A CARIST says he has been threatened with bailiffs after a dispute over a £5 airport parking ticket spiraled wildly out of control.
Pravin Kotecha, 66, mistyped his car registration number by just a single digit while paying for parking at Heathrow Airport.
The pensioner, from Thurmaston, Leicestershire, is convinced the £5 online payment – intended to drop his wife off at the airport in November last year – went through when he received a confirmation email.
He later traveled to India for a month and returned home to find two memos from the company telling him that he had not paid for his brief stay.
Mr Kotecha told LeicestershireLive: “I emailed them that day when I noticed my little mistake to explain.
“But they didn’t react.”
The motorist accepted that there was no reply because it was so close to Christmas, so he waited until January 7, but was met with more silence.
Despite his efforts to contact them to discuss an appeal, he continued to receive letters from the parking company APCOA warning him he would be slapped with a whopping £150 fee.
This later rose to £235.
The letters left Mr Kotecha furious as he had proof of payment for the initial £5 fee – despite entering the wrong registration.
To his horror, he then received a letter telling him that the bailiffs had been informed of the debt and were on their way.
After panicking blindly, the 66-year-old managed to speak to the collection agency and explained that he had not been given the opportunity to appeal against the initial charge.
Mr. Kotecha is now furious that such a company appears to have no apparent appeals process.
He slammed, “I wanted to challenge this because it makes you wonder how much these companies take advantage of people.”
The saga has led to Mr Kotecha contacting lawyers and he is even considering taking the matter to small claims court.
He was advised to offer to pay the full fee into an escrow account – a segregated account opened by lawyers to hold cash until the two parties can come to a contractual agreement.
He has made this offer to debt collectors, who he claims are still awaiting a response from APCOA.
A spokesman for APCOA told LeicestershireLive: “APCOA understands that entering an incorrect car registration is a slight mistake and we will take this into account.
We have provided the direct contact details of our Customer Service Manager who can resolve the matter.”