnt have a leg to stand on this company needs exposing for the criminals they are