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Private car parks 

Frequently asked questions 

Private car park operators sometimes send consumers payment notices when they don’t follow the terms and conditions which are displayed at the entrance to the car park. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about what to do if you receive a payment notice.

What is a payment notice? Is it a fine? 

Private car park operators do not issue parking fines. Parking fines or infringements are issued by a Government body. Private car park operators issue payment notices to consumers who use their car parks and do not abide by the terms and conditions.

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How can private car park operators ‘fine’ consumers? 

Private car parks operate in a range of locations including shopping centres, retail outlets and food stores. Private car park operators do not issue fines, however may issue payment notices for ‘breach of contract’ stating that when a consumer enters a car park they agree to the terms and conditions stated on signage. Private car parks do not always have a boom gate operating; meaning consumers must find the ticket machine, purchase a ticket and place it visibly in the front windscreen.

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Are the payment notices legal? 

Private car park operators state that they issue payment notices when consumers breach the contract of the car park. They can take the matter to legal proceedings and will attempt to justify their claim through evidence.

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What are my options? 

You should contact the private car park operator in the first instance. Some car park operators will only receive complaints in writing. If your matter remains unresolved you can lodge a written complaint with NSW Fair Trading. Fair Trading will assist consumers with disputes regarding payment notices.

You can also lodge an application with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). The Tribunal is an independent decision making body which hears and decides consumer claims applications against a business about the supply of goods or services up to the value of $30,000. The Tribunal is a quick, inexpensive, and relatively informal way of resolving disputes.

Otherwise you have the option of seeking independent legal advice.

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Do I have to pay the payment notice or deal with the intention to sue? 

Fair Trading cannot advise consumers either to pay or not to pay a payment notice or how to respond to the notice of intention to sue. You should consider seeking immediate legal advice in this instance.

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I have received a letter from Australian Recoveries and Collections – what do I do now? 

If you wish to dispute the payment notice, we can help. If you receive a debt collection letter you should contact us immediately on 13 32 20. However you should be aware that private car park operators can still take legal proceedings. You also have the option to lodge an application directly to the NCAT, which if lodged first, may prevent it from being heard before any civil court.

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What happens if I don’t pay it? 

The private car park operators might decide to pursue the payment notice by debt collection, consultancy with a lawyer and/ or legal proceedings. These steps may incur additional costs to the consumer.

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Roads and Maritime Services have sent my personal details to a car park company. I forwarded a letter to the car park company about this but have not received a response – what can I do? 

Private car park operators have told us they are contacting all consumers by letter. This letter will outline the location of the car park, the date and time the consumer parked in the car park and why they have received the alleged payment notice. The notice will also detail the registration of the vehicle concerned and the payment notice number. Once you receive the letter, you should consider the information provided before disputing a payment notice.

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Concerns about court cases 

Fair Trading cannot provide legal assistance and cannot advise on the court proceedings involving RMS. The court case number is provided to consumers by letter and they can use this information to obtain details.

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Concerns about privacy  

If you have concerns about your privacy you should contact The Office of the Privacy Commissioner NSW (Privacy NSW):

Phone: 02 8019 1600
Fax: 02 8114 3755
Mail: GPO Box 7011
Sydney NSW 2001

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