Reader’s Query: My 79-year-old husband bought a ticket. So why was he clamped?

PriceWatch: According to NCPS there’s a right and a wrong way to write a zero

Mind-boggling: entering C3 instead of CE at Stillorgan Luas stop earned William an €80 fine. Photograph: iStock

Mind-boggling: entering C3 instead of CE at Stillorgan Luas stop earned William an €80 fine. Photograph: iStock

 

A reader, Nance, contacted us after her husband, William, had his car clamped at the Luas park and ride in Stillorgan, in south Co Dublin, by our friends at Nationwide Controlled Parking Systems. “He returned within the allowed time and was shocked to find his car clamped,” Nance’s email starts.

William got in touch with NCPS immediately, telling its clamping office that he had paid for his parking and got back before it ran out – parking costs €2 for four hours or €4 for the day, and you pay on the platform, before getting on the Luas, by entering your car’s licence plate. He “was told the reason for the clamping was an error in his car registration number. He had entered C3 instead of CE,” Nance explains. The 2008 car has a Co Clare plate.

NCPS said it would release the car without charge, but when the clamper arrived he refused to do so and phoned the office to say there was a further error

“The guy he spoke to said he would release the car without charge, but when the clamper arrived he refused to do so and phoned the office to say there was a further error, which was that the nought was not a correct nought!”

Apparently there is a right and a wrong way to write a zero. Who knew? Certainly not poor William, who was to be fined for writing 08 incorrectly, a development he described as mind boggling.

“My husband is 79 years old and is surviving very well with modern technology, but naturally, when you are entering numbers in these machines and your sight isn’t what it used to be, it is very easy to make a mistake,” Nance says.

The bottom line was that William had no choice but to pay the €80 fine to get his car back. “It was a most distressing incident, and I doubt if he will be using that parking again,” Nance writes. “Prior to this you only had to enter your parking-space number, which was much simpler.”

NCPS says: “There is an appeal system which could have been availed of in this case. If an appeal had been lodged there would have been an automatic refund . . . If a mistake is made a second time with the same vehicle, and an appeal is made, there is a refund with a €30 administration fee deducted. If it happens a third time there is a 50 per cent refund. If it happens a fourth time there is no refund.”

That is all pretty clear, but could more be done to help this couple? We contacted NCPS again, after which it granted the couple their appeal.

“I am happy to report to you that NCPS have been in touch,” Nance writes back. “They were very apologetic.”