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Unread 08-06-2009, 08:05   #1
Colm Moore
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Default Wrong turn costs a lotta Luas change

Wrong turn costs a lotta Luas change

SOUNDING OFF: An unfortunate series of events left Doireann Murray substantially out of pocket last month. It started when she parked in what was described as an overflow car park adjacent to the Stillorgan Luas stop.

When she went to pay for the day’s parking, she realised she had left her wallet at home. She rang Q-Park, the company in charge of the Luas car parks, to explain the situation and to ask if she could pay the following day. “I have done this on a few occasions in the past and it has never been a problem,” she says. “The man I was talking to was very helpful and said it would be no problem at all. He asked where exactly I was parked, took my registration and told me to leave a note on the windscreen and he would ring the guy in charge of the car park and tell him to look out for the note.”

She did as she was told and, the next day, when she went to pay for her parking on the way to work, she was less than pleased to discover her car had been clamped. She rang Q-Park who said they would ring the clamper straight away. “A few minutes later the guy in charge of the clamping rang me and said that he had just been down to the car park and there were no cars in the clamping log. He asked me to repeat my reg number and again he said the car wasn’t there.”

It turned out that the car park she used is run by a company by the name of Nationwide Controlled Parking Services (NCPS). Murray rang them to explain the misunderstanding and asked if they could remove the clamp. No joy. They said she owed them €120 and she was told that until it was paid the clamp would remain. She then rang Luas and asked how there could be another company in charge of the second car park even though Luas and Q-Park posters appeared to everywhere in the vicinity and the entrance had a sign saying it was a Luas overflow car park. “They said they were completely unaware of this and that it had nothing to do with them.”

After several phone calls between our reader and the customer care team and between them and Q-Park, she was told a supervisor had looked into the situation and agreed it was unfair. She was told the problem would be resolved.

Days passed and, fearing her car might be vandalised, she decided to pay the €120 unclamping fee. When she rang to do just this she was told the bill had now jumped to €360 as it was €120 per 24 hours – something she says she was not told when she first contacted NCPS. She felt she had no option but to pay up as the bill would keep climbing if she did not. “I’m just wondering if there is any way I’d be able to get my money back,” she writes. Pricewatch called Q-Park, the NCPS and Veolia Transport, the company which runs the Luas, to see what they could do to resolve what was clearly a mix-up. A spokeswoman for Q-Park was sympathetic to Murray’s plight but said that, seeing as how it had no jurisdiction over the car park where the car had been clamped, there was nothing they could do.

Veolia Transport was considerably more proactive. A spokeswoman told Pricewatch that the car park operated by NCPS was not connected with the Luas in any way and any signs suggesting it was a Luas overflow carpark were misleading. The spokeswoman said that, after we had got in touch with them, it had brought the matter to the attention of the Railway Procurement Agency (RPS) which in turn had written to NCPS outlining its concerns and suggesting that as a first step to resolving the problem, our reader should be refunded. Veolia said the company had agreed to issue the refund.

For its part, NCPS confirmed to Pricewatch that it had committed to refunding our reader within 24 hours of us making contact with the company “on the basis of goodwill due to the lady’s misunderstanding of which car park she was in”. The spokesman said the company was “also looking at signage to alleviate this problem in the future”.
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