Most people freak out and pay up when they get a letter from a lawyer, whether it’s legitimate or not... That’s just what the people behind these operations are counting on.
- Johnny Smithson
Johnny Smithson has become
something of a consumer
champion when it comes to dealing
with potentially bogus parking fines.
He became involved after a friend
received a demand for payment and
Smithson’s efforts to clear it up hit
a brick wall, not least because the
company didn’t even have a phone
Since then he has
established a website and says he’s
fielded numerous emails from
consumers who have received
threatening collection letters.
Smithson’s investigation has led
him to believe that some private car
park operations are now focusing
more on debt collection than
parking fees and teaming up with
opportunistic lawyers in order to
scare consumers into paying fines
that may be illegitimate but which
they’ll pay to avoid going to court.
“Most people freak out and pay up
when they get a letter from a lawyer,
whether it’s legitimate or not,” he
says. “That’s just what the people
behind these operations are
A tangled web
Are car parks, collection agencies
and lawyers in on it together?
CHOICE has confirmed that the phone
number on an October 2011 letter
from Michael Roper to a motorist
currently leads to Australian Recovery
and Collections (ARC). We were told by
ARC that we “must be looking at an old
notice” and were given Roper’s current
phone number. We also obtained ASIC
documents showing that ANCP and
ARC currently have the same
registered business address.
The documents also show that
ANCP’s two company directors,
Paul Gyles and Victor Nudler, were
directors of ARC from its foundation
in February 2011 to July 2011 and that
Gyles Holdings and Nudler Holdings
still own 70% of ARC’s shares. ANCP
and Roper did not return our calls.
Russell De Leon has felt the full brunt of the private car park ticketing
regime. He told CHOICE that the loading dock for his business is next
to a Care Park in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta.
“I frequently use my car to load items or deliver items for work, however I
still managed to get fined for leaving my car in an area supposedly owned and
operated by Care Park,” he says. “I recently received an envelope containing
backdated fines since 2010 to the tune of $1584.
Having contacted Care Park
multiple times to organise an arrangement, I’ve been repeatedly told that
their operators are busy and they’ll return my call. I’ve had no return calls
for weeks now but have been sent statements demanding immediate
payment or legal action will be taken.”