Parking at the BPA – a cautionary tale

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
and a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got’ till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi

 

I’d like to begin by making it clear that what follows is in no way meant as a criticism of Coventry Rugby.

Not at all.

UKPS on the other hand…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

It is with deep embarrassment and a huge sense of shame that I find myself publicly admitting to being served with a PCN.

Apparently for parking:

‘in a manner whereby the driver became liable for a parking charge at Coventry Rugby Club’.

It’s left me a broken man.

Confidence shattered. Reputation in tatters. Lear-esque.

A man more sinned against than sinning.

For the uninitiated, a PCN is a Parking Charge Notice and this particular one (my first ever!) popped through the letterbox last Monday (14th of October), 10 days after the Notice was served.

The Notice goes on to give a little more detail:

The reason we issued the PCN to the vehicle is as follows:

Failure To Pay For Parking

The letter accompanying the PCN indicated I had 14 days to pay the ‘discounted charge’ of £60, after which time it would increase to a hefty £100.

Red rag to a bull…

….especially as I had paid and clearly displayed.

Honestly.

It really wasn’t a fair cop.

Now as luck would have it, I still had the ticket for that day in the car –  for no other reason than I hadn’t got round to emptying the door pocket/well/thingy which is where I usually place any used tickets, Double Decker wrappers, empty Pepsi Max cans and used scratch cards, prior to the car’s annual clean.

The ticket shows the date it was bought (4/10), the time is was bough (1.02 pm), the time it was valid until (11.59 pm) and the amount paid (£4), as well as the car registration number.

Those of you who have a memory for dates will know that the 4th October was a Friday, the day we played Ealing, an evening game as it happens.

I bought the ticket at lunchtime. 1.02 pm to be precise.

Any one who knows me will be aware that I do like to get to the ground early and put in a few laps of the pitch, especially with Sam  – if he’s not getting married, honeymooning abroad, partying or visiting mates that is. These days he’s become a bit of a part-timer down at the BPA.

But arriving at 1.00 pm for a 7.30 pm kick off is excessively early even by my standards.

No, I had popped into Cov to get a few things and then meet with friends for a quickcatch up, expecting to head home and return later for the game. As it was, it all took longer than I’d anticipated so I’d decided to stay in Cov, get a bite to eat at a local hostelry and then get to the ground for just after 6.00 pm.

Realising I might not make it back home, I’d had the sense when I’d first arrived to pay the parking to cover the game should I not manage get home in between.

So I paid the £4.

In fairness, I knew I was on dodgy ground as on Match Days and for Events parking increases to £5. But, in my defence m’lud, I did my best to pay the required amount.

I’ll try and explain.

I genuinely did attempt to pay the match day fee of £5 but the machine would only accept £4, even when I tried to pay the additional £1. The slot where the money is placed just closed automatically so no more coins could be added.

Which begs the question, on a Friday  and if it’s a match day, if you use the Cov car park between say 9.00 am and 2.00 pm, do you still have to pay the £5 given the match is in the evening?

I was aware that it was a match day, had come prepared to pay the £5 but the machine would only accept 4 one pound coins.

Even better, the ticket machine issued me with a  £4 ticket valid until 11.59 pm, covering me for the evening game even though it should have cost me £5.

I’m guessing I might have confused everyone by now.

What this sees to suggest is that the machines aren’t programmed during the week to differentiate between match days and non-match days – I guess the programming only sees a Saturday as a potential match day?

All Saturdays? Or just Saturdays when there is a game…?

And if you don’t follow Cov and only park during the daytime, how would you know, for example, that Friday was actually a match day?

So there were three potential problems with the integrity of PCN I’d been served.

  1. I’d paid when the notice stated I hadn’t;
  2.  I’d paid a £1 less than I should have but the machine hadn’t let me pay any more than £4;
  3.  Anyone using the Cov carpark who doesn’t follow Cov Rugby wouldn’t have known there was a game on if they hadn’t bothered to read the billboard as they drove in and if you’re not interested in rugby, why would you? There was no notice within 20m of the Pay and Display machines to let you know that there was indeed a game on that day.

Yet I still received a £60 fine.

I immediately decided to contest it, writing to UKPS explaining simply that I’d paid, the ticket had been displayed and enclosing a photo of the said ticket (I kept hold of the original just in case I need it to appeal against UKPS’ decision). I pointed out that it clearly shows it was valid until 11.59 that evening. I didn’t mention anything about points 2 and 3; I was  keeping as much as my powder dry as possible should it be required later.

I sent the letter by recorded delivery, just to make the point, stating I would appeal if UKPS wouldn’t accept I had paid.

I received a letter from them today, brief and to the point…

DSC04678-361746030-1571761255208.jpg

I’m not sure how they work out the PCN was correctly issued…

I knew I’d get caught out by the additional pound on a match day and would have been happy to argue the case about no signage anywhere near the ticket machine to say it was a match day and that the machine wouldn’t accept the additional £1. Plus, the ticket clearly states it was valid for the duration of the game, even if I should have paid the full £5.

Still…

No fine to pay.

I’d call that a result.

I did get my hand metaphorically slapped with that final sentence though:

…please in future always comply with the terms and conditions when parking on Private (sic) land as other operators may not be as sympathetic.

I have to say, serving me with a sixty quid fine in the first place is hardly sympathetic given I’d paid and displayed.

And yes, it would have been nice to have had an explanation as to why the Notice was served given a ticket was purchased and displayed – or even, heaven forbid, just a sentence to say sorry we cocked it up.

