Pete Goldin blogged below about the nanny state in Scotland considering “Regulating” what a person can do on their private property. In this case, it’s how they run their private businesses, to wit, parking. There is outrage (Brits get outraged over everything, its like there is no mild pique or low anger, it’s nothing or outrage.) over the fact that private parking companies are issuing tickets to people who don’t pay or who overstay the amount of time they bought. And, shudder, they aren’t regulated. They can charge whatever they want. OMG
My knee jerk reaction is of course, so what. It’s their business and if they want to chase away customers by overcharging or by threatening them with fines, booting, and towing, so be it. What business is it of the government what a private firm does on its own land. It would seem to me that the free market should take care of this problem. A few stories in the local paper, a TV ‘expose’ and a couple of pickets and my guess is that the problem would be solved.
All that having been said, there is a limit. Most municipalities require that clear signage be in place so that people know what they are getting into. If you park at an airport and leave your car longer than a certain time, it’s at risk of being towed and sold. There doesn’t seem to be any outrage about that. There’s the case Peter loves to tell of the woman who left her Range Rover on the street and returned two months later to find a letter with a check in it for £2500 and a note saying the local authority had impounded her car for illegal parking and sold the 50,000 vehicle for “what they could get” and enclosed was the remainder after fines and fees of £750 were paid. Where’s the outrage there. Well, she was a tad piqued, but then…
In most cities in the US you can’t tow a vehicle unless there is a clear sign noting that you will do so and a number you can call to find your errant ride. Seems fair.
Now about “ticketing,” I just parked in front of a sign that says “You will be immobilized and charged £100 if you don’t pay the fee.” What do I expect to happen?
The outraged Scots, Pete, and Charles from PA are worried that there is no sign and that towing companies indiscriminately tow vehicles that HAVE paid or aren’t breaking the rules. I suggest the police arrest the tow truck driver and charge them with Grand Theft Auto. A couple of those arrests should slow down the process. And Oh, if someone sends me a bill for parking on their property who says I have to pay it?
It’s just difficult for me to believe that a parking facility owner would sanction improper ticketing or towing. They would be, it seems, the first to cry foul and call the cops when things were getting out of hand.
I just hate it when our first reaction to a problem is to pass a law.
San Francisco had this problem a few years ago. They went after the tow truck drivers. A couple of people accused them of stealing their cars. I think the problem went away after that.