Pravin Kotecha, from Thurmaston, Leicestershire, has been threatened with debt collectors after he paid for a £5 parking ticket at Heathrow Airport but mistyped a single digit
Image: Leicester Mercury/BPM Media)
A man has told how he is being threatened by debt collectors after paying for a £5 airport parking fee but mistyped a digit on his car number plate.
Pravin Kotecha, from Thurmaston, paid for an online ticket at Heathrow Airport, when dropping off his wife in November last year, and received a confirmation email from the parking firm APCOA saying that it had been accepted.
It was later that he found out that he had typed a single digit of his number plate wrongly, reported Leicestershire Live.
The 66-year-old later traveled to India for a month and returned home to find two notices from the firm telling him he had not paid for his short stay.
He said the company eventually told him he would have to pay a fine to settle the debt and, later, that the matter had been passed to a debt collector.
Leicester Mercury/BPM Media)
Mr Kotecha told Leicestershire Live he checked the documents and spotted his typing error.
“I sent an email to them that day, when I made my small mistake, to explain,” he said. “But they didn’t respond. I put it down to being so close to Christmas and New Years, so I waited.”
Mr Kotecha sent another email on January 7 with no response once again yet he continued to receive letters from APCOA warning him an inflated charge, initially of £150 but later rising to £235, was now due.
“I tried to ask them where the payment had gone,” he said, as despite entering the wrong registration plate number, he still had proof of payment from his account.
He added: “Four weeks later they sent another letter so I replied again and the next time I was sent a debt collector’s letter.”
The £150-charge had become £235 and Mr Kotecha still had no luck getting in touch with the parking company. Instead, he managed to speak with the debt collectors and was able to explain that he had been given no opportunity to appeal the initial charge.
He said: “I wanted to challenge this because it makes you wonder how much these companies are taking advantage of people. They had no system for me to appeal or confirm my details before I paid and they haven’t responded to me.”
He is now in touch with solicitors and is considering taking the matter to the small claims court. He was also advised to offer to pay the full fee into an escrow account – a segregated account opened by the solicitors to hold the cash until the two parties can come to a contractual agreement.
He added that he has put this offer to the debt collectors, who, he says, are still waiting for a response from APCOA to confirm whether this is an appropriate step forward. Meanwhile, he has provided his proof of payment and evidence of all of his correspondence from him to the firm.
An APCOA spokesperson told LeicestershireLive: “APCOA understands that keying in an incorrect car registration is an easy error to make and we will take that into consideration. We have provided the direct contact details of our customer service manager who will be able to resolve the matter .”
The Mirror has contacted APCOA for comment.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.