The errors appear to have occurred for tickets purchased on the machine near Costa Coffee.
This is not an isolated incident. The Peel Centre in particular and Excel in general appear to be one of the worst run car park operators in the country, if the number of complaints to The Prankster are anything to go by. The Prankster has helped a large number of motorists taken to court by Excel even though they purchased valid tickets.
The ticket machines on site are supplied by Metric Parking. These machines have a number of known flaws, any one of which could have caused this error
a. It has been identified that Metric machines have a flaw where if a motorist pays but the machine failed to issue the ticket due to a fault, or thought it had failed to issue a ticket (even if it had) the machine would not refund the amount paid and would remove the transaction from the local store. Thus, the motorist thinks they have paid, but the operator does not.
b. It has been identified that Metric machines have a flaw which occurs if there is a communication fault when the machine tries to send data back to the central office. In this case the machine sometimes overwrites all or part of the data. This means it is never sent back to the operator, who therefore record one or more motorists as not having paid.
c. In the case of Excel Parking v Hetherington-Jakeson it was identified (para 10) that Excel’s system suffers from a flaw known as ‘drop out’ which causes them to incorrectly issue charges
d. It has been identified that Metric machines will occasionally record a bogus registration, such as QQ, or even a totally blank registration, regardless of the registration actually entered
e. It had been identified that the Metric clocks are not synchronised with the ANPR system clocks. If an error occurs with the clock on the ticket machine then even if a valid ticket is purchased, because of the time mismatch the system will not recognise this.
f. It has been identified that if a previous motorist gave up while purchasing a ticket, their registration may remain in the system and corrupt any new registration entered.
g. In addition to these known flaws with Metric Parking machines there may also be unknown flaws in Metric Parking’s machines which cause parking charges to be issued in error.
h. In addition Excel's in-house software could have any number of software flaws which cause parking charges to be issued in error.
The Prankster suspects that the cause of the current problems is (e). The Prankster suspects that the clock in the machine by Costa Coffee went skew-whiff on 14 May so that tickets purchased from that machine registered for a different date/time. When Excel checked their ANPR data they found no tickets purchased by vehicles on 14-15 May and so issued charges.
This previous blog shows the problem. A motorist recently purchased a ticket. The ticket was dated 1998, even though Excel only started managing the car park in 2012.
Here is another blog about a court case Excel lost when their machines printed the VRN incorrectly. The judge ruled it was Excel's responsibility to make sure their machines worked.
Any Excel employees who have more detail on fault in Excel's ticket machines are welcome to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to clarify the situation.
The Parking Prankster