Cashless parking catches drivers out. Here’s why it’s costing millions

cashless parking
Should you be penalised if you can’t do this and only have cash? (Picture iStock/MartinPrescott)

Drivers who’ve been fined for not being able to pay at cashless parking meters are being urged to contest the penalty. New research conducted by the Mail On Sunday has found that around a third of parking meters are now cash free.

That means drivers must pay with a debit or credit card or via a telephone hotline or mobile phone app. But what happens if you can’t?

Drivers penalised for not going cashless

The Mail On Sunday claims that around three million motorists were fined because they had no means to pay at cashless parking meters. That’s around a third of the parking fines issued. Campaigners such as Barrie Segal from AppealNow say drivers who have been fined like this should appeal.

He said: “Anyone fined because they only had cash on them should consider appealing. Be willing to take the case all the way to an independent adjudicator.”

We explain how to appeal a parking ticket here. If you do, there’s a high chance of success. According to ombudsman Parking On Private Land Appeals (POPLA), 41 per cent of the appeals it received found in favour of the driver.

How does cashless parking work?

Instead of putting coins into a meter, you pay for parking with a debit or credit card or use a mobile phone app. For some car parking, you ring a telephone hotline although this can be time consuming.

Apps such as PayByPhone, RingGo and ParkMobile are very straightforward. You download the app and input your payment and car details. Then it’s simply a case of opening the app when you want to park, inputting the location number displayed on a sign and clicking pay. It’s easy, as long as you’re comfortable with the technology.

cashless parking
Is this what happens if you can only pay for parking with cash? (Picture iStock/StephM2506)

What’s the downside?

Not every driver is comfortable with paying for things using a mobile phone app. Some people – as is their right – would prefer to pay with cash.

Another downside is that there isn’t just one app. Although PayByPhone and RingGo cover around four fifths of the UK’s cashless parking locations, not every local authority or private car park uses them. Go to a strange town and you may have to download a new app. Before you know, it’s entirely feasible you’ll end up with a handful of parking apps on your phone.

In addition, there can be added costs to paying by app. Some app services charge users an ‘administration’ or ‘convenience’ fee every time they park with the app. There are also handy text reminders to tell you when your parking time is about to expire. And you can get a text summary of where, when and how much your parking was. But these services also cost extra, typically about 30p each. It can add as much as 20 per cent to the cost of parking.

What are the benefits of cashless parking?

The primary benefit is there should be no more hunting for the right change. And it should do away with the inevitable cursing when you have to pay £2 to park because you don’t have the coins to pay the correct £1.40.

Drivers can also extend their parking through the app where it’s legal to do so meaning no running outside to ‘feed the meter’.

If parking meters don’t have to accept cash it means they can’t get jammed up or full with coins, a frequent cause of malfunctions. So more reliable parking meters should result. Using parking apps should also help prevent drivers inputting incorrect registration details (substituting the letter O for a zero is a common error). And if you do, the parking operator will be able to see exactly what you’ve done. If you’ve made an honest mistake, there’s a good chance you’ll be let off any resulting fine.

7 comments on “Cashless parking catches drivers out. Here’s why it’s costing millions

  1. D J groom 17/10/2019 3:45 PM

    I am not a very proficiant mobile user as are many pensioners and dither over new tech or not be able to download correctly. I prefer to pay cash or if I have to card payment.

  2. Ray Stevens 19/02/2020 9:37 AM

    payment by phone using an app…………..whats that, even if it was explained to me that would be no help to make payment……….i am a pensioner as well, good luck with that idea as i wouldn’t know were to start

  3. Mrs. Sandra Brooks 19/02/2020 10:12 AM

    Cashless parking should be banned as it discriminates against those who do not have credit/debit cards or phones with aps.

  4. Eleanor Holmes 19/02/2020 11:24 PM

    I do not have a smart phone. I choose not to have a smart phone and use an ancient pay as you go phone which makes calls and sends texts in an emergency. I wouldn’t trust parking companies with my credit card details, I trust few people with that info. I think people over 60 should not be expected to have a smart phone, especially as contracts can be expensive. My hands are crippled with arthritis and whilst I am perfectly capable of driving, juggling an expensive phone in the ice cold wind and rain, whilst fumbling for reading specs is not something I wish to do. Why should I? This is discrimination against the older generation and should be nipped in the bud right now.

  5. JONATHAN MORRIS 20/02/2020 12:07 PM

    i am 75 yrs old ,do not have a smart phone, nor do i want one. i do however have debit/credit cards and am happy to use them , like many other older people i do feel penalised for not having a smart phone, tthis should not be the only option when trying to park.

  6. D J Groom 20/02/2020 12:14 PM

    Further to my original comment how about toll payment such as on the Dartford crossing Nr London. And others. Saturday night and you only have 24 hours to pay in a unfamiliar location so you don’t now where a post office is, assuming it opens on a Sunday. Good luck with that.

  7. Geoff Page 20/02/2020 4:49 PM

    This is a growing trend to do away with cash payments altogether, it should be Opposed !

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