Knowing whether enforcement or fees are unjustified, unreasonable or unauthorised is not always simple. If you feel your vehicle was clamped, towed, or ticketed without good reason, you may need to present your own case for why you deserve a partial or full refund, or in some cases, compensation.
Unjustified: Ticketing, towing or clamping could be unjustified if your parking did not break any laws (e.g. trespass) or contract terms. For contract terms to be binding, the terms and what happens if you break them must be set out sufficiently clearly and visibly on signage.
Unreasonable: If you have trespassed, fees could be unreasonable if they exceed the cost to the landowner, tenant and the parking enforcer. These costs include towing and storing your vehicle, and any loss of income caused by your parking, eg if you park in a space reserved for customers only or block access to or from a business. Fees set out on signage for breach of parking conditions must not be disproportionate to the interests of the land owner or tenant. Clamping costs have been capped at $100 and any amount over this will be seen as unreasonable.
Unauthorised: Enforcement could be unauthorised if the person who arranged for your vehicle to be clamped or towed is not the owner of the land, the owner of the business, or an employee of either.
To question or appeal a fee
Sometimes you need to pay to have your vehicle released from clamping or towing — even if you think you parked lawfully. If you think a parking ticket or release fee is unjustified, unreasonable or unauthorised, steps you can take include:
- Contact the landowner, tenant or parking enforcement business. For private parking tickets, information about how to make a complaint or challenge the fee may be on the back of the ticket.
- You can try to negotiate for a reduced fee or partial refund if you think the fee paid was unreasonable.
- You can request a refund of any infringement fee if you use a parking facility but there are no clear signs about towing or clamping.
Tips when complaining
If you can't reach an agreement with the person that ticketed, clamped or towed your vehicle, and you think the enforcement was unjustified, unauthorised or the fee was unreasonable, you can:
- Make a claim to the Disputes Tribunal — they can make a ruling, which must be followed. If in your favour, this might be refunding part or all of the fine.
- Report the company to the Commerce Commission — this will not solve your particular issue, but may lead to the company being warned or fined.
How to make a claim(external link) — Disputes Tribunal
Make a complaint(external link) — Commerce Commission
Get support at any point from:
- Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) — a free, independent service, run by volunteers. CAB can advise you on your consumer rights and obligations, in person, by phone, or online.
- Community Law Centre — offers free one-on-one legal advice to people with limited finances. The organisation has 24 community law centres throughout the country. You can find legal information and other resources on its website.
Find a CAB(external link) — Citizens Advice Bureau
Our law centres(external link) — Community Law Centres