Sunday 7 August 2022 09:13 AM Sneaky parking app charges that DOUBLE motorists' bill trends now
Motorists are being hit by a new wave of pay-by-phone ripoff charges – with sneaky extras as much as doubling the cost of using a car park in some cases.
While many holidaymakers are opting to spend their summer vacation in Britain rather than abroad, pay-by-phone providers are taking advantage of motorists to the tune of an estimated £20million by levying these additional charges.
This is all being made easier because many drivers struggling to find a space are forced to use a phone app. This is because traditional cash or card payment machines are no longer being provided or are being left out of order.
Campaigners are calling for tougher regulation of the burgeoning pay-by-phone market and for car park users to be told before they pay of the fee to be taken from their bank account, plus any extra costs they might incur for receiving texts confirming payment or telling them their paid-for time is nearly over.
Pay and dismay: Christopher Godfrey says he accepted an offer of £2.49 for parking only to find the cost had risen 60 per cent on completion
The latest payment ruse is being carried out by the app YourParkingSpace. It is demanding an extra £1.50 for drivers who use a car park without pre-booking a space.
This is on top of a 49p 'service charge' for using the app. Some customers say that they are finding out they have paid an extra levy only after pressing a button to make a payment on their phone.
Other pay-by-phone parking apps are also demanding extra money to use their service – with the fees taking a variety of guises.
For example, RingGo can include a 'convenience charge' of 12p on top of the normal parking tariff.
In addition, it demands up to 20p for a 'summary charge' text confirming you have paid – and a further 20p 'reminder charge' text sent ten minutes before your car park session ends, inviting you to extend your stay via your mobile.
Competitor PayByPhone also demands up to 20p for a texted 'receipt' as well as 20p for texting a 'reminder'. JustPark has a 49p 'transaction fee' for parking for less than two hours – 99p if longer.
The apps wriggle out of providing a clear explanation of the sneaky fees in their terms and conditions by varying the costs they levy at different car parks.
Christopher Godfrey is among the millions of motorists who have fallen foul of small-print app tricks. A few days ago, he agreed to pay £2.49 to park his blue Volkswagen Polo at a Morrisons supermarket in Norwich for 3½ hours while he went to watch the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun: Maverick at the cinema.
Christopher says: 'The car park had a sign that showed it was free for the first two hours, but if you wanted to stay longer you had to log on to the YourParkingSpace app to find out what you must pay.'
He adds: 'The charge was clearly shown as £2.49. But as soon as I pressed the payment button on the app, I got a message to thank me for my payment of £3.99. I felt cheated because at no point beforehand was I warned of the extra £1.50 fee. Additional fees almost doubled the cost of parking.'
Christopher confronted YourParkingSpace. It confirmed the charges were correct as he had not 'pre-booked the space'. But it said that it would refund the £1.50 'as an exception'.
He says it failed to explain why details of the charge for not pre-booking weren't provided prior to payment being taken.
He added: 'I have asked Apple Pay, my credit card issuer and Trading