I guess I was just unlucky, but it is a cautionary tale and should anyone have the misfortune of receiving a similar Notice, it might be worth checking to see if any of the errors in the serving of my Notice are pertinent.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
and a swinging hot spot

Paradise has been paved and part of it turned into a pay and display carpark.

And who’s to say Phase 2 of the of the Butts Park Arena development won’t involve the building of a pink hotel and a swinging hot spot?

Could well bring the punters in, that.

And as for the new Pay and Display system, well that seems like a sensible move, too. A good income stream for the club and one that shouldn’t impact at all on Cov supporter who have always paid for their parking at the BPA.

Provided, of course, that those overseeing the running of it share the same regard for those using it as Coventry Rugby does.

 

 

 

Author: Tim

15 thoughts on “Parking at the BPA – a cautionary tale

  1. Russ, it’s comments like yours that make the arthritic thumbs and fingers worthwhile! Thanks for your support! National One remains the most enjoyable rugby I’ve watched for many a year…I miss it in many ways, despite all that is happening at Cov at the moment. Or maybe because of…

  2. Ah, I’m a grumpy bugger at the best of times Tim, but it does feel like a different vibe these days.

    I loved the simplicity of the last few seasons and I remain to be convinced that the numbers have risen so dramatically that we need all of these changes. Having worked in the IT arena that the club is now dabbling in makes me somewhat cynical about how that’s being done too, but then it’s always easy to criticise from the outside (fun too!). 🙂

    Anyway, more than anything else, thanks again for taking the time to blog (and respond). You’re raising important issues here, and in a far more measured way than I could manage. Plus, it’s a blooming good read.

    Thanks also for the tweeting – when I’m not there that is now the most important part of my matchday experience. And when I am there too, come to that! How you manage it I do not know, but I reckon you could have had a good career as a concert pianist.

    Cheers again Tim.

  3. Hi Barry – that’s a really good question – I imagine its UKPS but that’s purely a guess on my part…

  4. I Kevin – judging by the comments on here, Twitter and via PMs a lot of folk are very unhappy with the current system, or at least the practicalities of it rather than the system itself. Hopefully, before too long the club will clarify some/all of the issues raised within these comments. It does need sorting otherwise there will be some supporters who will be put off from driving to the ground and that would be a great shame…

  5. Hi Peter – that’s at the heart of the problem really – and how on earth would you know if there was an event on during the week if you decide to use the carpark? Seems to be an issue that definitely needs sorting.

  6. I shouldn’t smile but it’s hard not to. If there’s one thing that’s going to cause the Club to take action to improve the current situation which is clearly unaceptable, it’s management and players being served PCNs. Hopefully this will expedite a change far quicker than a number of unhappy punters expressing their frustrations/anger on social media!

  7. Yes, totally agree. I wouldn’t have a clue when an event was taking place, other than perhaps a fuller carpark, and for those who use the carpark and don’t follow the rugby, is a 4 hour park in the daytime of a match day still liable to an increased fee? I will send something to UKPS listing concerns that have been made, although I’m not sure they’ll be too fussed if I’m honest.

  8. Hi Russ…I hadn’t realised quite so many folk have had such negative experiences with regard to parking at the BPA this season. In due course I’ll forward to UKPS an email listing all the concerns of which there are many. Whilst Cov continue to promote themselves as a community club, the need to outsource the overseeing of parking and production of season tickets and the like seems to have resulted in a number of disgruntled supporters…something Cov needs to work to remedy as it grows ever bigger and ever more corporate. If the likes of you and me are questioning things, then there is definitely a problem.

  9. Hmmm… if your ticket stated that you could park until 11:59pm on the day stated, then from where I stand that’s the contract that you and the parking company have entered into. If they wanted to charge more on a certain day then they should have configured their machines and clarified their notices accordingly.

    On that basis the PCN should never have been issued, and I’d be asking them to refund at least the costs of postage for having to deal with a spurious claim. Sympathy my arse, bluntly, they never had a leg to stand on.

    You’re more forgiving than me Tim, obviously, and the club don’t get a free pass on it from me because they’ve clearly employed a bunch of sharks to run their parking operation.

    There are a few things going on at the moment at the BPA that I don’t really care for. I’m not a customer to be milked for cash at every opportunity on the back of achieving promotion, I’m a supporter to be treated with respect.

    Many of us have been there through the lean years too, and there are other things I can do with my money if I start to feel that’s the only thing the club really wants from me.

  10. Glad you deservedly got a result Tim, but unfortuneately you havent made them aware of the machine problem.

    The club need to be made aware of this as it is a real issue; especially with more and more events taking place at the Butts. Also what constitutes an event and how do people know when an event is on?

    The machines should either issue a £4 charge or a £5 charge on any given day (both all day parking fees)..not both at different times in one day. If the machine is not programmed correctly it is their responsibility not the person parking the car. No one should have the inconvenience you have had when you have paid correctly according to the machine.

  11. I’ve also been told that cars parked in the rear car park – officials and players – have been receiving similar notices.

  12. More to the point, if the ground is to be used for more sports other than rugby, what constitutes a match day? Understand that an awful number of supporters have already fell foul of this issue.

  13. Well done Tim. You were morally right having done what the parking machine’s process required. But the threatening letter is designed to intimidate people into paying money even when the system is so flawed. I bet you won’t be the first person to fall foul of this system unless it is corrected. If anyone is caught having paid the fee I would recommend they politely tell the Parking Company to go away, and tell them they will see them in court. In practise the parking company won’t pursue any case as they are not morally correct and natural justice would prevail. In similar circumstances I’ve done the same and after further threatening letters the parking company shuts up! Well done. Case history established!

Any thoughts:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.