The Prankster has been contacted by a ParkingEye employee who felt it necessary to speak out because they felt that the company was run by some of the greediest people they had the misfortune to meet, and some of the practices just screamed abuse.
Sadly ParkingEye are typical of the parking industry. and this behavior is duplicated in many (but not all) parking companies.
ParkingEye's early success was due to its gung ho approach. Contracts while making business sense only sought to delay proceedings so the tactic was to bang the kit in and deal with the ramifications later on. This caused problems later on with POPLA and the courts, because there was no paperwork to back up the claim to be able to operate. This was overcome by the successful approach of persuading POPLA to accept witness statements instead of contracts, this allowing POPLA to be deceived. The courts proved just as easy, with judges persuaded to accept a contract must be in place even when it was not. A number of freedom of information requests showed how the courts were deceived to believe a contract was in place when it was not.
Some installations were expected to cause trouble simply because of the client's expectations. These were known as the "rape and pillage" installations. Bang them in, make as much money from the first several weeks to cover costs, and if problems occured, try and win the client around. If that didn't work just pull it out and/or sue the client for breach of contract.
ParkingEye focus on what they call the top 100 sites. These generate the lion's share of ParkingEye's revenue. Some of the top earners include:
Ilford Retail Park
Borehamwood Retail Park
Riverside Retail Park
Burton NHS Trust
South Tyneside Hospital
Tower Road Newquay (summer)
Watergate Bay Newquay (summer)
Welcome Break Gordano
Welcome Break Fleet
Welcome Break South Mimms
Morrisons King Street
St Peters Retail Park
Radisson Blu Stanstead.
Leisure World Southampton
Priory Shopping Centre
As you can see, a significant number of these are hospitals. The top 100 has seasonal variations. Some sites like the NHS request full switch off during Christmas and New Year. ParkingEye always try to discourage that kind of behaviour because it makes the beancounters cry. NHS are a major cash cow but ParkingEye are scared to lose them so bend the contractual obligations and call it "goodwill".
Sites would usually sit in two camps
1: Earn well then tail of as people become wise to rules etc. Although the BPA require special signage when a new site goes live ParkingEye never do this because it would hurt the "rape and pillage" revenue
2: Seasonal, typically making money in the summer season, with low PCN rates through the winter
ParkingEye had a clever system which could boost revenue for a particular financial period if required.There were some delays built into the central business system which allowed for sense checking the PCNs. This allowed for problems to be spotted (for example if a site generated an unfeasibly large amount of cases, chances are it was a technical problem) and could be rectified before incurring costs of DVLA enquiries and postage.
However at critical points in the financial year, this time buffer was removed. So let's say the fiscal year end is 31st Dec. Under normal running all data submitted and checked by the 30th would not be sent until the 1st January. Under improve revenue mode, everything submitted and checked by the 30th would be sent on the 31st, with no sense check delay.
What this meant was the time available to sense check and cancel pcns disappeared. So PCNs could be generated on a car park that had a technical issue which normally would have been wiped. The infamous 19 step checking would still take place, so technical issues aside, the PCNs seemed sound enough.
Another way to boost revenue was to alter the grace period. This favourite tactic was called rewashing.cases. Now because the BPA mandate that every car park should have a
reasonable time to enter, review terms and leave as standard ParkingEye allows 10 mins on every site. So whatever the signage allows you would get a further 10 minutes on top.
Some sites would for management purposes have this period set to a longer period, say 30 minutes. This was typical if ParkingEye expected a lot of flack from the motorists/clients.
So you'd visit a site and stay say 2hr 25. You know you're over..and hope that you don't get a PCN. Well guess what you wouldn't. That was until the amount of PCNs wasn't shaping up to what was budgeted. So what would happen is an instruction would go to the ops team to drop the extra 30 minutes down to say 15 but (and here's the kicker) rerun all visits for the previous two weeks against the new times and issue the PCNs.
So you could visit on the 1st of the month, stay 2hr 25 and not get a PCN. Then on the 15th ParkingEye would decide to re-review your visit against a a new maximum time limit of
2hr 15. Guess what's now coming your way.
One thing to note that may be of interest to motorists is that in the majority of sites, there is no planning permission. ParkingEye operate a model of retrospective planning. So get the go ahead from the client, bang the system in and then if there was any noise file a retrospective planning order.
The point was to save on costs. And it worked.
The Prankster has no reason to doubt any of the information freely given, as it ties up with other information he has.
ParkingEye operate at hospitals in defiance of government guidelines which stipulate pay on exit methods should be used, and contracts should not be let on any basis that incentivises additional charges. ParkingEye run a 'guess on exit' scheme where motorists have to guess the duration of their stay with no help from ParkingEye. This has proved very successful for them as many motorists guess wrongly. At Northumbria NHS, for instance, ParkingEye were generating PCNs at the rate of £1,000,000 a year.
It is possible to run a fair car park regime at hospitals. Total Parking Solutions manage the Marlborough Street car park for Bristol Eye Hospital and FoI requests show minimal PCNs were issued at this site, and none for overstays. This is because this is a true pay on exit scheme. When the motorist leaves they are informed of the correct amount to pay. Unsurprisingly, every single motorist pays the correct amount when given the right information.
It is clear that ParkingEye's "rape and pillage" approach to car park management is unfair to the motorist and particularly unfair at hospitals where the people targeted will be the sick, the elderly and the vulnerable members of society. These are the people who can least afford the astronomic £100 charges which ParkingEye entrap people into incurring.
The Parking Prankster