Man’s fury at ‘ridiculous’ fine
TIM Clover pulled up, paid for his parking and went on his way, only to return later to see a fine under his car windshield wiper.
The technology professional assumed there had been some mistake and lodged an appeal on the City of Melbourne website right away, only to receive an extraordinary response saying the infringement would stand.
"I used the PayStay app, which you open when you park and use to pay for the time," Mr Clover said. "It shows you the bay you're in. You double-check the number on the pole - every bay has its own number."
The letter from the council revealed an understandable error had occurred when he made the payment.
Council's response to his appeal read: "Our records show that you made payment for parking in zone 3001566, however your vehicle was parked in zone 3001556."
It was a mistake, Mr Clover concedes, but an honest and understandable one, and a bit of common sense should have excused the $81 fine.
"Obviously, I've made an error because the number that came up on the app is almost the same as the one on the pole," he said.
But the City of Melbourne held firm, saying the infringement won't be withdrawn and demanding payment or court action will be taken.
"It's a driver's responsibility to check parking signs and make sure all details of a parking session are valid before leaving their vehicle," the letter from council said.
"PayStay provides you with multiple opportunities to check all details are accurate before starting a parking session."
In 2017-2018, City of Melbourne raked in a whopping $44.3 million in parking fines on top of another $50.3 million in fees for parking.
Its annual report points out the infringement revenue is much more than it budgeted for because of an "increase in fines issued".
"What's frustrating is that this is the only attempt to have the fine dropped," Mr Clover said. "The option now is to pay the fine or sue them in court. Neither is very appealing.
"The councils are a law unto themselves. They're judge, jury and executioner, and they're not held to account. Other industries, telcos, insurance companies, banks, utilities, they've all got independent ombudsmen who would review these sorts of cases.
"I'm sick of the nanny state and lack of opportunity to challenge an unreasonable decision."
A City of Melbourne spokesperson told news.com.au "the infringement stands for the reasons outlined in the letter".
When Mr Clover shared the letter on LinkedIn, he was inundated with supportive messages about the "ridiculous" fine and lack of understanding from officials.
"I'm just a bit sick of the process through local government and wondered if anyone else felt the same," he said. "Apparently they do. This feels very unjust. It's ridiculous."