Scammed Dunedin couple's battle over car park fine

Photo: RNZ / Calvin Samuel / File image
Photo: RNZ / Calvin Samuel / File image
A Dunedin couple say it is unfair how hard they have had to fight to overturn a parking breach after being scammed in Queenstown.

Gerard Casey and his wife, Janet, were out for a friend's birthday early last month and, after arriving back late, discovered their Frankton hotel car park was full.

Hotel staff told them earlier in the day they could use a Wilson Parking space for a $10 fee.

But when they attempted to download the ParkMate app to pay, they fell victim to a scam that tried to access their credit card and withdraw US$45 three times, forcing their bank to intervene and cancel their card.

Gerard said they were unable to pay using a different method and the hotel reception was closed, leaving them distressed and feeling helpless.

The next morning, the couple discovered they had been hit with an additional $85 breach notice.

They appealed to Wilson Parking, using multiple screenshots from their bank to show the fraudulent attempts.

"We were willing to pay the $10," Gerard Casey said.

"We said that right at the start.

"What we objected to was being fined $85 and the fact that they refused to take evidence from us and that we were fair and reasonable and weren't trying to get out of any payment."

On March 18, Wilson Parking declined their request, saying based on the evidence and circumstances: "There do not appear to be any other factors that might make the enforcement of the breach notice unreasonable in this instance".

They appealed the fine again, only to be declined again on April 9 and given a similar response, claiming their circumstances did not "constitute sufficient reasons".

So Gerard resorted to posting about it on LinkedIn. It was unreasonable to be penalised when they had tried to do the right thing and he wanted to alert others to the fraudulent ParkMate app copycats.

It did not take long for Wilson Parking to contact Gerard and put him in touch with ParkMate which asked for the fee to be waived within 11 hours of receiving their email.

Wilson Parking confirmed the notice was waived.

A spokesperson apologised for the inconvenience, saying they sympathised with the frustration caused by the unfortunate circumstances.

"We would like to clarify our stance on the matter of fraudulent activity and breach notices," Wilson Parking said.

"While fraudulent activity is indeed a valid reason for waiving a breach notice, we must also ensure that such claims are thoroughly vetted to prevent misuse of this reason.

"With the unfortunate increase in fraudulent activity, we have seen instances where this excuse is used by some individuals to evade legitimate parking fees.

"However, in Mr Casey's case, upon further examination, it is evident that his situation warranted consideration for waiver.

"We appreciate Mr Casey's patience throughout this process and commend his commitment to upholding fairness and justice.

"We remain committed to providing efficient and fair resolution processes for all our customers."